The very best mistake Christine Clark ever made led her to a career she loves. She was a high school senior completing Georgian Court University admissions paperwork. “I wanted to be an education major and also study social work. I couldn’t find social work on the form, but I saw psychology, so I checked that box,” explains Christine. While intending to make the change later, she never did and ended up taking an Introduction to Psychology class. “From that moment, I fell in love with psychology.”
Christine has earned a B.A. in Psychology, an M.A. and Certificate in Advanced Graduate Studies in School Psychology, and now, a Psy.D. in School Psychology, all from GCU. She’s a member of the first class of Psy.D. students at GCU and was the first in her cohort to defend her dissertation. Christine’s research explores how parents experience grief when their child is diagnosed with a mental health condition, a topic influenced by her work as a school psychologist in the Manville, New Jersey, K–12 district and grounded in her GCU education, which taught her the importance of family in working with students.
“I’m very proud that my research is the first of its kind—looking at the parents’ personal journeys and what they go through,” said Christine. “We offer students many kinds of resources, but at the same time, we have another big piece of the puzzle that’s not always being addressed.”
Christine has not only been a student at Georgian Court three times over—she’s been an adjunct instructor since 2019. She teaches Senior Seminar and Cognitive Psychology, and in the fall, the Psychology of Learning.
The foundation for Christine becoming a “GCU Lion for Life” was set in her undergraduate years, when she guided experiential learning tours, was an Orientation leader, and participated in several honor societies. Today, says Christine, the student speaker at GCU’s Graduate Commencement Ceremony, “I try to incorporate the Mercy core values in everything I do.”
The “mistake” made as a 17-year-old has come full circle. When Christine defended her dissertation on April 1, she did so in the same classroom where she took that Introduction to Psychology class. In the chairs, instead of peer students, sat several professors from her undergraduate days.
This story is one in a series of feature stories focused on the Class of 2022. Story contributed by freelance writer Sheila Noonan. Photo by Russ DeSantis.