Psychology alumna shares work and advice with students

May 4, 2012

By Steven Johnson ‘13

Marta Pelaez ’83, who earned a psychology degree and now runs a shelter for abused women and children, recently returned to campus to speak to students in the department about issues surrounding domestic violence and careers choices offered by a degree in psychology.

“It was a very informal exchange with the students,” said Pelaez, who is originally from Bogota, Colombia, and now lives in Texas. “I think the most relevant thing I offered the students was the possible avenues where they can practice psychology.”

Pelaez is the president and CEO of the San Antonio-based Family Violence Prevention Services, where she has worked since 1999. The agency provides residential services such as an emergency shelter for battered women and children and non-residential services like parenting education. FVPS is recognized as a national model in the treatment and prevention of domestic violence.

“The Psychology Department is thrilled to host Marta's visit to Bradley,” said Dr. Derek Montgomery, psychology department chair and professor. “She is a tireless advocate for the vulnerable in our society and her efforts have had a genuine, positive impact on people's lives. Her story is an inspiration for our students and we are happy she is here to share it in person.”

As head of the agency, Pelaez has participated in Senate hearings on domestic violence and has made numerous appearances in national media outlets. She has also spoken internationally on the topic of domestic violence and, during her visit, sought to give Bradley students a broader view of potential career paths with their psychology degrees.

“We also talked about human resources, where I feel, traditionally, it did not include psychology majors,” Pelaez said, “but the knowledge acquired in psychology is very fitting to the human resources capacity.”

Pelaez was excited to return to the Hilltop and said she was impressed by all the changes to campus.

“For me this is memory lane,” she said. “As a student of Bradley, I should have been here before, but this is like 30 years later. This is wonderful for me. I feel like a student again.”