Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Arielle F. Hall

HallName: Arielle Freshman Hall

Occupation: Clinical Psychologist

Education (UR and additional): UR 2002-2006 (BA), Yeshiva University 2007-2013 (MA, PsyD)

Current city/state/country of residence: Newton, MA

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

My parents attended University of Rochester and when they took me to visit the campus while I was in high school, I knew it was the school for me. I loved the campus, the atmosphere, and the quality of education the school offers. I was very confident that UR would be just the right college experience for me overall, and it certainly was!

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

I decided on my major after my first year but I didn’t formally declare it until the majority of students do so. I wanted to take as much time as possible to make sure I was making the right decision! I chose Brain and Cognitive Sciences because it offered a unique blend of my interests in medicine and social sciences. I really enjoyed the introductory courses and so I just kept signing up for more of them.

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

After graduation, I spent one year working as a research assistant within the URMC Neurology Dept. I was supervised by a neurologist and clinical neuropsychologist and my responsibilities included administering neuropsychological tests to Parkinson’s Disease patients. This work would eventually lead to a publication. I used this year as a bridge between undergraduate and graduate study as I knew at this point that I wanted to go on to get a doctorate in clinical psychology. This year would serve to give me some very important practical experience before going back to school. How did I know to take this path? I asked the professor of my favorite BCS class, “How do I get to where you are?” and he helped me define a pathway that would work for me.

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

Right now, I am starting my post-doctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology. This is a rigorous 2 year program following graduate school in which you get specialized on the job training. After this time, I will be a fully licensed independent psychologist. I chose this career primarily because it matches perfectly with my academic interests. Also, in the real world, it gives me a lot of flexibility to operate in different ways within my field. For example, I can do therapy, cognitive testing, teaching, etc. In addition, I can choose whatever patient population I want and not be locked into one group.

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

In going into clinical psychology, all of the neurobiology I picked up from BCS have been immensely useful. We had to take similar classes in my first year of graduate school and while many people had to learn the material from scratch, those classes were a review for me. Majoring in BCS also really helped me to hone my study skills. Because BCS as a subject area is so diverse, I had to essentially learn how to learn material from each class because some courses were very concept heavy while others required a lot of rote repetition and memorization. Having these different learning techniques in my arsenal was crucial for me after I graduated. 

What is your fondest memory of the University?

My fondest memory by far is meeting and becoming close with a group of friends that I still talk to regularly. A college experience is a collection of many things and for me, my friends were a huge part of my experience. We had an amazing 4 years with each other and throughout that time, we helped each other grow as people and professionals. Some may say that this could happen at any university, but I feel very lucky to have met my girls at UR. 

What advice do you have for current students?

I think the best thing anyone can do for him/herself is to pursue the course of study and career that you feel very confident that you’ll truly love. We all spend most of our time working and if you’re working within a field that you don’t truly enjoy, each day is going to seem very long and arduous. Every course of study and subsequent career fields/jobs will have ups and downs, so I think a student’s goal is to weigh the pros and cons and go after the one that offers the most rewarding scenario for you.