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Guest Lecture Series Informs and Inspires

October, 2019
  • From left: Professor Valerie Clemente with Certified Peer Support Specialist Shayn McDonald.
    From left: Professor Valerie Clemente with Certified Peer Support Specialist Shayn McDonald.

The Psi Beta and Psychology Club Guest Speaker Series and Social Justice Speaker Series have been hosting a variety of speakers and topics designed to inform and inspire. In late September, inclusiveness was a big part of the discussion in a lecture by Certified Peer Support Specialist Shayn McDonald.

Ms. McDonald is a young adult peer mentor with Zia Young Adult Access Center. She works with others who have experienced traumas that are relatable to her own experiences. Ms. McDonald told her personal story of how she had struggled with toxicity at home, as well as being actively being assaulted at school. This led her to ask her mom to see a therapist. She described the ensuing days and months of being treated both as an in-patient and out-patient with multiple diagnoses. She told how she found the most helpful people during this time in her life were those people who were experiencing similar issues.

“My experiences were finally seen as valid and understandable,” she said, adding that it was their stories that inspired her to get into the field of psychology.

Today she is certified as a peer support specialist, a designation that is currently a life certification in Massachusetts. As a peer support specialist, there is a mutuality between the peer specialist and the person they are working with, according to Ms. McDonald.

“You don’t assume any authority or intelligence over another person. There is no power differential,” she said.

In late October, Dr. Katie Gabriele-Black did a talk titled, “It’s not contradictory things you know?”: Experiences of LGBTQ emerging adults from Evangelical Christian backgrounds. Dr. Gabriele-Black addressed experiences of LGBTQ+ emerging adults who grew up in conservative Evangelical communities. Dr. Gabriele-Black is a graduate of Houghton College, has a Masters in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology from Boston College, and a Masters and PhD from Clark University in Developmental Psychology. She’s worked on a range of research studies over the years, from participatory action research projects with undocumented immigrants in Boston and Providence, to a longitudinal adoption study with gay, lesbian, and heterosexual parents, to projects with trans and gender nonconforming college and graduate students.

For additional information on the Psi Beta and Psychology Club Guest Speaker Series and Social Justice Speaker Series, contactvclemente [at] qcc.mass.edu ( Professor Valerie Clemente.)

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