Alumna to deliver keynote at April 23rd URC
As a ballerina with the Albany Berkshire Ballet, Alicia Girgenti ’07 never thought she would go to college. But at age 21 she did just that, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in criminology. Now, college is her career: she’s an assistant professor at Merrimack College in North Andover, where she teaches courses in “Research Methods and Statistics in Criminology” and the “Death Penalty.”
On April 23, Girgenti (right) will return to MCLA to deliver the keynote address at this year’s Undergraduate Research Conference (URC).
Born and raised in nearby Adams, Girgenti heard good things about MCLA. She began taking classes in fall 2002.
“I immediately fell in love with the discipline and the faculty in the psychology department. I loved being in small classes where faculty knew my name, took time to get to know me and my goals, and provided opportunities for me to achieve those goals,” she said.
Back at MCLA to speak at the URC, Girgenti will discuss her research and talk to students about her experiences at the College, and how they contributed to her career trajectory. She also will encourage them to find their passion, and pursue it.
Girgenti is passionate about social justice issues related to the equality and treatment of all individuals in society.
“This passion developed during my time as an undergraduate at MCLA and continued to grow through my graduate education at Northeastern University,” she said. “I was driven to make a difference wherever I could. Through my teaching and scholarship, I wanted to be a voice for those who are silenced by intolerance and discrimination in our society, and advocate for the equal rights of all under the law.”
Like the students who will present their work at this year’s conference, Girgenti also participated in the URC.
“I conducted computer-based survey research with a fellow psychology classmate under the supervision of Dr. Maria Bartini titled, “College Student’s Attitudes toward Capital Punishment,” Girgenti explained. “This experience was my first introduction to conference presentations.”
According to Girgenti, “Not only did MCLA offer classes that provided the foundation for my coursework in graduate school, the psychology department offered many learning opportunities outside of the classroom.”
At MCLA, Girgenti’s activities included serving as a teaching assistant and a research assistant. Her work in the lab led her to present research at the Berkshire Association of Behavioral Analysis and Therapy (BABAT) Conference at UMASS-Amherst.
In addition to writing her senior thesis on “Racial Differences in Support and Opposition of Capital Punishment,” she participated in the Eastern Psychological Association Conference in Philadelphia, Pa., where she presented her findings.
“The completion of this senior thesis is what inspired my current work on race, gender and capital punishment,” Girgenti said.
“As a graduate student and professor, you are encouraged to participate in research conferences each year as part of your professional development and publication prospects. Participating in research conferences as an undergraduate helped prepare me for similar expectations in graduate school and in my career.”
She hopes the undergraduates will ignore possible criticism and overcome any self-doubt they may have as they explore the academic pursuits that inspire them.
“Your path may change but keep moving forward. You have the ability to change your life and impact the lives of others. Surround yourself with people who support you and challenge you to be a better human being. However, you must find the motivation and drive from within. Your future belongs to you.”