Meet the Student Group Leaders: Lydia Woods!

October 30, 2017


Where are you from?

I grew up outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I moved to New York over 10 years ago to pursue a BFA at NYU. My life was in New York for a while and then I moved to Los Angeles, and then I came back to the city. Coming back to New York I wanted something different to take my education further and John Jay seemed like the perfect fit.


What do you like/hate about living in NYC?

I always call it the Trash Town. I think it’s very hard to live here, what with the daily life, expenses, commuting, and being constantly surrounded by people. But the energy of the city keeps me here, and being able to get Thai food at midnight if I’m craving it. The opportunities in New York for forensic psychology and counseling are extremely prevalent, and a lot of people need help here. You can cast a wider net and reach more people in a city like this.


What year are you?

I’m in my second year.


Are you in the FP program or the FMHC program?

Technically, I’m in the forensic psych program, but I’m still torn about my direction. I would like to become licensed and eventually get a PsyD, but I would also like to get some work experience in the field before heading back for my third degree.


What made you choose one program over another?

The reason I am thinking about switching into FMHC is because it's a formal qualification that enables you to work toward that credential of getting licensed. I’m still debating.


Why John Jay?

It has a reputation. It's the school to go to for anything related to forensics or criminal justice. People from all backgrounds suggested it to me and I think the school holds up to its reputation because of the faculty and classes.


What extracurricular activities are you involved in at John Jay?

I am one of the heads of FCSG (the Forensic Counseling Student Group). I have a TA position. I’m the SONA coordinator. I also try to attend panels and events. I would like to one day go to the community hour yoga class, and I love the graduate community social hours.


For the positions you hold, how did you get involved in these things?

For FCSG, the group leaders from last year thought that Laura Cheatham and I were qualified to take over and offered us the positons. I just stumbled upon the group originally, looking to meet people. For my TA positon, I publicized those positons through my previous job as a College Assistant for Kelisha Layne, so I learned about those opportunities and took advantage. SONA is the research experience program here that coordinates the research of faculty and students (undergrad, master’s and doctoral) with undergraduate participants, and that was a position that I heard about and applied for.  


What are your ultimate career goals?

I want to get a PsyD, have a family and perhaps teach at art schools, helping actors understand and portray mental illnesses accurately. I also hope to work as a licensed therapist and clinical psychologist.


What is a something about you that is surprising?

I’ve worked internationally as an actor on stage, film, and TV.


Are you a dog person or a cat person?  

Dog all the way. I grew up with a dog and she was like my older sister. One day I would like to have a dog, but not in NY when you’re gone all day.


What’s your next step after you graduate?

I hope to work with juveniles and those with disabilities.  I’d like to help rehabilitate, assisting with the transition from incarceration back into society. I’d consider case management or developing programs for rehabilitation and crime prevention, and I’ll also possibly pursue my license with a limited permit.


What are your favorite/least favorite things about John Jay?

I like hearing and learning from my fellow classmates who are all researching different topics, externing at diverse facilities, and have various goals. I’m getting exposed to experiences and opportunities that I didn’t even know existed. I sometimes feel like there is a lack of community due to how busy everyone is, which is why I think FCSG is so important so that people can stay connected.


What is your favorite class that you’ve taken or experience that you’ve had?

I loved Dr. Schramm’s summer intensive PSY 795 course, Intro to Assessment, where we were exposed to different assessment measures and tests. We were lucky enough that Dr. Schramm coordinated a visit to the Westchester County Jail and could see firsthand how things operate and visualize how we could fit into that picture.


What advice would you offer to new students in the program?

Stay ahead of your reading. Prioritize what’s truly important day by day, both personally and academically. Take care of yourself and ask for help if you need it. Make friends! (Join FCSG)

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