Ohio State Psychology Alumni
Drew Downing, Director of Operations and Mission Fulfillment
After receiving a B.A. in Psychology at The Ohio State University in 2009, Drew went on to earn his Masters of Public Health from the Medical University of Toledo in 2011. For 8 years, Drew worked for the government in disaster preparedness and response, taking on many new projects in order to learn as much as he could about the industry. The skills learned through these projects applied well to his new job as a Director of Operations & Mission Fulfillment at Disque Foundation.
At the Disque Foundation Drew works remotely on a global team, and describes his workday as “fluid, fast-paced, and organized, yet ever changing”. Disque Foundation provides online CPR, AED & First Aid training to people who may not normally take, or have access to such programs/classes. Drew speaks with people from around the world about how they can partner to provide online medical education to support or strengthen their training and operations and help them ultimately reach their goal. His favorite part of the job is being able to empower people to save a life as well as being on a team that embraces technology, sets goals and supports each other to get to those goals.
Drew’s advice to fellow psychology students is to “be a lifelong learner, as that is one of the most valuable tools” as well as to work on active-listening as it builds trust and is a skill Drew has found very important in his line of work.
Mike Aronoff, Forensic Psychologist
After earning a BA in Psychology, Mike attended Nova Southeastern University where he would obtain a Master and Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology. Mike then completed a Predoctoral Internship at the Cleveland Veterans Administration Medical Center, followed by a Postdoctoral Residency at Wright State University School of Professional Psychology. Mike previously worked at Netcare Forensic Psychiatry and in the Pain Clinic at the Cleveland Veterans Administration Medical Center. He was fortunate to be hired as the Associate Director of the Court Psychiatric Clinic of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas where he has been employed for the past 23 years.
As a forensic psychologist, Mike conducts a number of court-ordered evaluations addressing issues such as competence to stand trial, sanity at the time of the act, mitigation of penalty, and sexual offender risk assessments, etc. These evaluations are labor intensive, requiring lengthy interviews, psychological testing, record review, and court testimony. He has found forensic psychology to be a rewarding career choice, representing the perfect union of psychology and law.
Mike’s advice to fellow psychology students is, “To continue to challenge yourself and test your limits. You will never know if an experience is right for you until you dive in. Over time, through a process of elimination, you will be better able to decide what career is best for you.”
Liz Collver, Higher Education
After graduating from Ohio State in 2009 with a BA in Psychology, Liz earned her Masters in Higher Education Administration from Texas A&M. Liz accepted a job at Florida Gulf Coast University where she organized freshman orientation. She then became the Coordinator of Student Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University. In this position, she spent a lot of time meeting with students and campus constituents about fundraising needs, planning events, and writing proposals for new programs.
Liz is now the Assistant Director of Student Life for Civic Engagement at Grand Valley State University. She is responsible for directing the Community Service Learning Center on campus where she works with nonprofit partners and plans large scale events. She considers organization, time management, budgeting, communication, and creativity to be important skills and abilities in her career. Liz wants students to know that a “background in psych gives them a unique mix of empathy, statistical analysis, and understanding of the world around them – so it makes them stick out of a crowd.”
Brian King, Health Care Administrator
After earning a BA in Psychology, Brian continued his education at OSU to pursue his MHA in Health Services Management & Policy. Brian then worked at Akron Children’s Hospital, gaining experience in the following positions: Administrative Fellowship, Planning Analyst, Senior Planning Analyst, and Administrative Director Ambulatory Clinic Operations. He then worked as a Planning Manager for Duke Health Systems before reaching his current position.
As a Health Care Administrator, Brian is an on-site administrator for primary care and urgent care practices. He is also responsible for managing all clinical and non-clinical operations for practices with a combined 13 providers, 45 staff, 50,000 patient visits annually. Brian enjoys the combination of business and psychology principles in a healthcare setting. Brian also notes that the rapidly changing environment allows for personal and professional growth. Relationship building skills, communication skills, and analytical abilities have helped Brian succeed within the complex academic healthcare environment.
Brian’s biggest piece of advice for students is “Take nothing for granted. You have been blessed with a great education and start to your career. Future success will be determined by the amount of effort you are willing to put forth.”
Lexie Anderson, Data & Analysis
After graduating with a BA in Psychology in 2013, Lexie accepted a temporary position as a marketing automation specialist. Although this was not the career path she planned, she learned valuable skills and discovered what aspects she wanted to carry into her next job. Lexie now leads a team of analysts to help clients in their digital display, video upfront, social media, and TV and offline media strategy. She also works across agencies and with client teams to drive business results and implement structured test and learn opportunities, and provides detailed performance reporting and drive optimizations in media plans a strategies. Lexie loves being able to use her training to help clients understand consumer mindsets and drive business results.
Lexie notes that your psychology degree can apply to almost any field. She advises that “when interviewing, figure out what you have learned in your psychology courses and training that applies to the field you are interested in and don’t be afraid to go after any job you want. Your personality and desire to work hard and learn can make more of an impact than what your degree is on your resume.
Lauren Miller, Development Officer
Lauren’s role as a Leadership Annual Giving Officer with The Ohio State College of Engineering is the perfect blend of her interest in understanding and motivating individuals and her undeniable love for Ohio State. In her role, she is mainly responsible for securing resources for the College of Engineering and reengaging alumni across the country. She says the most fulfilling part of her job is seeing how passionate alumni want to make an impact on current students, because it means that so many young people will have the opportunity to have an extraordinary experience at Ohio State, just like she did!
Lauren graduated with her BA in Psychology from Ohio State in May of 2017, where she was involved in a number of student organizations and Greek life. Her biggest piece of advice for current students unsure about the direction of their career would be to explore all of their options. “I had no idea my current line of work even existed when I started at Ohio State, and if I hadn’t explored new interests, I don’t know where I would be today!”
Halley Clarke, School Counselor
Halley is a school counselor at Columbus Preparatory Academy, a K-11 charter school in Columbus, Ohio. She completed her B.A. Psychology degree in 2015 and her M.A. Counselor Education degree in 2017, both from The Ohio State University. As a school counselor, Halley provides counseling support for students through classroom lessons, small group counseling, and individual counseling. She also provides parent and teacher consultations and crisis intervention. Every day is different and Halley has the freedom to decide how to offer each component of a comprehensive school counseling program.
Halley loves working creatively with kids to help them develop important life skills. She says, “It’s so enjoyable to connect with students in meaningful ways to help them develop personally, socially, and academically, to help them navigate life’s challenges, and prepare for their futures.” If you’re considering a career in school counseling, Halley says “empathy, listening skills, the ability to suspend judgement, question-asking, creativity, a sense of humor, flexibility, and being self-directed” are valuable qualities to develop.
She recommends finding work or volunteer positions to explore different career paths and to learn how to “tell your story” about the qualities and abilities you have developed through your work experiences. These are great thoughts to share during interviews, too!
Courtney Benjamin Wolk, Clinical Psychologist and Academic Researcher
Wondering how to combine your passion for both research and practice? Alum, Courtney Benjamin Wolk, is doing just that, primarily as a researcher (and soon-to-be Assistant Professor) but also as a clinician. Courtney spends much of her time writing grant applications, conducting independent research, and preparing manuscripts for publication. Clinically, she is a licensed cognitive-behavioral therapist with a small private practice, specializing in child anxiety disorders.
After earning her BA in Psychology at OSU, Courtney worked for two years to obtain additional experience in the field before earning M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Clinical Psychology from Temple University. Her advice is to “consider what kind of career you want in the long run and if it might be worthwhile to delay the graduate school application process until you are able to be as competitive as possible”. Additionally, Courtney encourages students to find mentors, people doing your dream job, and ask them how they got there.
Nick Lembach, Research Manager
Nick graduated from Ohio State University with his BS in Psychology in 2007. He went on to graduate school at Cleveland State University and received his master’s degree in Consumer & Industrial/Organizational Research Psychology. Nick now works as a research manager at PlugInsights. Nick states that there is no typical day at his office, and his time is divided across a large range of activities necessary to conduct research projects. Nick enjoys the ability to have a flexible schedule and to work independently.
Nick states that being a research manager requires him to possess many technical skills, and to use the fundamental skills that he picked up in his psychology courses, such as research design and data analysis.
One piece of advice Nick would offer current undergraduate psychology students planning for their careers is to seek out advice and help: “Whenever you're not sure about something, track down someone that knows more than you and just ask.” He reminds students that while “it’s important to be well-rounded, it’s too much to ask of yourself to be an expert at everything”.
Jamie Lukac, Nursing Student
Jamie's career path is a great example of the variety of directions in which a psychology degree can take you! Following graduation from OSU, Jamie accepted a position as a Milieu Therapist at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center with the intention of gaining experience before applying to graduate school. During this time, Jamie grew to love the medical side of health care and decided to attend nursing school (using tuition assistance from UPMC while continuing to work as a therapist).
Jamie encourages students to be open-minded about career opportunities, and sees herself as an example that "you don't need to work in mental health to put your psychology education to use!" She values her undergraduate education, finding it very helpful to combine her psychology and nursing training when working with her patients, many of whom have underlying mental health issues.
Mandi (Grumm) Hinton, Educational Audiologist
Mandi works as an educational audiologist at the Ohio School for the Deaf. During her psychology undergraduate experience at OSU, she was active in psychology research, participated in the psychology study abroad trip to England in SU08, was involved in the scholars program, and held a work-study position at the psychology undergraduate advising office. Mandi pursued dual bachelors’ degrees in psychology and speech and hearing science, and continued on to graduate school at The Ohio State University where she graduated with a doctorate degree in audiology (AuD) in 2015.
In her current position, she enjoys working on a team with students, families, teachers, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and other educational specialists. A background in psychology has helped build a strong foundation for providing audiologic counseling for a diverse range of students at the Deaf school. Mandi's advice for current students is to begin exploring potential career paths early, get involved (research, volunteering, etc.), and take risks when selecting elective courses, because you never know what interests and skills you may develop through those "extra" classes. Go Bucks!
David Murphy, Pastor
Meet David Murphy, a Pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. David received his B.S. in Psychology from Ohio State, a Master’s in Human Factors Engineering from Wright State University, and a Master’s in Theology from Wartburg Theological Seminary. David says there is no typical day; he spends his time writing, reading, and visiting with people, along with handling administrative tasks, working with finances, and helping those in distress. David loves serving people and hearing their stories, and he greatly enjoys when he can help someone walk through life’s challenges.
David says it’s important to be able to manage his time and to translate his academic knowledge into the contextual language of the people he serves. His advice to undergraduates is to always ask questions and be open to new areas in which your psychology degree will be beneficial.
Eric Sullivan, Clinical Psychologist
"Making a difference in others' lives, opportunities to solve problems creatively, [and] great opportunities for continuing education and growth" are a few of things Eric loves about his career as a clinical psychologist at the Columbus Veterans Affairs Ambulatory Care Center in Columbus, OH. Eric received his BA in Psychology in 2004 and then completed his Ph.D. in 2010 at Suffolk University in Boston, MA. He is now able to do a variety of work that includes presenting at conferences, treating patients, consulting, writing, researching and many other things that he says would not have been open to him without a Ph.D.
"If you know you want to become a psychologist, it is imperative that you get experience with presenting and publishing research." Getting involved in a lab or having a job involving research after completing your undergraduate degree, he says, is the first step towards a future of possibilities.
Megan Cotrell, Hotline Follow-Up Specialist
March's Alumni Spotlight is on Megan Cotrell, whose volunteer experience during college led to a full-time career opportunity following graduation. Having volunteered with Suicide Prevention Services helped Megan "hone the skills necessary to communicate with someone in a life or death situation" and to find a career path that she truly enjoys. Following graduation, Megan started with HelpLine as a Suicide Prevention Educator, working with middle and high school students, as well as providing professional trainings to various organizations. When HelpLine received a national grant, Megan moved into her current position, following up and providing emotional support, resources, and referrals to suicidal individuals following their discharge from local hospital Emergency Rooms.
Megan is looking forward to applying to an MSW/MPA program and becoming more involved in social justice issues. She "truly believes that getting real work experience before graduate school is a necessity" for finding "what you are and are not interested in, what you are or are not skilled at".
Kalee Brenner, Student Financial Services Specialist, OSU
“Being open to positions that don’t seem like typical ‘psychology’ careers” is what led Kalee to her current position. Kalee is a Student Financial Services Specialist, and loves being part of the OSU community again. The variety of work each day is one of her favorite aspects of the job. Kalee particularly enjoys the opportunity to work with students and people in organizations from all over the world.
While a student at OSU, Kalee was involved in the Psychology Department's Peer Mentoring program, and the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. In addition to being open to new and different opportunities, Kalee offers students this advice: “Not to be discouraged if <students> aren't sure what exact career path they plan to pursue upon graduation. It can take time to find your passion but once you do, all the time and effort put in really pays off!”