Alumni Profile: Alison Casey ’19

Alumni Profile: Alison Casey ’19
Degree(s): BS Psychology and History, UW–Madison
Current Occupation: AmeriCorps VISTA – Behavioral Health focused

What are some of the benefits of your psychology degree?
The biggest benefit of my psychology degree is having a better understanding of human behavior and therefore being able to approach people with empathy instead of judgment. Psychology is relevant to every aspect of life because we are constantly interacting with other people. Studying psychology gave me a better understanding of why people are the way they are, and that has allowed me to engage with people empathetically opposed to judgmentally. Before making assumptions about people, I do my best to listen openly and to remember there is always more to a person that we see on the surface. My psychology degree benefited me most in this way, and I believe this is relevant to all lines of work and in all parts of life.

How did you find your way to your current profession?
I am currently an AmeriCorps VISTA, serving in South Carolina. In my position, I help increase access to behavioral health care for veterans in Upstate South Carolina. My journey to getting to this position was very unplanned. While I was in college, I planned out my class schedules, research, and extracurriculars so I would be set up to successfully enter into a Clinical Psychology PhD program after graduation. However, my senior year of college I realized I needed more time to explore my interests before making the large investment of graduate school. This realization was difficult for me, because I no longer knew what I wanted to do with my life after undergrad. After graduation, I applied to numerous research-type jobs, such as market research positions. However, many of those positions I applied for were with large companies, and each time I pictured myself working for those companies, I kept having doubts that my work would not make a tangible difference in the world. I eventually came to the conclusion that I needed to be in a career/position that would allow me to use my talents and abilities to impact the lives of people around me. Therefore, I decided to apply to AmeriCorps. There are AmeriCorps programs across the United States that help in every area of interest you can imagine, such as mental health, environmental, education, and more. I found an AmeriCorps placement in South Carolina that would allow me to help increase the access to behavioral health care for veterans, and I knew immediately that is where I wanted to begin my career. I am in my second year of AmeriCorps and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity. It has allowed me to work in the real world, gain experience, and has further guided me to the path of what I am meant to do in life. Because of my time with AmeriCorps, I realized that mental health policy and law is where I want to make a difference, and I plan on attending law school this coming fall.

What advice would you give to students graduating with a psychology degree?
Gain real world experience and explore what areas of psychology matter to you. You learn so much useful information in the classroom, but give yourself the chance to apply that information to real life. You will be amazed at how relevant psychology is to every career sector and area of life. Talk to as many people as possible about their career and what they actually do day-to-day. Then, go out and try those careers/positions for yourself! My biggest piece of advice is to go into the workforce with an open mind and allow yourself to be flexible. You never know where your interests and experiences will lead you!

If interested, please list an identity or group membership of which you are particularly proud:
Psi Chi honor society, Phi Beta Kappa