Alumni Spotlight

Alexandria Intorcio

Alexandra IntorcioNow a research and evaluation assistant in Miami University’s Center for School-based Mental Health Programs, Alexandria Intorcio graduated from Miami in 2010 with a B.A. in Psychology. Her experiences have ranged from lab research in psychophysiology to a Master’s degree in political psychology and from working on mental health grants to studying consumer psychology with Procter & Gamble.

“Really the amount of options a psychology major has are limitless,” Intorcio explained. “You just have to be creative.

“I know people who have gone into completely different fields. You can go to law school, you can go to medical school, you can work with kids, you can work with adults, you can do therapy, you can do counseling, you can do hard science in a lab all day, or some combination thereof….”

This was precisely the reason that Intorcio chose to pursue psychology as an undergraduate. Encouraged by her high school teacher to try a college level psych course, she found one that fit easily into her Miami Plan.
“I sat down on the first day thinking this was going to be Freud and all of these things that psychology is so stereotypically known for,” joked Intorcio. “And [the professor] opened my eyes to the fact that there are people who think about thinking, and that just blew my mind.”

Intorcio soon changed her major and began taking a wide variety of psychology classes. She enjoyed the versatility, explaining, “You can go from experimenting with mice and rats to working with humans to implementing social change. After I realized the lack of limits of the field, I was definitely in it for the long haul.”

The professors who spoke at Intorcio’s orientation encouraged students to visit them for advice, to ask questions, and just to chat.

“That’s something that I can’t emphasize enough with undergrad,” Intorcio advised, as she discussed visiting office hours, “The professors are there to help you…The more work you do for them and the better your evaluations are the happier they are. But, they also want to make sure that you are actually getting something from that at the end of the day.”

Intorcio began to frequent her professors’ office hours and got to know as many psychology staff and students as she could—from her kind and dedicated “Psych Moms” in the front office to her longtime mentor Dr. Peter Wessels. Many of whom, Intorcio was glad to report, she still maintains a close relationship with as a staff member today.

“They are so willing to take the extra step and go out of their way,” she explained gratefully. “One professor took me from the first day of Psychology 111 to my current job as an alumni and a staff member with the Psychology Department—and continues to work with me today.”

This professor, Dr. Wessels, recommended that Intorcio take part in undergraduate research. As a sophomore, she began to work in the Center for Human Psychophysiology, creating a training program and technology to map brain waves, something no one in the department had done before.

She continued to pursue every research and networking opportunity that she could. In her last year on campus, Intorcio participated in the senior honors thesis program.

“It was a very tight cohort of very motivated students who all banded together to not only support each other, but to challenge each other and make ourselves better as the process unfolded,” said Intorcio.

She attributes her current success to her hard work as an undergrad. This helped her to earn a post-baccalaureate fellowship with Procter & Gamble and Miami University.

Following this experience, Intorcio chose to pursue her interest in the up-and-coming field of political psychology through a Master’s program at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Though she had only taken one political science class in her undergraduate career, her liberal arts education made her feel confident and comfortable delving into a different aspect of her field. She was able to incorporate this social cognitive background into her Master’s thesis on how race impacts policy decisions.
Following her graduation, Intorcio had the opportunity to continue working with policy in a whole new capacity. Encouraged by her strong connections, she chose to return to Miami University and began working as a Research and Evaluation Assistant with the Center for School-Based Mental Health Programs.

There she researches and evaluates federal and state grants, particularly those impacting Butler County. The center reaches out to non-profits to ensure the fidelity and efficiency of, and sometimes help to implement, their mental health intervention programs.
Intorcio felt prepared for this shift in focus, “Even though I didn’t take many of the classes in our psych major that require personality, abnormal, and clinical psych, my training as a psychologist led me to be able to form decisions and use the scientific process.” She feels that the diverse experiences her liberal arts background enabled her to pursue, has given her a unique perspective that benefits her in the workplace.

Intorcio also leads the five to ten undergraduates who work with the center annually. “I was involved in labs all throughout my undergrad, and I feel the need to give that back.”

In one of her most memorable projects, Intorcio assisted the YWCA in Hamilton with their Teen Pregnancy Prevention Needs Assessment Survey. This was distributed to teachers, medical professionals, youth service providers, teens and parents to determine community attitudes regarding the impact and outcomes of teen pregnancy. She also helped the non-profit to create a social media based prevention program.

She also had the opportunity to work with Butler County non-profit Life Span and their school-based support workers, Greene County’s “Safe Schools, Healthy Students” mental health project, and the state’s “Project AWARE,” a mental health training program which organizers hope will one day be as prevalent as CPR.

“I love the job that I do there,” Intorcio explained animatedly. “We see real change. We work with community partners, which is something that is so unique in the department. And it’s immensely rewarding.”
  • Psychology Building
    Psychology Building

    Department of Psychology

    The Department of Psychology blends a foundation in the major areas of psychology with other disciplines in the liberal arts to give you a broad range of skills, knowledge, and experiences. In our department, there are many opportunities to get involved with research, teaching, and community service. Both a BA and PhD are offered.

    90 North Patterson Avenue
    Oxford, OH 45056
    513-529-2400
    513-529-2420 (fax)
    psychology@MiamiOH.edu

    Joe Johnson, Chair