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Alexandra Hackney, EdS '21 
Educational Specialist in School Psychology


July 29, 2021
NYC school psychologist and PCOM EdS grad Alexandra Hackney, EdSWhat inspired you to pursue a career in school psychology?

From a young age, as early as elementary school, I knew I wanted to do something that involved psychology. When I was eight, I was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease called Juvenile Dermatomyositis. It turned my world upside down and occupied a huge part of my life until I was 21. I was very lucky to have a supportive and loving family to help combat all those stressors.

Through my undergraduate honors studies in both psychology and biology at Rosemont College, I was able to better understand how this trauma in my childhood impacted who I am as an adult and how resilient it made me. I also discovered a passion for neuroscience and cognitive psychology. I knew I wanted to take my professional career in that direction. School psychology was the perfect combination of both of these. I find psychoeducational testing so fascinating and every referral is a new chance to discover how an individual’s brain learns and what their strengths and weaknesses are. I also have the privilege of assisting and giving young adults the tools to succeed and overcome various academic, behavioral and social/emotional difficulties. 

Why did you choose PCOM for your graduate education?

I chose PCOM for my graduate education because it is accredited by the National Association of School Psychology (NASP) and also for its experienced and renowned professors. I was fortunate to learn from two school psychologists who each won the NASP School Psychologist of the Year Award as well as George McCloskey, PhD, co-director of research and professor, school psychology, whose reputation in research and test development is well known. I also resonated with PCOM’s whole-person approach with my background in psychology and biology. Not only is bodily health important but mental well-being is often underestimated but nonetheless crucial. 

Were there any faculty or staff members that were influential during your time at PCOM? 

I had a handful of inspiring professors who were influential and helped me attain my goals. Richard Allen, PsyD, director and professor, EdS program; Theresa Erbacher, PhD; Meghan Garrett, PsyD; Lauren Webb, PsyD; John Lestino, MA, LPC, and also my internship supervisor Deborah Cantu-Hertzler, PsyD, all helped me at different points on my road to becoming a school psychologist.

What accomplishment are you most proud of during your life or your time at PCOM?

I think my biggest accomplishment is attaining the goal I set for myself four years ago which was to become a skillful school psychologist and to work in New York City. I am now living in an apartment in NYC with my boyfriend of five years and starting my career at my dream school! I also worked hard this past year to obtain the hours to sit for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) exam. I hope to take the exam in December to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst.

Another huge goal I accomplished this past year was successfully running two half-marathons, one in the hills of New Hampshire. Right now I am in an intensive training program to run the New York City Marathon this coming November. It’s so important to me to have big, seemingly unattainable goals, that will push myself to grow as a person.

What impact do you hope to have after graduation and what career will you pursue?

My hope in my career is that I make a lasting impact on as many of my scholars as possible. I plan on doing this through numerous ways like providing effective interventions, building rapport with my scholars, and consulting with staff and families that work directly with the scholar. I also want to be a beacon of optimism and help others achieve their happiest and most successful version of themselves.

What advice would you give to a student that is starting their journey now?

The advice that I would give a student starting their journey in school psychology is to not be afraid to make mistakes and to ask a lot of questions. School psychology is a huge field and you’ll never run out of new material to learn.

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