Professor Psychology, Pleasantville
What is the central theme of your book?
The scope of this research focuses on a sample of undergraduate university students who attended the Westchester campuses of Pace University in New York in order to determine the relative significance of ethnicity in the educational and professional options perceived by Italian-American vs. non-Italian-American respondents. Their family traditions were examined, and patterns of behavior impacting choices of pre-professional vs. non-pre-professional employment were identified.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to conduct the research and write the book based on my Italian-American culture. It was also a result of the students with whom I had encountered at Pace University who were similar to my own background, especially as it related to the traditional values that impacted their lives.
Why is this book important in your field? What does it contribute to the current body of knowledge on its topic?
The primary audience would be individuals specifically interested in ethnic studies, specifically those relating to European Americans. In addition, it would appeal to colleges and universities offering cultural studies programs as well as institutes focusing on Italian-Americans.
The scope of this research focuses on a sample of undergraduate university students who attended the Westchester campuses of Pace University in New York in order to determine the relative significance of ethnicity in the educational and professional options perceived by Italian-American vs. non-Italian-American respondents. Their family traditions were examined, and patterns of behavior impacting choices of pre-professional vs. non-pre-professional employment were identified. Additionally, this research was conducted to fulfill the dissertation requirements for my doctorate at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School and University Center. I have continued to track the original cohort of the 61 case studies as part of a longitudinal study in the areas of professional accomplishments, educational advancement, and community involvement for a period of almost twenty (20) years. The original case studies have been updated to reflect my ongoing level of interaction and related findings.
To collect data concerning their education, employment, family background and influence, and other social relationships, a questionnaire of 74 questions was developed and distributed to 1,500 undergraduates. This data was collected between the years of 1990 to 1995. Responding were 898 students, including 348 men, 538 women, and 12 not indicating gender. There were 365 Italian-American respondents, and 533 non-Italian-American respondents.
Italian-American respondents were classified as more traditional, mid-range traditional, and less traditional, based on their responses. In terms of their educational and professional options, the very traditional Italian-Americans behaved in certain limiting patterns. For example, the very traditional students tended not to participate in pre-professional experiences, thereby limiting future professional opportunities, in contrast to their less traditional Italian-American counterparts. Instead, they tended to participate in non-pre-professional experiences, including family businesses.
To further support the quantitative analogies, 61 case studies, consisting of individual respondents, were conducted. Four of these case studies were included in the initial research and have since been updated. The result of this research underscores the existing need to develop specialized counseling and mentoring strategies that will enable the more traditional Italian-American students at the University to fully develop their potential both academically and professionally.
Tell me about a particularly special moment in writing this book.
The personal interviews that I originally conducted with students (now alumni) continue to represent a special time for me as I maintain an ongoing relationship with them more than 20 years later.
What is the one thing you hope readers take away from your book?
The rich heritage of Italians-Americans and its relationship to academic and professional success.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your book?
I dedicated the book to my parents and siblings all of whom have been supportive every step of the way. I was motivated to complete the book as a result of the untimely passing of my two older siblings, Suzanne and Carmine, whose love of our culture was contagious.
When did you join Dyson?
I began at Pace University on December 16, 1987 and joined Dyson College shortly thereafter (first as an adjunct professor and then a full-time professor).
What motivates you as a teacher?
My graduate and doctoral students continually motivate me because of their enthusiasm, commitment and dedication to the professional of mental health counseling. In particular, those who I teach in my Practicum and Internship courses show an extraordinary level of perseverance as they gain professional experience with clients, while completing the requirement for 700-hours of field experience.
What do you do in your spare time; to relax/unwind?
Reading, dancing, wave running, and relaxing on the beach.
What are you reading right now?
Rollo May’s, "Man’s Search for Himself" (for academic and clinical interest) & any John Grisham novel (for personal interest)