Ayelet Schwerd has always wanted to become a psychologist. Growing up with a mother and two older sisters who are psychologists, she knew it was a way she could make a difference in people’s lives. Next year, she will begin the PsyD program at Rutgers University, one of the top-ranked programs in the nation. This month, she will graduate from Touro as the valedictorian of Touro’s Lander College for Women–The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School.
After spending her first year of college at a secular university near her home in Queens, Ayelet transferred to Lander College for Women (LCW) in search of a more balanced education. “I wanted the very best secular education coupled with the very best Torah education. Touro allows me not to have to compromise in either of these areas,” she said.
At LCW, Ayelet found the diverse opportunities she was seeking. “The faculty members are incredible,” she says. “They are paradigms of excellence in their fields and they abide and display Torah values.” Ayelet took advantage of the individualized attention that a small college offers to forge strong connections with her professors. Psychology professors Naomi Klapper and Perella Perlstein helped her to secure internships and research opportunities and provided feedback to strengthen her PsyD application.
Touro’s New York City location enabled Ayelet to complete several internships where she honed her skills in psychology and developed a hands-on understanding of the mental health field. Interning at the Institute for Applied Research and Community Collaboration (ARCC), she analyzed the effectiveness of teacher and principal training programs. Interning at the Queens Hospital Center’s Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic for Children and Adolescents gave her experience working one-on-one with children. She also found time to do research at CUNY and to work as program director at a summer camp. Ayelet dedicated time to Jewish outreach, running weekly kiruv programs and, on Shabbos, assisting children and families who are struggling with mental, physical, and emotional disabilities.
Ayelet also found her Judaic courses inspirational. “Sometimes people think that after seminary, Judaic education ends. I have found that my skills and love for learning have only grown,” she said. She aspires to synthesize psychological tools and Torah principles and mores to elevate behavioral standards in the frum community. She plans to specialize in child and adolescent psychology. “Childhood and adolescent experiences impact and shape what a person ultimately becomes. That critical period can be transformative for the person’s entire life, so proper guidance through those times is essential,” she said.
“Ayelet is a rare and talented young woman – smart, thoughtful, and well-grounded in Torah values. LCW has been enriched by having Ayelet as a student. I eagerly anticipate hearing of her future achievements,” said Marian Stolz-Loike, PhD, Dean of Lander College for Women.