Taylor Pestritto ‘17, MA

Taylor PestrittoUndergraduate Degree:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Minor in Sociology
Criminal Justice Certificate

Current Position Title and Affiliation:
3rd year PsyD student at William James College

Summary of Position:
Clinical psychology is a field that encompasses a broad range of behavioral health services, which may include the assessment and intervention of individuals and families, consultation with healthcare professionals, or teaching and research. I have chosen to focus my studies in Geropsychology, which is a specialty in professional psychology centralized on working with older adults and their families. As such, I am a current practicum student at a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). As a behavioral health intern, I have been able to do individual therapy with patients suffering from mental and physical illness, co-lead a chronic pain group, conduct neuropsychological assessments, and consult with the interdisciplinary team. In addition to my coursework at William James, I am working on a research study that examines the impact of media consumption during COVID-19, particularly how constructs such as ageism and adultism are perpetuated by the media.

What do you love most about this career path?
Clinical psychology is so unique in that it is a field with extreme depth and breadth. I love that as a student, I have been able to obtain diverse clinical experiences, such as placements with adolescents in a residential setting, older adults in a medical clinic, and adults in a community health center. I have always strived to have a career that would not leave me complacent; as a clinical psychologist, there are endless career paths and I know that I will have the opportunity to wear many hats and truly be a life-long learner. I plan to teach, conduct research, and do clinical work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, primary care, and nursing homes. Due to the rapidly growing aging population, opportunities as a Geropsychologist are truly limitless! I love that I will be able to create a rewarding career with such an underserved and oftentimes invisible population.

How did UMass and/or Psychological and Brain Sciences help prepare you?
The opportunities I was able to take advantage of at UMass played a significant role in ensuring that I was a competitive applicant for a graduate program. At UMass, I was an undergraduate teaching assistant as well as a research assistant. As an RA in a social psychology lab, I presented a poster at the PBS Undergraduate Symposium entitled “Not So Subtle: The Interpersonal Consequences of Subtle Sexism and Stereotype Threat.” Lastly, I participated in the Boltwood project, where I had the opportunity to volunteer at a long-term care facility for older adults. This was a wonderful sub-clinical experience where I was able to dip my toe in the clinical world and genuinely gain interest in the geriatric population.

Tips for Current Undergrads:
My best advice is to seek as many opportunities as you can; put yourself out there and don’t be afraid of failure or rejection (I stumbled into an RA position by helping a graduate student carry papers to her office in Tobin Hall)!

If you are looking into a graduate program, do your research! Talk to faculty, current students, and alumni. A doctoral program is an immense commitment and challenge, so make sure that whatever program you pursue aligns with your goals and passions.

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire” – Jennifer Lee