Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Sarah Lazer-Gomez

lazerName: Sarah Lazer-Gomez

Occupation: Psychologist, New York City Police Department

Education (UR and additional): Undergraduate – University of Rochester (’07): Major, Brain & Cognitive Science, Minor; Psychology and American Sign Language
Graduate School – Long Island University, C.W. Post; Clinical Psychology, Psy.D.

Current city/state/country of residence: New York, NY

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I chose to attend the University of Rochester because it had the feel of a smaller campus with a close-knit community. I also liked the idea of having to take clusters in various academic areas rather than having specific course requirements.

When and how did you choose your major(s)?

I chose my major after my first semester. I took the introductory Brain and Cognitive Science class and really enjoyed it, so I decided to make it my major. I originally thought I might want to be a biology major, but I realized that BCS combined two of my interests; psychology and biology. 

What did you do immediately after graduation?  How did you decide to take this path?

After graduation, I spent the summer living in Rochester. In September, I went to graduate school to get my Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology. This was not an easy decision, but after attending a career fair at U of R I realized that I was always leaning toward a career in social service. I had done research in a Neuroscience lab at the University of Rochester, and while it was fascinating work, I did not think that being a researcher was the right career for me. I was looking for a hands-on experience and training in conducting therapy with patients with a range of mental disorders, and I felt the best way to do this was get my Psy.D.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am currently employed as a psychologist for the New York City Police Department. I conduct psychological evaluations on candidates who want to be police officers, and other various positions within the department. I chose this job after I completed my doctoral internship year because I was interested in the forensic aspect of Clinical Psychology.

What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?

I use knowledge that I learned in BCS classes on a daily basis. On example is the biology of certain mental disorders and how they are treated with various psychotropic medications. This knowledge came in very handy while working on a psychiatric inpatient unit at Jacobi Hospital during my internship year, where most patients require medications. In addition, I recently had to take the Examination for the Professional Practice of Psychology (EPPP), in order to get my license. There were several questions on this test that went right back to my introductory BCS courses! 

Where would you like to be in five years?

In five years I hope to be seeing patients privately, and hopefully be affiliated with a hospital either doing evaluations or treatment part-time.

What is your fondest memory of the University?

The way campus looks in the fall, and being in a place where everyone is exciting about learning.