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Grad uses psychology degree to help students

04/15/15

C:\fakepath\Christopher Tate crop.jpgAlthough Christopher Tate ’14 of Belchertown, Mass., started out as a history major, his growing interest in psychology two years into his college education led him to make the switch. Despite his late start in a new program, with help from his professors, he graduated on schedule.

“Once I realized psychology is what I am most interested in, my ideas about what I wanted to do changed dramatically,” Tate said. “Now I’m in CSSE, using my degree every day.”

As a program specialist in MCLA’s Center for Student Success and Engagement (CSSE), Tate primarily works with the campus’s Disability Services as he coordinates and facilitates accommodated testing for students with disabilities.

“I help students by providing them with or referring them to the appropriate services to help them succeed, whether that is offering a more comfortable and relaxed area to test in, providing a note taker in their courses, or pointing them toward a tutor,” Tate explained.

As an alumnus of MCLA, “I understand where students are coming from. Because I just graduated, my point of view is a resource. I encourage students to take advantage of the resources in CSSE,” Tate said.

“We truly do care about student issues in academics, and want to see each and every student succeed. Sometimes the path to graduation is not clear, and we try and make it more so, and provide any help we can along the way,” he added.

Tate’s recent academic experience and the skills he learned through various extracurricular activities on campus helped to prepare him for his work in CSSE.

“Greek life, being co-coordinator of ‘The Write Stuff,’ and leadership positions in various clubs helped me with time management, goal setting, communication and program coordination skills,” Tate said. “These are skills that I use every day I set foot in my office, and skills that I share with the students with whom I work.”

His responsibilities include offering workshops and informational sessions about issues that relate to learning differences and the American Disabilities Act (ADA). Recently, he presented an inaugural event for CSSE’s seminar series on brain injuries, and how they affect life in and out of the classroom.

“Similarly, I also will develop workshops and informational sessions on study skills, resources, and success strategies for students during the fall semester,” Tate said.

“The most rewarding part of my job is when students get what they need – plain and simple,” he added. “Sometimes it's hard to realize when one needs and should ask for help, and that’s a stigma we’re trying to break down.”

Given his initial intention to become a history teacher when he arrived at MCLA, Tate is surprised that he ended up working for the College. His colleagues, many of whom provide him with "amazing" inspiration, are a highlight of his position.

“This is a wonderful learning environment that has made great things happen in the short time I've been in this community, and I'm excited to be a part of this process moving forward,” Tate said.