Getting through a Transportation Security Agency (TSA) check point is no laughing matter. Nor should it be a crying one, unless you just learned that you’ve just been accepted to your dream university. After flying to Hawaii to visit Chaminade University, Jodie Gerson ’23 was en route home to Las Vegas when she was notified that she was accepted into the Doctor of Psychology Program in Clinical Psychology at Chaminade’s Hawai‘i School of Professional Psychology.
“I got up to the TSA agent and he asked if I was OK,” Gerson laughed. “I told him I was crying out of joy because I just received a call about my acceptance into Chaminade.”
Gerson, who had already held a master’s in Clinical Psychology and another master’s of science in Marriage, Family and Child Therapy, was already an accomplished professional, holding such management roles as Clinical Program Manager with the Nevada Youth Parole Bureau, Director at WestCare, Nevada, and Director of Performance Improvement and Risk Management with Spring Mountain Treatment Center and Spring Mountain Sahara Hospital.
“My wife, Chris, told me that I had met all my goals, except one, which was to apply to doctoral programs,” said Gerson, who is completing her internship with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia this July. “I had several offers across the board, but Chaminade really appealed to me so I flew out to visit.”
Once on campus, Gerson said the setting was perfect, and she knew immediately that Chaminade was the right fit. Not only did it offer a doctoral program that she liked, but the university checked off another one of her boxes: cultural diversity.
“Oh my gosh, I thought to myself,” Gerson recalled. “This is THE one. After I did my interview, I took a tour of the campus, and it just felt right. I had to get in.”
Her interview was on a Tuesday and by Friday she received the call from the admissions team. Informed of her next steps in order to reserve her spot, Gerson immediately called Chris, and asked if she could send a deposit since she would be in the air.
“I didn’t even have a chance to tell Chris that I was accepted, and now I was asking her to send money to Chaminade,” Gerson smiled. “Even though they gave me a few extra days to complete the necessary steps, I didn’t want to take a chance of losing my spot. There was no way I was letting this opportunity slip by.”
A Certified Expert Trauma Professional who has worked in the field for more than 25 years, Gerson said she was still challenged by the doctoral program, which helped her gain a deeper analysis and understanding of clinical psychology. She also formed strong bonds with her fellow doctoral candidates.
“She has an incredible resume, and has been on multiple boards, including HPA (Hawai‘i Psychological Association) and APA (American Psychological Association),” said Dr. Sean Scanlan, Clinical Psychology Director with the School of Education and Behavioral Sciences. “Her work experience, with adults, adolescents and children, includes assistance and intervention with the homeless, individuals with mental illness, minors in foster care, forensics, youth parole and persons with HIV/AIDS.”
When Gerson returns from Washington, D.C. in July, she will begin a new job with the Department of Health Family Court Liaison Branch at the Hawai‘i Youth Correctional Facility and Detention Home, where she will advocate for teens, and assess risk, needs and protective factors in our youth populations.
She will also continue her studies, seeking to attain her Board certification by taking the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards’ Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), a rigorous process that could take as long as her PsyD program.
“Service to the community is one of the values that Chaminade upholds, and it’s one that I strongly believe in as well,” Gerson said “It has been a great experience, and I have no regrets.”