Psychology Alumni Celebrate Department’s Past, Future

Participants in the psychology alumni discussion panel include, (L-R), Dr. Amanda Vicary; Christopher Muniz; Kathleen Graffam; Dr. Timothy Koeltzow, moderator; Dr. Michael Rezak; Marta Peláez; and Judge Joe Billy McDade.

October 31, 2013

By Emily Pagoria ‘14 

Bradley University’s Psychology Department celebrated its 65th anniversary with a Homecoming week alumni panel discussion.  Six alumni shared lighthearted memories from their college years and offered wisdom for today’s students. 

For U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade ’59, the degree taught him to empathize with people in the courtroom.

“It’s human nature for people to want you to understand the pain they have experienced,” he said. “Being a psychology major helped me to better understand people.”

Marta Peláez ’83 said she daily used her degree to effectively provide services and interventions for victims of domestic abuse. Peláez is President and CEO of San Antonio-based Family Violence Prevention Services. 

The psychology background also was valuable for Kathleen Graffam ’70 MA ’72, retired vice-president of JP Morgan Chase. In that setting, “the basic analytic skills and variables I learned from my degree definitely helped me advance my career at JP Morgan Chase.” 

For other alumni, the degree proved to be a stepping-stone to future learning.

“Getting a psychology degree gave me the confidence to master subjects I previously thought beyond me,” said Dr. Michael Rezak MA, ’72.

Chicago attorney Christopher Muniz ’96 and Illinois Wesleyan University professor Dr. Amanda Vicary ’04 agreed and both remarked how practicum and research experiences can prepare a student to effectively apply their knowledge to situations outside of the classroom.

Muniz said an influential research experience he had while at Bradley was working at a day care center handling young children. 

“It was a neat experience to see 3- and 4-year olds interact, and it was an enormous stress reliever,” he noted. 

Vicary said the independent research project she completed at Bradley was an important learning experience. 

“It set the stage for what I’d be doing the rest of my life,” she said. 

Bradley’s Psychology Department now boasts 11 faculty and more than 200 majors.  In recent years the department has won national awards for research and service from the American Psychological Association and from Psi Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology.