Kendall Harford

MA in Psychology

"I look forward to asking questions and learning how to do the research to get them answered. I have so many ideas running around in my head, and knowing that I will one day have the educational background to be able to put them into practice is really exciting."


How does your current work relate to the field of psychology? What is the most gratifying aspect of your job? What is the most difficult aspect?

I am so lucky that I get to use psychology every day in my work. Everyone actually gets to use some aspects of psychology every day, like through cognitive decision-making, but they might not actually know it. With me knowing it, it makes life a little more exciting. I work with students who have been through a lot. Life has just thrown them for a loop and they are doing the best they know how to handle it all. We say “There are no bad kids, just bad things to whom things have happened.” We try to educate and rehabilitate while diagnosing and placing them into the community. Home isn’t working. They are not being taken care of, they are not going to school, or if they are going to school, they have become violent and disrespectful. This is one of the most difficult aspects of the job. When you have a student who just doesn’t care, doesn’t think you care, and is now being so disrespectful to you, your co-worker or another student and for what? How do you do your job? How can you get through to them? But when can push passed all that, see them as someone who needs your help, but is going about it in the most backward way, and you get through to that one student, this is a great feeling. When you can make that connection, establish that relationship, and feel like you are helping them get back on track, you feel like everything else you went through with them was worth it. My background in psychology has helped me establish some of these connections, develop techniques that help me de-escalate a situation, and know that today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow, and what happened today doesn’t have to affect what happens tomorrow.

Why did you choose to earn an MA in Psychology? Why at CUNY SPS?  Why did you select an online program?

I achieved my bachelor’s degree later on in my 20’s and, because I had taken a break between my associate’s and my bachelor’s degrees, was all in when I went back. I now know I made the right decision, and couldn’t imagine my life without the knowledge I have gained and the experiences I have been able to have. Also, in order to move up in my field, and to achieve the goals I have set for myself, continuing my education was the only option. I decided to earn my MA in Psychology at CUNY SPS because of their track record. I connected with what the program had to offer, and the program allowed me to start right after I graduated. I didn’t want to take a break, and I got my wish! I elected the online program because I live in Staten Island, and work full-time, so the decision was easy to make. Commuting to and from the city would have been too much, with work and the other activities I am involved in. I commend those that do it every day.

Did you ever think that you would enroll in an online degree program?

No, I did not think that I was ever going to enroll in an online degree program. I liked the interaction between the instructor and the students in the classroom setting; it was a good learning environment for me. But once I started taking online courses, the professors made it very easy for me to continue using the same organizational techniques and discipline that I applied to on-campus classes. I am still able to interact with my classmates, just in a different forum, and they are from all over the country. Some have amazing backgrounds in the field, which make our discussions so interesting. One of the great things about graduate school is that all of your classmates are in the program because they know what they want to do for their career, and have either worked in the field already for a long time or are well-versed in the material. This allows for deeper discussions and a sharing of knowledge that helps ensure everyone’s success.    

Which track are you currently enrolled in (I/O or Developmental)? What intrigues you about your specific track?

I am enrolled in the Developmental track. Everything intrigues me about this specific track! I use so much of what I learn and what I continue to learn in my life. I am intrigued by how people change over the course of their lifetime. I am mainly interested in how events that occur during childhood, such as environmental factors, and genetics can disrupt development of adolescents and how this disruption continues on into adulthood. In the track of developmental psychology, I will be able to learn and understand what “normal” development should look like, while also learning how mental illness and intellectual disabilities develop. This program is solidifying what I have already learned while also taking a more in-depth look to further my understanding.  

Which courses/aspects of the program are you most looking forward to?

I look forward to asking questions and learning how to do the research to get them answered. I have so many ideas running around in my head, and knowing that I will one day have the educational background to be able to put them into practice is really exciting. The courses I am looking forward to the most come at the end of my time at CUNY SPS, which is the capstone project or master’s thesis. This is when I get to work with a mentor in a research lab, utilize my skills, and conduct a study of real interest to me. This is when I get to feel like a real researcher! I have already started working in a research lab at the College of Staten Island with some fantastic people who are really helping me so that when the time comes for me to bring my own ideas to them, I will feel ready.   

Which professional and/or personal goals would you like to achieve prior to graduation? In which ways would you like to see yourself grow as a result of your studies at CUNY SPS?

I have set many goals for myself.  I want to continue my studies and become a candidate for a Ph.D. program in the area of behavioral neuroscience. I am interested in learning about human behavior, and why people make the choices they do. Receiving a degree in developmental psychology will help me understand the development of human beings over the course of their lifetime. My main focus will be on domestic or inter-relational violence, and how this affects children into adolescents. What I want to understand is if we intervene early enough, can we break the cycle? I also want to help others understand that people can change, as well as implement programs that initiate this change and bring families back together. I am currently working on projects that deal with this area of interest. I am developing an accountability piece that will help perpetrators of domestic violence come to a deeper understanding of the violence that they have committed, and how they can do better to not re-offend. I also want to turn this project into a book. A second project that I am working is called Dude, That’s Rude! This phrase helps men tell other men, “Hey, you shouldn’t talk like that about women,” more comfortably. As a result of my studies at CUNY SPS, I will be able to help these projects grow and I will learn how to implement and advertise them better.   

So far, what advice can you give to someone who is considering returning to school for a master’s degree?

Do it! You can come up with so many excuses why not to, but if it’s something that you really want, then you will make the time for it. There are also a lot of options to help with paying for the classes. You just have to do it, and everything else will fall into place.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your experience, thus far, in the program?

It has been a great experience so far. I am enjoying the flexibility, the amount of knowledge I am gaining, and the people and professors I have become acquainted with.


Kendall's Quick Facts:

  • Place of employment: Residential Diagnostic Center
  • Job title: Teacher’s Aide
  • Place of residence: Staten Island. I am originally from Plattsburgh, NY, but moved to Staten Island when I was 21. I lived here for 6 months with my wonderful Aunt and Uncle, then moved to the Bronx, then Queens, and then back to Staten Island. In total, I’ve been in NYC for the last 9 years. It has been an amazing adventure!
  • Weirdest place you have studied: The shower. Let me expand on that a little. I use multiple methods to study, and one of those methods is making a recording of study guides/reading materials so I can listen while I walk to work or while I’m showering. It works!
  • Best thing about the community in which you reside: The food! My boyfriend loves to brag and say that I moved out to Staten Island because he introduced me to fresh mozzarella that’s made locally. He’s not completely wrong, but don’t tell him I said that. We are total foodies, and we love to “travel” through food. Living here, we have an abundance of great places that allow us to do so because there are so many great cultures that have gathered here.  
  • What you enjoy doing in your spare time: My boyfriend and I like to try new restaurants, cook, and hang out with friends. We have a great group of friends, and I feel very blessed.


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