The heavy rains that poured down on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, did not dampen the enthusiasm of the Ferkauf and Friends Brunch, a yearly event where faculty, staff and students from the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology come together to welcome the incoming first-year students and their families.
Dr. Vincent Alfonso, the interim dean of Ferkauf, kicked off the celebration with a hearty welcome to the 200 people in the room, followed by Dr. Arlene “Lu” Steinberg, chair of Ferkauf’s board of overseers as well as an adjunct professor at the school, where she supervises students in the School-Clinical Child Psychology program. Dr. Steinberg spoke with feeling about the way Ferkauf offers so many options for people to pursue their personal and professional interests, “and you can always be assured,” she said, “that you will find Ferkauf people working everywhere in the world, ready to help you be successful on your journey.”
Four current students stepped up to speak to the new cohort about the pressures and pleasures of studying at Ferkauf. Sandi-Lynn Eshun, from the Mental Health Counseling program, recounted the crisis of self-confidence she experienced during her first semester and how the support she received from friends and faculty alike helped her “learn and evolve into a therapist who does her work well.”
Sydney Jacobs, a fourth-year student in the Clinical Psychology program, praised the many “intense and focused opportunities” at Ferkauf for a person to build strong foundational skills, acquire invaluable clinical experience, find top-notch internships and externships, and strike out along many interesting research paths.
Erica Hoffman, a fourth-year student in the School-Clinical Child Psychology program, echoed the positive comments of her colleagues, adding how supervisors who work with Ferkauf students have found them to be “warm, diligent and serious” in their endeavors and how her professors have helped her grow and mature. “Who I am is still in progress,” she noted, “but I know I have a widespread Ferkauf family which I can lean upon.”
Alison Manning, a fourth-year student in the Adult Clinical program, capped all the laudatory statements of her predecessors by saying, “Ferkauf gives me the confidence that this is the work I should be doing.”
Many of the incoming students enrolled at Ferkauf because of family connections to Yeshiva University. For example, Allyana Wiviott and Naomi Greenfield had parents who went to Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and they wanted to check out the university that had given their parents success in their lives. The same was true for Samuel Kressel, whose father, Neil, was a classmate of Dr. William Salton, director of the Parnes Clinic and the Asylum Project.
Lauren Pandes-Carter came to Ferkauf because the school offered her an excellent opportunity, through the Parnes Clinic, to “bring psychology to the people.” Sabrina Udwin was impressed by the network of Ferkauf alumni she kept coming across as she did work in early childhood intervention, and Alexandra Chalfin found that Ferkauf offered her the perfect combination of technology and education she had been seeking.
The day ended with two sample classes, and participants could choose which one to attend. Dr. Alfonso taught about early childhood assessment and intervention, and Dr. Salton described the Asylum Project, which teaches students about political asylum and how to write psychological affidavits for asylum seekers.
Kressel, who attend the session on the asylum project, summed up the day well when he said, “I always had a grasp on psychological principles, but I was awed by the practical applications of those principles to people’s lives.”