University Series 030 - Rowan University

Join Operant Innovations as we speak to Rowan University and not only do we have faculty joining us, but also two students. Learn how Rowan University is unique in the classes, research, and practicum opportunities allowing their students to individualize their experience through their masters and PhD programming. 

Contact Information:

Dr. Bethany Raiff -
Dr. Michelle Soreth -
Dr. Christina Simmons -

Additional Links

Behavior Analysis @ Rowan -


Shauna Costello (00:00:01):

You're listening to operant innovations, the podcast brought to you by ABA Technologies. This week on the university series, we'll be speaking with Rowan University and this episode is going to be a little unique because we have five interviewees today, three faculty members, and two students. So without further ado, Rowan University!

Shauna Costello (00:00:22):

Today, we are here With Rowan university and this episode is going to be much more exciting because we actually have five people that are going to be participating in it. And it's not just necessarily faculty members. We also have some students as well. So this is going to be the first episode where you get to hear from some students of the university firsthand. And because there are so many, I'm going to rest my voice and I'm going to pass it over to them and let them introduce themselves. So first I just want to thank everybody for being here.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:01:00):

Thanks. I'll get started. I am Dr. Bethany Raiff. I am one of the faculty members, I'm an associate professor at Rowan University. I have been at Rowan for a while about eight years now, I think. And we, so I helped to coordinate our master's in applied behavior analysis program. And I also oversee doctoral student training for our clinical for at least for my students in our clinical program as well. So we'll get to talk about that a little bit more as we go, my background though, I'll give just a really brief background is I went to the University of Florida for graduate school, studying behavioral pharmacology. So I have training in more basic research, basic behavior analysis, and then also sort of translational. So I kind of span across the whole continuum of research from really basic with animals in laboratory settings to now more recently intervention based, interventions for substance use disorders and other kinds of health behavior is my focus. So my background is a little bit unique for an applied behavior analysis program and I'll pass the mic, over to my, the co-coordinator for our program, Michelle Soreth.

Dr. Michelle Soreth (00:02:24):

Hi, I'm Michelle Soreth. And I joined Rowan as a faculty member in 2006. So this is my 15th year at Rowan and really started at the program when it was just myself and Dr. Mary Lou Kerwin. We initially had a BCaBA track and we'll talk all about details, I'm sure on that. And then open, built, and open the masters in ABA over the years, as well as I in Assembling the clinical Ph.D. program that we'll talk about that houses some behavior analysts in it as well. I'm currently an associate professor and I did my background, I fell in love with behavior analysis at Rollins College in Florida. I was there for undergraduate my undergraduate days and I met Maria Ruiz who was my mentor. So I fell in love with behavior analysis and ended up completing my Ph.D. at Temple University with Phil Heinlein working in the experimental analysis of behavior. My dissertation was on choice behavior with pigeons. And then soon after when I went from graduate school to the Rowan position in that transition, even Phil Heinlein, you know, we were very involved in applied behavior analysis as well in the lab. It certainly wasn't just the pigeon lab but ended up doing some more consulting work, got my BCBA. And now my area of research is primarily in early intervention for autism spectrum disorder, as well as I have some experience dealing with problem behavior in schools, assessment, and treatment of problem behavior as well. So I will, and as Bethany said, I coordinate the master of arts and applied behavior analysis and we'll send it over to our newest colleague Dr. Christina Simmons.

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:04:27):

Hi, I'm Dr. Christina Simmons. This is my fourth year here at Rowan hard to believe it's already been four years or three years that I've been here. I am an assistant professor in the psychology department. My background, my Ph.D., and my master's degree were at the University of Georgia in school psychology, where I had the chance to work with Dr. Scott Arwin and Dr. Jonathan Kimball. And I had the wonderful pleasure of training at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, where I really developed my love of severe behavior and treating and assessing severe behavior. I then did my pre-doctoral internship at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center under the supervision of Dr. Wayne Fisher. And I stayed and did my postdoc there as well. And so then I joined the program at Rowan and as part of that had the chance to develop a severe behavior clinic as part of our center for applied behavior analysis. And so my research is focused on assessing and treating severe behavior in individuals with autism and developmental disabilities, but specifically focusing on the social validity of those interventions. So how do we incorporate individuals with developmental disabilities, their preferences, their opinions, and their selection of assessments and treatments, as well as how do we make those assessments and treatments meaningful in the real world? I'm really excited to be here and to talk about our programs.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:05:44):

I thought who could have to go next is Jessica Nastasi who was our actually former master of arts students. She graduated two years ago now. I think it was so we'll have her go next.

Jessica Nastasi (00:05:59):

So my name is Jessica, as Bethany mentioned, I got my master's at Rowan University. I'm currently a second-year student at University of Florida working with Dr. Nicole Gravina.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:06:13):

And then we have Matt Dwyer who is a current doctoral student in our Ph.D. program in clinical psychology.

Matt Dwyer (00:06:22):

Yep. My name is Matt Dwyer and I'm a fourth-year clinical psych doc student in Rowan's psychology program, working with Dr. Raiff in the habit research unit. And my background in behavior analysis started really I'm a graduate of Eastern Michigan University's dual clinical psychology and behavior analysis master's program before moving to Rowan.

Shauna Costello (00:06:44):

I just want to say I'm really excited to have everybody. And as you know, as I'm listening to all of you talk about your backgrounds and where you went to school and where you're going to school now, or things along that line, it's just really exciting because I'm like, Oh, we've had them on the podcast. Oh, we've had them on the podcast. So it's really, it's really neat to see how all of them actually really tied together. And that a lot of you are talking about, you know, you've gone through a lot of these programs that I've already talked to and it's like, Ooh, now I get to see where you went from those programs. And that's really exciting to do. So typically now we can jump into the actual program. And typically we start with just a general overview. So I will hand it over to learn just a little bit more about the general knowledge of the Rowan program.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:07:39):

Great. So I will try to cover as much of that as possible. And if I miss anything I'll ask my colleagues to step in and fill in anything I might've missed, but the program is 33 credits and it is comprised of you know, it's, it's one of these programs that is, has a verified course sequence, obviously. And the program starts with fundamental behavior analytic knowledge and skills. So we've got, you know, some basic principles, applied behavior analysis coursework, and history and philosophy as well. And we have an advanced BAB course in there as well. And then we move into more of the advanced applied behavior analysis topics like ethics and advanced practice. And we do offer, and I know not all programs do, we have a practicum in applied behavior analysis as well, which some, I do not run that, but my colleagues help out with that as well, so they can talk more about it. And then we've got research methods, and behavioral consultation, and supervision courses that are required of the program at this time. Is there anything else that I'm sort of missing from that general overview?

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:08:52):

Did you want to also talk about the undergraduate program? Okay.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:08:56):

So we've got the masters in applied behavior analysis and then we've also got for graduate level, we've got the certificate of advanced graduate studies in ABA that is available to people who have a degree already an advanced degree who want to just take the coursework to become a BCBA as well. So that is an option, I can't remember exactly the number of credits that that is required, but it's pretty close to our master's program. And then we have for undergraduates and Dr. Sarah mentioned this earlier, just this concentration in behavioral services, which is available to our undergraduate students or post-bac students as well that provides this verified course sequence for students who want to become a BCaBA. And I actually supervise that, which I didn't mention before, but I do supervise that program as well.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:09:48):

So in that, in that sequence, we also, it's a, it's a series of five courses and we also require some fieldwork and actual practical kind of experience to help get hours for the certification process. Those are our behavior analysis-specific programs, but then we've also got, as we've mentioned before, we've got this doctoral program, which is in its fifth year now. So we actually have our first full cohort of students, and it's a clinical psychology program, very unique in the sense that it does have the behavioral analysis program embedded. It's not related, but faculty members can take students and we can mentor students and, and have students conducting research in our labs so they can get that behavior analytic focus while also getting a clinical degree and have that sort of, I think it's a really great merging of those two disciplines to have behavior analysis, and it won't allow them to become BCBA because we don't have the course courses built into that doc program, but if they have that experience already then bringing those together could be a really nice merging and then having the opportunity to do research in a more clinical fashion.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:11:04):

And the really unique thing about our doctoral program in addition to the fact that we have behavior analytic faculty on staff that can take students is it's focused on health. So we at Rowan University one of the really unique things about our institution is that we have two medical schools, which is really rare and unusual for any university. But when Rowan sort of ended up we developed our own doctoral or not doctoral, but medical school, the Cooper university, or Cooper medical school in Camden. And that was something that was sort of in the works. And then we sort of inherited another medical school that, so we have two. So we have an osteopathic and an allopathic medical school available which is a really great opportunity for our students, both in behavior analysis and in the doctoral program, because they get right into the health care field and really integrated into health concerns and working in that fashion. So I think that that offers some unique opportunities. And then we also have a school psychology program, which Dr. Simmons can talk a little bit more about that. I think places us in this unique position at Rowan to have all these different opportunities.

Shauna Costello (00:12:18):

Well, and I really like hearing that because not only necessarily sticking with just strictly within the behavior analytic programs, I like that you are going to be bringing in some of these other opportunities because students will be able to, They'll be able to reach out and find out exactly which path they want to go down, that's going to fit best for them. So I really liked that you're bringing in a lot of those because no, we don't all necessarily go strictly clinical behavior analysis. That's with working with children, children with autism, that's not necessarily what all of us do. And I know I get that question a lot. Like, how did you get your job? And I'm like, yeah it's different. It's different. So I really liked that. And so how about we jump into some faculty members who are the faculty members, what are they researching? Who are they?

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:13:12):

Well, that's a great segue actually, in what you were just talking about. I wanted to discuss a little bit more about the faculty members and our unique backgrounds, which we talked a little bit about in our introductions, but I think we could talk a little bit more about that too. So it's, it's the three of us right now. We have other faculty members who help teach some of our courses, but it's Dr. Soreth, Dr. Simmons, myself who are the primary faculty members Dr. Kerwin, who was one of the founding members, she's the head of our department right now. So she's taken a little bit of a backseat. She's still involved in our program and all of that, but she's not teaching at the time at this time or taking students. But she was heavily influential in the development obviously. And the direction that our, our program has gone.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:13:56):

So, my background being really in behavioral pharmacology and health behavior focus is really unique and different. And I think that that offers the students a different perspective than what the traditional sort of behavior analysis program might offer. And when I teach courses, I teach the basic principles and advanced AP courses. And I rarely, I don't have examples for you know, clinical examples that involve kids with autism or developmental disabilities. That's just not what I do. And so when I'm giving examples, it's going to broaden, I think what our students get exposure to and the opportunities that really are out there for how behavior analysis can be applied, because I'm talking a lot about the work that I do, the research that I do that is, you know, really health behavior intervention, but in a totally different way than what people are used to. I also had that really basic background as well, that basic training I love and appreciate.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:14:52):

And so I can, I hope to try to instill that in my students, I also teach research methods and I love research more than anything. So, I hope that I try to instill some of that passion for research, and maybe we can hear from our students too a little bit about that. Cause they've both been involved with research that we've done. So yeah, that's, that's my unique angle that I bring and I'll let the other two talk about what they bring that's unique to the table that I think is different than other programs.

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:15:19):

I think I can jump in from there. I think I get to teach the applied courses. I get to teach introduction to ABA. I get to teach behavioral assessment and functional analysis and it gets to teach ethics. And so those courses are very much applied. And so I get to bring in my actual clinical experience into my examples in class, and we do a lot of role-playing in class. We do a lot of actual practical examples to teach the students those actual clinical skills. And so then it's great to actually be able to supervise students while they're doing their practicum experiences. So I'm getting to have them in class learning some of those foundational clinical skills and then getting to see them actually apply those skills and really grow in their skills as practitioners. So over the course of two years, it's really getting to see that development. And I think that's one unique point of having us be involved with teaching our students, that I get to see students across those two years and get to really be involved in that development and growth.

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:16:11):

And so I think one unique aspect that Dr. Raiff mentioned is that we do come in with different experiences and different backgrounds. So our students are getting to hear those examples from each of us. And from my perspective, I'm actively doing clinical work. I'm supervising students in the field doing work in the home, doing work in our clinical setting. And so getting to bring in those examples in a real-world, and sometimes it is sharing ongoing cases that we're seeing in class as we're giving examples. And so students are getting to hear about and share about their own clinical experiences. I think that makes us unique that we are each coming into it and working really well together, but getting to share with students, our unique backgrounds, and also to piggyback on that the psychology department has 18 faculty members. And so the faculty members in our psych department have a really broad range of interests in the healthcare fields. And so students in our Ph.D. program are not only working with us in our labs, but they're getting to take courses with faculty members who have this broad application of psychology and across the lifespan across presenting concerns across settings. And so they're really coming in with a very broad knowledge and understanding from getting to interact with all of our faculty members.

Dr. Michelle Soreth (00:17:21):

I think, and for me, I think it's been an interesting kind of journey. I always view myself sort of as the utility player. So I've taught courses in the entire span of the program. And I think that was largely a function I started as I said almost 15 years ago now. And the program was not in existence. So helping Mary Lou Kerwin sort of build the program and my own interests, I always feel my interests started and I think at the heart of it, or is really the philosophy of behavior analysis at its core. It's, it's a real passion of mine. And so I, and I tell my students too, I was like, I might not be the smartest approach, but I know even from the time that I got into the field this really the love for behavior analysis almost in its entirety meaning all of the branches. And so I ended up with this crazy idea that I, as a professional, want to be good and have expertise in each area. So in the philosophy and be able to run a basic study and do the basic science and then also have contact and do work in the applied field, which was a later really for me, a later development that came down the road in my career in education, mostly towards the end of, of graduate school for me. So I ended up teaching a wide range of courses at the heart of it, I feel a very strong connection with the philosophy of science and its implication for a wide range of you know, a wide range of implications, really in terms of social justice and social change. And those sorts of things are very near and dear to my heart.

Dr. Michelle Soreth (00:19:13):

So I hope my own role is a sort of grounding force in that for students. And as Rowan has grown. And I'm sure we'll talk about that as we go forward. Rowan has grown as a university over the years and Dr. Ray mentioned it, you know, just getting to medical schools. And we started as a relatively small medium-sized state school that was largely a commuter school very much teaching-oriented and teaching-focused university and has grown into a larger and larger research base with Ph.D. programs and again, two medical schools and seeing that growth and trajectory while still holding on to really high-quality teaching has been a challenge, but it's something that I think is unique about our program. And so to a certain extent that's been my area. And then I've been fortunate to do some research in the area of as I mentioned previously, early intensive behavioral intervention, specifically those based on Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior. And I've gotten some external funding for that, some grant funding and hopefully to continue that, that has given we've had numerous students, you know, there's been for the one project that we recently completed over 50 students had participated in that project and got some research-level clinical base, you know, clinic-based experience and research that. And so I'd like to continue that, and I hope that's what I can bring to the table for them.

Shauna Costello (00:20:52):

Well, that's really exciting. And even just to hear even just from the three of you and your, what you are interested in to hear how wide of a variety it is, but then on top of that, they have these other opportunities to work with these other faculty members too, to learn about even more things. So I think that that really does like you said, Bethany, it really does show the uniqueness that Rowan has. And so next, I typically talk about practicum opportunities. I know that that was mentioned in the intro and I'm actually, from what I've heard so far, I am very excited to hear what type of practicum opportunities are available

Dr. Michelle Soreth (00:21:37):

Really over the years, practicum is something that's developed and changed. We have in the state of New Jersey, we are fortunate to be fairly rich with services, service providers good BCBAs in the area. And that's certainly evolved over the years as well, but it sort of even started there. So we've had a history of placements and variety of settings, you know, home-based services for individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities including autism, placements in school settings, and home settings as I mentioned, clinic-based settings, and then over once Christina Simmons had joined us and which was so exciting for us was that now we had the faculty resources to start to work on developing an in-house clinic and a training clinic for our practicum students. So we've really turned our focus to those opportunities, which have been amazing because you're able to provide all of the activities and opportunities for learning that that really the task list is indicating and dictating and getting that those in place very firmly before the students go off into a diversity of opportunities after that.

Dr. Michelle Soreth (00:23:04):

So it's really been a sort of grounding feature of the master's program in applied behavior analysis, the clinical program, we'll let Bethany talk about a little bit and the students too, Matt specifically, that they've had some amazing opportunities in hospital-based settings and that kind of thing with given the medical school resources that we have. But Dr. Simmons has been absolutely instrumental in getting that training clinic up and running and doing a tremendous amount of clinical work and supervision. I also do supervision within that and often teach the practicum course Dr. Kerwin and I shared that course for a number of years. And then once she moved to department head Dr. Simmons, and I will likely share the responsibilities of that course going forward, but I'll let her talk about some of the opportunities as well.

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:23:58):

Sure. Thanks for that segue, Michelle. So talking about our clinical services, we have at Rowan in the Center for Behavior Analysis. And so the Center for Behavioral Analysis, lets students participate in both research-based clinical work, as well as clinical services that we're providing. So my specialty is our severe behavioral clinic. So we have the capacity to serve individuals with very severe challenging behaviors in padded treatment rooms with full-body equipment that we're able to keep ourselves as well as our clients safe. So we're seeing individuals with very severe topographies of challenging leaders, severe self-injury, severe aggression, property destruction that may not be able to be served in other settings. They may have struggled to receive services in schools or in the home. And so we're able to bring them onto our campus, to our clinic and our students, both at the undergraduate and the graduate level serve as our therapists.

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:24:50):

So they go through intensive training in the management of severe challenging behavior, as well as the interventions and protocols that we're conducting. So those students under my supervision are able to work with this population that they may never have had the chance to work within other settings. And as they go on to work in more applied settings may not deal what that level of severity. In our center, we also see early intervention clients. So working on basic skill-building, primarily in individuals with autism and developmental disabilities, early language developments, Dr. Kerwin is an expert in pediatric feeding disorders. So we have seen clients presenting concerns in the feeding domain. We do parent training through our clinic as well as staff training, we can train teachers and other community members through that clinic that we have on campus. We also have a contract from the state of New Jersey to provide in-home services, both in intensive in-home intervention services and skill-building services.

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:25:48):

So that's something where we place a majority of our practicum students now under our supervision that we're placing them in the home to work on managing challenging behaviors and building skills and individuals with developmental disabilities. And so that to me is a really unique opportunity for our students because they're getting to take a level of clinical skills that they may have been under the supervision of the BCBA. They may not have gotten to do development of plans out in their work settings or other practicum settings. But here under our intensive supervision, they're actually developing treatment protocols. They're going into the home and they're working with parents, they're training parents, they're learning to manage some of those external circumstances that might get in the way of intervention effectiveness. They're working in home settings with a lot of barriers to treatments that we're able to supervise them and work through ethical dilemmas.

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:26:34):

We're able to work through managing some of those external circumstances. And so it's been really amazing for me to see at the start when we bring students into our where they're at and then see that develop over the course of that year and a half, that they're in practicum. They may come in and the beginning we're teaching them how to graph treatment data to make clinical treatment decisions. We're teaching them how to write their first protocol that they've had to write in their clinical experience. And then by the end, they're presenting in our practicum class, they're doing case presentations, they have run a full evaluation. And so I think it's really great to see that level of independence that they're developing over the course of that practicum experience. I think another aspect to me that's really, really meaningful is that we're teaching them to do functional analysis in the home setting, wherein a lot of places that they may work, that's not something that happens in clinical practice.

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:27:24):

It's something that people might be afraid of people might shy away from. And so we're figuring out ways that we can modify functional analysis protocols so that they can run them in the home. They can run them with parents and they can really get to assess and evaluate those challenging topographies, that behavior. And so that, to me, hopefully, those are skills we're giving them if they're going out into their first jobs as BCBAs, and they're going to impart those skills on future supervisees, that we can do functional analysis. We can treat problem behaviors in the real world.

Shauna Costello (00:27:52):

Well, and this is something from, I've been an independent contractor before. And so this really rings home for me because, and this is a personal preference, but I've been the clinical director, you know, the bigger analytic program. And then after that, then I went to independent consulting. And then after that, I just kind of left the clinical world and went into more training and dissemination. But one thing I noticed that when I was an independent contractor, I actually felt as though I was getting better results because you're actually working within, and I know you brought this up too, with some of your research and things like that with the social validity of the interventions that they're doing because there's only we're not the only ones seeing our clients. And we often don't see our clients as often as their families do. So being able to do that and learn how to do that in a setting, that's not as controlled as we prefer it to be is, is really neat to hear about as well. So yeah, that's really, that's really, really exciting, but the practicum site sound absolutely amazing. And are all of the practicum sites encompassed in their program? Is it they're all through approved Rowan university sites?

Dr. Michelle Soreth (00:29:17):

Yeah. At least yes, they are for the master's program. They're all vetted by the practicum instructor and the program when we place them outside of the of the Center for Behavior Analysis in-house clinic in those cases they're very and we have really excellent chips, you know, Southern New Jersey is an interesting sort of place in terms of Northern New Jersey is extremely densely populated, but Southern New Jersey, there are portions of it that are actually quite rural. As well as as you move closer to the central part of the state the population density increases. So it's kind of neat that you have these opportunities for a variety of settings, even just within the urban, suburban, rural and there are very different dynamics that take place even when you're doing home programming within that. So the variety of options, I think in terms of where their placements are if they are not with us directly it's a really neat sort of opportunity I think, for the students to have. And that goes for the Ph.D. students, as well as of course the master's students, which I'm most familiar with, but Ph.D. students as well.

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:30:41):

I was going to add one thing to that. I think a very cool aspect for me to see is that some of our supervisors are our former students and getting to be here and teach my first full cohort of students in the two years in the master's program. And then to hire some of those students as our BCBAs to supervise some of our practicum cases in our in-home program was really exciting to know that you worked on their clinical skills, that you taught them from first coming in and learning about behavior analysis and learning how to apply these skills to then going on, to be a supervisor. And so both in our in-house clinic and our in-home program, but also other agencies that we have those relationships with students once they graduate and they get to come back and supervise in our program, which is really exciting.

Shauna Costello (00:31:23):

Well, it just shows too that I think that that shows how much the students are enjoying the program as well, that they're, you know, they want to keep helping, they want to, you know, they're committed to even putting time back into the other future students. And that kind of brings me to thinking of Jessica and Matt, or sitting here so long, because that ties right into, you know, what is that student experience as well?

Jessica Nastasi (00:31:55):

I guess I can go first representing my experience in the master's program. So I grew up in South Jersey. I started working in a school when I was, let's see 19. And that was kind of when I had my first exposure to behavior analysis, working as a teaching assistant. So I didn't really know what it was at that point, but I knew it worked. I saw that it worked. So I said, I think that's what I want to do. I had been a psychology major during my bachelor's and I decided to pursue my master's at Rowan. And I like that we talked about the variety of the program earlier and the variety of our faculty members' backgrounds because it really ended up kind of changing the course of my career. I went into the program expecting to come out and stay involved in clinical work, but after being exposed to kind of the breadth of the field of behavior analysis, I fell in love with the science. I fell in love with the research and here I am now still in school but very much enjoying it at the University of Florida. And I really do think that is a testament to the kind of love and passion that these women inspired in me and other students as well for behavior analysis and the field.

Shauna Costello (00:33:25):

Well, and to kind of add on to that too, that, you know, a lot of the practicum was described the research opportunities and of the faculty were described as well. And then you also mentioned who you're studying under right now, which is also kind of different because Dr. Gravina is, is known as an OBM-er as well. So it's, it's really neat to see that a previous master's student can really take her interests, tailor them to exactly what you wanted, and then you were still able to get into and study under you know, one of the, Dr. Gravina is phenomenal. So that's exciting to, you know, see that as well.

Jessica Nastasi (00:34:10):

Yeah, I agree. And I think that's also kind of a Testament to the foundational skills that I received at Rowan. I don't think I would be able to be here without what I learned from Dr. Sawyer, Dr. Simmons, and Dr. Raiff so,

Shauna Costello (00:34:27):

Yep. I have to a hundred percent agree with that.

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:34:29):

I was going to say, Jessica, if you want to speak a little bit more about your involvement with research and how you developed that passion for research while you're here at Rowan, I think you had a really unique journey through developing your interests in arriving at OBM.

Jessica Nastasi (00:34:42):

Yeah, I did. For sure. So I had mentioned that my background was more clinical. So working with children on the spectrum primarily, I had worked as a teaching assistant and an RBT. And then I, so through Rowan's program, you generally are assigned to one major faculty member, kind of a mentor. And I ended up working with Bethany or Dr. Raiff I'm flip-flopping between first name and last name. That's kind of that weird dynamic of graduating. But, I fell in love with some of the research I had been learning about in class. So I went to Bethany who was my mentor at the time, and I like to say lifelong mentor if you're comfortable with that hat. But she offered me an opportunity to get involved with some of the research she had going on at the time, which was at contingency management-based interventions. It was an application for smoking cessation. So a really cool project. I had, I didn't have a background in contingency management, but she saw that I was really passionate and she gave me that opportunity to start learning. So from there, I learned more about the research process, and essentially I would say that based on the exposure I had to some of the more unique areas of behavior analysis I learned that it could be applied with typically developing adults as well, which I had no clue originally. And I kind of stumbled upon OBM at one point at a conference halfway through my career in the master's program. And I told Bethany, and she said, you know, that's not my area of expertise, but I support your interests. So I kind of delved into that. And here I am now. Yeah.

Shauna Costello (00:36:52):

Well, I mean, that's really great to hear too, because I think that that is something that we constantly have to do and just remember as professionals and as supervisors that we are producing the next supervisors too. So to have a mentor that was like, Hey, no, this isn't necessarily what I do, but I want to support you however I can. So this is probably going to be me doing some professional development as well and continuously learning. Cause I feel like it's a con when you are, when you have students, I feel like you're always continuously learning as well. So that was really, I really like hearing that.

Jessica Nastasi (00:37:28):

Yeah. I should also note that both Bethany and Christina gave me the opportunity to kind of help develop, Christina her severe behavior clinic was just getting off the ground when I was in the program and she allowed me to kind of help assist her with developing a lab management program, and then Bethany similarly allowed me to kind of head-up performance management and intervention with the lab there. So, it all ended up kind of coming together in this journey.

Matt Dwyer (00:38:02):

Yeah, I suppose I can speak firsthand as being a member of Bethany's lab and seeing Jessica being able to take students from an undergraduate program and outside of the behavior analysis to emphasize the master's program and behavior analysis and in the Ph.D. program in clinical psychology and be able to really streamline all of that different sort of hierarchical roles in the lab and the variety and diversity of the research projects, and really being able to find out where people can maximize their interests and be most effective in sort of making sure that the projects are moving forward in the most efficient way. And I think, you know, having her in that role and really being able to see the benefit of having somebody with an OB emerging OB specialty in a lab management role was really I think worthwhile

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:39:00):

Definitely helped our lab function a lot more smoothly. And we got some really good students to come in because of your leadership too or your organization and use of those different strategies. So that was great.

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:39:12):

And we're still using the bones and structure of the lab manual that Jessica created for us. So it was definitely beneficial for my lab as well.

Shauna Costello (00:39:20):

That's so awesome to hear. And then how about you, Matt? What about your experience?

Matt Dwyer (00:39:27):

Sure. I was kind of taking some notes as everybody was talking and thinking, where am I going to be able to get edited into this conversation as you know, I'm really the only one here without a BCBA is I'm kind of the odd person out. And I think really kind of piggybacking off of what Bethany was saying earlier with the uniqueness of the Ph.D. program at Rowan and sort of where its mission is moving forward is something that was the reason why I sort of took a chance really coming to Rowan. I'm only a part of the second cohort in the program. So there was only one year of Guinea pigs in front of me, and then we're kind of the second group being thrown out into the world. And now we are on our fifth year and recently achieved accreditation on contingency from the APA and up for a full review next year.

Matt Dwyer (00:40:25):

So it's been very fast in the past four or five years now. And it's great to be looking forward. My background, I think is very non-traditional I've come to learn for most people in behavior analysis as well. I started in a small rural school in Southern Minnesota, Winona State University in a basic behavioral pharmacology lab. I was working with a mentor John Holden, who was doing research on a malaria drug are used in active-duty soldiers. And we were doing self-administration studies and operant chambers and looking at the mood-altering effects of that on mouse behavior. And that sort of is my introduction to, you know, behavioral pharmacology, basic behavioral principles and substance use, and an interest in working with a military population. And so that was my goal and pursuing graduate education in psychology was to become a licensed psychologist and potentially work with veterans and individuals in the military.

Matt Dwyer (00:41:30):

And developing an interest in substance use is my of research. But at the time I didn't know anything about behavior analysis. My only background was taking the undergraduate learning and behavior course. And I had an emerging interest in acceptance and commitment therapy as well. A third-wave behavioral approach to psychotherapy that really spoke to me in terms of an intervention that was connected to the scientific and philosophical roots of functional contextualism. I really found when I was learning about cognitive behavioral therapy and other approaches to a more kind of the traditional psychological interventions being very disconnected from the research, the research into practice was something that I had a really hard time with that with ACT in particular and other. And I'm finding other third-wave behavioral therapies as well, like functional analytic psychotherapy and dialectical behavior therapy.

Matt Dwyer (00:42:26):

There's a much clearer link to the basic science and the philosophical foundation in terms of how it's put into practice and what these techniques were doing and how they're actually supposed to work and why. And so that was what the motivation was for me to pursue a master's degree in both clinical psychology and in behavior analysis at Eastern Michigan University, which is another program that I would say is also very unique in terms of Rowan being also very unique in that it's the only program I'm familiar with, there might be more now, but at the time when I was applying, it was the only program I was familiar with where you could after achieving the master's degree, pursue a dual licensure as a limited licensed psychologist in the state of Michigan and a BCBA and work in settings where you could do, you know, and that opens so many doors in terms of the top populations.

Matt Dwyer (00:43:20):

You can work with types of issues you can work with. And that really was an ideal training for me especially with somebody with an interest in working in not typical, not traditional behavior analysis backgrounds, I say I've worked enough in settings and homes and centers with individuals on the autism spectrum and working with families and kids to know that it's just not my calling. And there are people much, much more talented than I who are definitely going to be able to do wonderful things in those areas, but that just wasn't going to be for me. And so when I was choosing a master's program to go to the program at Eastern Michigan, in addition to it being in the dual clinical and behavior analysis program they have a number of faculty members there who are graduates of Reno's clinical program worked with even work directly under Steve Hays in the early ACT labs and worked.

Matt Dwyer (00:44:15):

And so that was an ideal setting for me to get that background and the philosophical foundation and functional contextualism and behavior analysis to then continue on with the Ph.D. And then ultimately continuing on with the Ph.D., choosing a graduate program, I learned about Rowan at I think it was 2015 ABAI I had gone to a symposium I'd never heard of Rowan before being from the Midwest. You couldn't have predicted that I would have ended up in New Jersey of all places. But I went to a symposium on contingency management and novel settings where Dr. Soreth or Michelle and Bethany were co-presenters along with other members of Rowan's program and outside of Rowan's institution. And I having a small bet or some understanding of contingency management, you know, having an interest in working with substance use it was something that was sort of the opening, the foundation of learning about Rowan's program.

Matt Dwyer (00:45:24):

And at the time it was still, I don't even know if we had our first class at that point, but I applied in the fall and found a home in a clinical psychology program that I appreciated and where my behavior analysis background was really an asset. And so while the clinical program is not a behavior analysis emphasis, it's a health psychology program. The uniqueness of having behavior analysts, individuals with BCBA-D's in the clinical program is really unique, something I'm not sure, I wasn't able to find in other programs and would have also been a good fit for me and then the variety of the applied training as well, having the medical schools there, I've done practicum training in Cooper's medical school, working in Camden, New Jersey with underserved populations, both working with substance use and other health psychology areas.

Matt Dwyer (00:46:21):

And I'm currently working in the Philadelphia VA in their sleep clinic. So I'm doing a sleep clinic specialization and with cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, my background and behavior analysis was a very smooth transition. I have a very strong understanding of what stimulus control is, how to implement it, understanding why things like sleep restriction therapy work in terms of increasing the stimulus value of sleep. And so it's all an expression and an application of these basic behavioral principles that I learned in my master's program in a setting where behavior analysts currently are not necessarily working. And so I feel very privileged to be able to be a part of that larger dissemination story in widening the scope and umbrella of what behavior analysis can be.

Shauna Costello (00:47:13):

That's really, that's really exciting. And the types of experiences, you know, we've been hearing about with the, with the health stuff along with that to then yeah. Spread it out because I'm just really excited that it's just sounds, it just sounds so that, and I think that that is showing too, that just because you don't have this BCBA title behind your name doesn't mean you're not a behavior analyst, that's not what that means so I think you're a case in point to that as well.

Matt Dwyer (00:47:47):

Yeah, Definitely. I've definitely found a role as oftentimes be having a unique voice to contribute in settings where behavior analysts may not be currently operating in, not even just among psychologists, where we might have a common language and sort of common roots to be able to draw from, but other interdisciplinary providers too, you know, we're working with physicians, nurses, and social workers and integrated health settings and Rowan's program with their training specifically being it's a single track health psychology integrated care is really the mission of the program. And what it was designed from the ground up for is this 21st-century expansion of not even just behavior analysis, but psychology at large into more traditional healthcare settings. And that's something that really appealed to me as a very future-oriented approach to a very new program that has, I think, been very flexible. And it's sort of pursuit of that mission.

Shauna Costello (00:48:51):

Well, and I think that that also speaks to even the goals of the field of behavior analysis. This is something that we're going to have to do as behavior analysts. You know, it's not like this is how we, you know, we get in with those other practitioners we start working within these integrated health systems that you're talking about when we really start building that up these relationships. So I know some people who, from my previous program at Western because of the clinical and the behavior analysis students work very closely there, but I've also heard of some of them going out to the East coast VAs as well to do kind of the similar stuff. So it's a unique experience that a lot of people don't necessarily get from a strictly behavior analytic program.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:49:40):

I think you also speak to an important point, like sort of on both sides of it. So on the one hand, you know, we're bringing in people with behavioral analytic training into our doc program to get that additional exposure and new opportunities. And at the same time in our master's program, we try to be pretty open as to who we are willing to entertain as students and try to get people from really different backgrounds. So it's not just people who've got that traditional background and training. We're pretty open. We really want to see the field go into these other areas. So we've had like people from you know, the police backgrounds and others from different, totally different, not your traditional at all training and get cause they're really, you know, they have to show that they really understand and are about behavior analysis and want to learn about it. But then we would love for them to bring that into their discipline and, and learning from us and take it there. So that's something we really embrace as well.

Dr. Christina Simmons (00:50:38):

I think we even carry that into our school psychology program, getting to teach students in our school psych program, future school, psychologists were going out and disseminating practice into the schools. We actually moved when I came to Rowan to change the research requirement to a single case design requirement. So they're not trained in behavior analysis, but I teach a two-course seminar to them where they're learning about single case design or developing an intervention. They're running it with three students in the schools. And our goal there is to send them out as future practitioners who can work with BCBA'a who understand how to interpret single case design data, how to actually evaluate treatment outcomes. I think Rowan really is across all levels focused on that dissemination of our science to more than just our master's level clinicians.

Dr. Michelle Soreth (00:51:22):

Yeah. I think that's been our in the master's program in ABA too, it's, it's finding the right balance of in a 33 credit hour program, it takes about two years to complete in those two years, how do you give someone sort of the foundation that they need to be able to jump off into these other areas or pursue, you know, the BCBA working in homes with the population with intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities and sort of walk that path as well, how do you provide that for everyone and that, that stable platform. And I do think it comes down to the foundation in behavior analysis as the science and that's really what we focused on over the years is how to do that, so that you get that sort of the broadness and the dissemination and everything that comes afterward that they have a stable platform to work from.

Shauna Costello (00:52:18):

Yeah. I really liked that too. I just like hearing that. This is one thing that I find when I was starting to reach out to schools and things like that. And I know I said this earlier to all of you, but you really can only learn so much from a website, none of this info, okay yes, some of this information is on the website, but I mean, this is not something you're going to necessarily learn from their website. This is really, you know, this program that has all of these, it's just multifaceted and it's, you know, open, willing to teach. They want to teach, you want to disseminate, you want to put out practitioners in, into the field, whether they're researchers, practitioners professors, whatever it is, you want to put them out there to be, you know, really doing what they want to be doing. And so it's been really exciting to listen to. But what about, Oh yeah, go ahead.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:53:15):

There's I didn't know if you were gonna if you were if you had more questions or there were a couple of things that I didn't mention about our program that I wanted to make sure are clear. One of them is the unique location kind of come up in the dialogue here a little bit about where we're located, we're in South Jersey, but that is a really cool place to be because we're right outside of Philadelphia, we're about 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia, you know, very, you know, large city, obviously lots of opportunities there. But as Dr. Sorath mentioned earlier, there are also very rural parts of South Jersey. So it's very rural. There are, we are really close to New York City and Washington DC. So as far as just looking for a place to live, even for people who don't know the area, and maybe Matt can speak to a little bit about this since he didn't live in this area. But and I didn't either. I'm not from here. So just you know, it's a great place to live. It's a great, a great location to have access to all different kinds.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:54:10):

We've got the beaches, obviously. So location-wise, it's, it's amazing and for opportunity in terms of doing, you know, just gaining opportunities for practicum and things like that. And then, you know, we do, we don't require students to be involved with research, but we have tons of research going on and we, at least our master's students, we don't require it, but we really encourage it. And if we see that a student has an interest or maybe wants to go on to a doctoral program, we really encourage our students to get involved. We'd love to have our master's students involved in research, and we've had some very successful ones obviously with Jessica as an example, and others as well, we've had several students go on to Ph.D. programs after completing our master's program. So just wanted to get those in and have the best time but I wanted to make points.

Shauna Costello (00:54:57):

Well, I mean, you read my mind because that is one of the things that I'm going to ask is about the area. And it's actually kind of neat because I actually am pretty familiar with the area I've been out to Stratford multiple times, and I know Stratford is pretty close to you. But I.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:55:16):

One of our medical schools is in Strafford actually.

Shauna Costello (00:55:18):

So I know that was really interesting, you know, when I was looking at the location, cause I'm like, I know it's, I know it's like, you know, in South Jersey, I know it's gotta be close because I was, we'd always go to, we always go to Philly when we were there visiting. So, I mean, yeah, I mean the students, I mean the three of you can speak to this too about what the area is like, but also I know some of the students might want to mention, you know if they had a life outside of classes and what they did and things like that as well.

Jessica Nastasi (00:55:49):

So I grew up in South Jersey. So I think me and Matt probably had some interesting perspectives on the area. I think Bethany made some great points about how close we are to Philly. I like the city. So it's a very quick hop, skip, and a jump over the Delaware to get to Philly. If you want to, you know, see museums or go out and do different things. So that's great, but also if you're not so much a city person, there's a lot of nature around as well. That's not too far Rowen. So I think what's cool about the location is having those options. You kind of centered different options that way.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:56:34):

There is good food in Philly too. good food, good music, good food, good museums, lots of good stuff. If you like that, but don't want to live there. It's not far to get to.

Shauna Costello (00:56:43):

not far, it's easy to get to. And the museum there's the plethora of museums that Philly has is absolutely amazing.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:56:53):

And it's just a day trip to New York. DC's a little bit further, but to get to New York City, it's just a day trip. If you know, people want the big city.

Matt Dwyer (00:57:02):

So I'm currently living in Philadelphia and going to school at Rowan down in Jersey. So, and I know that lots of students will do that. And I also, my first two years in Glassboro right off campus and Rowan, even though the school is in somewhat of a rural part of South Jersey, the community has really, as the school has grown the community around the school has really grown too. There's a whole downtown area in Glassboro that did not exist until even 10 years ago that has really been built up. And as the student body and the student population has grown it's really, I think from what I've been told from people who have lived in the community as this transition from Glassboro State to Rowan University, it has really turned into a bonafide college town where I think the undergraduate students really have a great experience there, you know, the graduate students who maybe choose to live in town if that's something that they are looking for or can live in more of an urban setting if they'd like to as well.

Shauna Costello (00:58:06):

I mean, and what about the three of the faculty members?

Dr. Bethany Raiff (00:58:09):

We all live in the same town. We're also, that's the other thing about our program that maybe you can tell already, but we're very close as faculty. We do everything collaboratively. This is like our family, you know our family outside of our family. And so we actually all live within blocks of each other, but not in town with the college at the university, we live closer to Philadelphia. We're about 10 minutes outside of Philly, about 25 minutes commute to the university in a small town. That's really just a great, great place to live. And I love it here. Like I said, I'm not, I'm from, I'm actually from Wisconsin originally. So I'm a Midwest girl too. And temperature, like I hated the winter. I left, I left Wisconsin because partly because I used to move on, but also because I couldn't handle the winters in Wisconsin and I actually moved to Florida. So I went to the University of Florida. So I got the extreme other end of it. So really, really too, too hot for too long. And that was great at the time. It was a good break from Wisconsin, but I feel like Jersey the south Jersey, and this could be global warming. I don't know. Maybe it's maybe that's, I feel it's just kind of a balance of all the seasons. And so for me, this is like finally hitting the stride. It's not too cold in the winter. It's not too, it does get pretty hot in the summer, but it's for a shorter period of time, we get fall, we get spring. It's great. We get, we have good food and good things to do, but we can also go on a hike or we can go you know, to a farm if we want and that kind of thing. That's a great place for family as well.

Matt Dwyer (00:59:43):

Yeah, I can definitely, you know, being from the Midwest and thriving, Minnesota and living in Michigan, I can appreciate having a fall in New Jersey, especially this year. You know, we're, we're in the midst of the fall in New Jersey and it's fantastic. And my poor family back in Minnesota are already into winter with snow on the ground. So I definitely find the weather to be a plus for sure.

Dr. Christina Simmons (01:00:03):

I was going to say that was a huge draw for me. When I was interviewing for faculty positions, I was living out in Omaha, Nebraska, and was coming to interview at different places. I mean, I kind of looked across the country and I really wanted the best fit for me. And I didn't really know what to expect coming to Rowan. And I think a huge selling point for me was and I tell them this all the time I had lunch with Bethany and Michelle, and it was just such a refreshing conversation. They talked about how much there was to do here, how much Philly had to offer living right outside Philly, being able to jump on the train, and be in Philly in 10 minutes. That was a huge draw for me wanting to be close to a city and all the amenities of a city, but while living in a small town. And so being able to work in Glassboro, which is a more rural area, but still have the lifestyle that I wanted and access to wonderful food and music entertainment. I think really the area has been awesome for me the last three years.

Dr. Michelle Soreth (01:01:02):

And I've been here for a while. I am originally from South Florida the West Palm Beach area and went to college outside in winter park and Rollins college. And so when I went to graduate school in Philadelphia, it was quite a shock and change. But over the years in Philly for graduate school, I fell in love with the area. I just, you know, the vibrancy of the city, which sometimes at least I don't think it happens as much anymore, but you know, that decade or two ago Philadelphia was sort of the Oh, it's, the city is not, not great to live in. And there were a lot of misperceptions I think about it. And so after living there for graduate school and seeing the, especially like everyone said, the food is amazing and the ability, the social activism, and opportunities to be involved with that the intellectual there are multiple large universities in Philadelphia and in the region and the Metro area.

Dr. Michelle Soreth (01:02:11):

And just that, you know, the intellectual vibrancy of the city, which is so underrated, I think that people aren't aware of. And it, just to me, when I compared that to South Florida, no disrespect to my home state, but it's just, when people say, why would you move to, you know, and then choose as a faculty member to stay in the area. And when the opportunity for Rowan came up, it was like, Oh my gosh, the stars have aligned or something because I had loved the area so much. So living here and being able to do that I think has been a major draw. And it's just sort of a very unique combination of variables. I think that makes it positioned in a place that general content for someone who is really looking for those kinds of qualities in a home, you know? So so it's been wonderful. I am very thankful that we live here.

Shauna Costello (01:03:15):

One of the other questions too, that I always like to ask is what is the application process and the interview process, if there is one,

Dr. Bethany Raiff (01:03:28):

So I'll do my best to feel that question seeing as I have not done the applying but I, on the receiving end of it, I can tell you so it's an electronic submission, and part of our university that handles all of that is called Rowan global. And so you go to the Rowan global site, go log in. It there's some application process. Typically I think we request a personal statement. We don't require GRE scores at all, or GRE's to be included in that. We do, I think require two letters of recommendation, I believe it is. And yeah. Is there anything I'm missing? So your transcripts obviously, well, as far as like what we're looking for, and this is obviously I'm talking about the master's program, but like, what we're looking for are people that actually know what behavior analysis is, which I'm sure your listeners are gonna know.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (01:04:24):

But know what it is have maybe at least some actual experience doing something related to behavior analysis or have that either have a lot of coursework or have that practical experience. So it could be at the undergraduate level being at a stronger, or like just being at a university that offered behavior, analytic courses and that kind of thing. And then we do have an interview process, which typically is in person. We usually do it in March, I believe. So I think applications are typically due in February. And then we have the interview process in March. You know, people are often local, so they'll come in, but if we have people who are further away, I think we are able to accommodate, we've done some zoom and Skype type of interviews as well. We do have an you know, usually it's one-on-one or two one-on-one interview process for two of the three of us would interview a person together and, you know, pretty brief interview. And usually part of that interview process is a writing requirements. So there's some kind of question that we'll give and then have a person that people write a little something as part of that interview, am I missing anything? I don't, think I captured everything.

Dr. Michelle Soreth (01:05:35):

I think you said the statement of objectives too. We really do look at personal statement and take it very seriously, especially because we don't, we don't require the GRE. And we have found that at least for the master's program, it's not a great indicator of how strong a behavior analyst they're likely to be at this level. You know, the Ph.D. programs, different situation, but for the master. So we definitely take any kind of experience and it doesn't have to be, as Bethany said, it doesn't have to be a traditional experience, but anything with behavior analysis that gives them some background in it was wonderful and much appreciated, but definitely as a good statement of objectives that sort of indicates to us that they know what they're getting into and what they're, hopefully even if they're not super concrete yet future goals and purposes.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (01:06:30):

Yeah. so that's true. The statement of purpose is important. I mean, and just in that again, demonstrating that you really know what you're getting into. I think that's it, you know, we want to make sure that people, sometimes they think that we're the behavioral analysis unit like of a forensic. So if you get people who don't really like, they're applying to our program, but they think we're something else. And so we really wanna make sure that they know what this is about. Also one of the things I wanted to mention, there's usually an application fee. I think it's like 75 bucks, but we have info sessions that if a person attends an info session, usually they'll waive that fee. So just a little heads up to people who might be interested in applying.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (01:07:09):

And I also wanted to mention our doctoral program, which I believe applications are due in December. Is that correct? Yeah, so December they're due in December and we also have an interview process with that. It's really important if you're gonna apply to our doc program to indicate who you're interested in working with for a mentor, you know, what research interests you have again, that, that perfect, that personal statement is going to be really important. As far as that application process goes this year, anyway, in 2020, seeing as everything's different we are not requiring a GRE for the doctoral program, and I'm not sure if we'll be re-introducing it or not. I think that's up on the table for discussion. Because we realized that there are some problems with GRE as well. So I do want to get the word out about our doctoral program deadline, which is coming up a lot sooner. And or it was just in December, whenever people listen to this. And then we do the interview process. Again, we typically will bring people in and it is like, Matt maybe will be able to speak more to this, but it's like a two-day event. It's everybody who we're interviewing comes across two weekends, I think it is. And it's two days, is it one day or two days of interviewing? I think it's two days, two days of interviewing and usually, people will come the night before. There's some social event where you get to meet the graduate students. You'll often be hosted by graduate students. So we have people coming from all over the country for that. And students will then they'll meet, they'll have like an info session where they learn about the program and they meet with all the faculty that they're interested in, who are also matched up. There's I think that that's the main gist of it, but it's, it's a pretty big event that we have for interview days.

Matt Dwyer (01:08:55):

I want to throw it when one correction, our deadline is actually January 1st for the certification program.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (01:09:04):

So that will give you a bit more time.

Matt Dwyer (01:09:04):

Get it in December, for sure.

Speaker 4 (01:09:06):

So we've covered a lot. We have covered an overview. We've covered faculty research, practicum, student experience, location, application, and interview. Is there anything else that anyone wants to make sure that people listening to this will hear about Rowan?

Matt Dwyer (01:09:27):

Yeah. I wanted to throw out just one more thing about the location from a potential students perspective, moving here thing Philadelphia is a really accessible city especially coming from the Midwest and hearing all sorts of things about, you know, what living in a big city on the East coast might be like. I've found Philadelphia to be very affordable and also still have a lot of the amenities that you'd expect from a very large city. Lots of people from our program come from New York and they always comment on how, how much cheaper Philadelphia is to live and to and then being able to have a car and be able to commute is something that's very realistic. And it really opens a lot of opportunities to do practicum settings and the whole kind of four-state area, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and even all the way up to New York some students have done that. And then in terms of like going from Detroit Metro to Philly Metro one of the things that I, I really enjoyed in graduate school is trying to go to as many different concerts and the different music venues in the city is something I sort of had as like a side hobby that I would try to do, go to a show at least once or twice a month challenging during COVID very upsetting. But when I was in Detroit, that's something I started doing with Detroit's really rich in music, history, and music scene. And something I definitely had been able to continue on. And Philadelphia is something that I enjoy.

Dr. Christina Simmons (01:10:55):

That brought up another memory of another point that I wanted to make about our master's program and the same is true for our Ph.D. program. But we have a cohort model where students come in in a group and they're taking their classes together. They're getting to be very close over the course of the two years in the master's program in the four years that they're here on campus for the Ph.D. program. And I think that really helps our students to have people to study with have professional connections that they're going to maintain beyond just our program. I know we had a reunion a couple of years ago and it was great to see students come together and they clearly had maintained friendships. They had kept in touch beyond the two years that they were in our master's program. I think that that really helps students to get through the program and to also have that professional connection.

Dr. Bethany Raiff (01:11:41):

There's another thing I didn't mention about our master's program. The program is kind of designed so that people we expect that people are still working while they're in the program. So we don't start till three 30, which is about when the school day ends for people who are in the school system. So it does accommodate the working students as well.

Dr. Michelle Soreth (01:12:00):

Yeah. I think if someone were interested out of state coming, most of their students in the master's program are generally local they're living in the area and come to study with us, but we certainly love, and we have had several instances where students came even from abroad to live in South Jersey or to come to the area and move here and, and work with those in the master's program. And with that, we're all very open and we encourage those students to reach out to us because we have so many connections with companies in the area and programs in the area that if they're looking for work during the day and we really encourage that and a lot of cases, or to perhaps even work with us on campus and have those opportunities, it's something to reach out to the faculty. And it's something to plan for so that when they get here and arrive to South Jersey, there are already connections established. They can go on interviews and figure out where they'd like to do some of their, their work while they're in the program. So there's usually an evening start time as Bethany indicated on the classes.

Shauna Costello (01:13:13):

Right. Well, just because also because Michelle just brought it up too, is that I typically ask the faculty members if they are okay with having their email addresses, put in the description, so perfect. They are all nodding. So all of your emails will be in the description. I'm not going to bug the students. If you have any questions for the students. I know that Bethany, Christina, or Michelle would be happy to put you in contact with anybody. So please reach out to them if you have any questions, but I do want to thank all of you for taking time out of this lovely Monday to sit down and talk with me about the program. I've learned a ton about the area and the program and just what to expect when students are looking into Rowan and seeing if it is would be a good fit for them. So thank you all. 

Dr. Bethany Raiff (01:14:12):

Thank you so much. We really appreciate it. And yeah. Feel free to email us if you have questions, any other questions, if there are any, in any of the programs that we talked about.

Shauna Costello (01:14:16):

Thank you for listening to the university series. And as always, if you have questions, comments, feedback, or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to us at

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