Alumni Spotlight on… Brandon Schechter

Q: What program did you attend for your doctorate?

A: I received my degree from Columbia University’s Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology.

Q: How did you choose this program and field?

A: Truth be told, the program I graduated from sortuv-kinda found me. I had originally began at Boston University as a Masters student. While there I took several different classes and ended up doing research for a professor who was very big in the field of anxiety and related disorders. But, I sort of migrated more towards another professor who taught Forensic Psychology. Before long I was beginning my doctorate with the forensic professor, and after a year I began thinking maybe I should be in a place with a little more forensic background if that’s what I’m interested. I met who would become my advisor at Columbia during a research conference and the following school year she took me on as one of her advisees!

Q: Could you describe your journey to Graduate School?

A: My journey to graduate school is best summarized by Jerry Garcia’s line, “oh, what a long strange trip it has been.” I became very interested in psychology while attending Wooster. Once I graduated, I was set on being a child psychologist. But, I knew I wanted to take one year off to work with kids to gain some experience. I also thought this would help booster my chances of getting into a program, considering my first few semesters at Wooster weren’t exactly “stellar.” So I signed up for an AmeriCorp program called City Year, packed my bags after graduation and moved to New Hampshire to begin teaching, mentoring and tutoring at-risk middle schoolers. Let’s just say after that year, I had decided, ‘I don’t want to be a child psychologist!’ I did, however, still want to study psychology. I applied to Masters programs, began attending Boston University, and the rest is history…

Q: What is involved in your post-doctoral position?

A: My postdoctoral fellowship is at New York State Psychiatric Institute in conjunction with Columbia University Medical Center and New York Presbyterian hospital. My work is two-fold: Preventative and reactive. The former is mobilized through research- mostly NIMH/NIH and state funded grants. The latter is conducted via small teams of doctors (Psychologists, Psychiatrists/Neurologists, Mental Health Specialists, etc.) who assess and treat individuals presenting with a variety of mental illnesses.

Q: What was your favorite Wooster experience?

A: Gosh, favorite Wooster experience…I don’t think there is only one! Here’s the answer that’s approved for all audiences: For a kid that came from Los Angeles, I thoroughly enjoyed my four years at Wooster and I wouldn’t change anything. I loved being able to have dinner over at a professor’s house or go out and have a beer and listen to music (at what was then a place called Seattles) with a few professors.

Q: What advice do you have for current Psychology students?

A: My advice for current psych students is really simple: Use your I.S. as a serious tool to progress your future academic (and even professional) goals. That’s of course if you want to continue in Psychology. If you want to go on into the field, you are sitting on huge advantage- a gold mine- that if taken seriously you will likely stand out in what is an extremely competitive market. You’ll have research skills that most applicants only learn after undergrad through an internship experience. But of course, everyone is different and sometimes the journey- the ups and downs, the “oopsie”- is necessary to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve!

Brandon’s IS was titled “An Analysis of Factors Used to Increase the Utilization of Mental Health Care-Services” and was advised by Dr. Gary Gillund.

Thank you, Brandon!