Psychology and neuroscience graduate will focus on mental well-being of youth

Firsthand internship experience with children with mental health challenges shaped Eliza Joy's decision to pursue a doctorate in school psychology

Eliza Joy

Photo courtesy of Eliza Joy


Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates.

Career-connected learning made all the difference in Eliza Joy’s undergraduate education at ASU.

In addition to double majoring in psychology in the School of Counseling and Counseling Psychology at the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, and neuroscience at The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, she gained intensive, real-world experiences during two internships: as a counseling aide and social science technician.

While interning at Desert Visions Youth Wellness Center, a Native American youth substance abuse treatment facility, Joy said she learned how factors such as poverty, generational trauma, addiction and a lack of mental health resources can significantly impact nearly every area of health and education.

“My two incredible internships were integral to my success during my undergraduate education,” noted Joy, who is one of three graduates being honored as an inaugural Dean’s Medalist in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts this spring. The college's Dean’s Medalists are honored for their display of exemplary academic achievement and record of leadership and service.

These experiences motivated her to continue learning in this arena and in the fall, she will pursue school psychology as a doctoral student at the University of South Carolina.

Question: Did a scholarship help fund your academic journey at ASU?

Answer: The Medallion Scholarship Program helped fund my academic journey at ASU and played a big role in my success as a student. Not only did MSP help relieve some of the financial burdens of my studies, but the program also provided me with an immense amount of support and community. The scholarship program prides itself on academic success, leadership, and community service and has helped me grow in all of those areas throughout my years at ASU.

Q: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the fields you majored in?

A: A huge “aha” moment that solidified my passion for the field was my experience interning for Advanced Therapeutic Solutions for Anxiety, a mental health clinic that specializes in anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and selective mutism. I had the opportunity to work with children with selective mutism in the intensive exposure therapy process as a psychological confederate. During my time there, I worked as a psychological confederate and in that role, I was used as a therapeutic tool for those who had selective mustism in exposure therapy sessions. Here, I learned about the importance of early intervention and the significant role that educational systems play in the well-being of students. 

During Adventure Camp, a week-long exposure therapy session, I asked my camper, “What was your favorite part of the day?” They looked up at me, smiled, and replied, “You!” Out of all the fun things we did that day, which included a trip to the ice cream parlor, I had made a positive impact on their day and enough of an impact to be considered one of the best parts. That is my “why” when I am asked why I chose the path I am on now.   

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom, lab or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: One of the most important lessons I learned during my time at ASU is that I — and you — can do hard things. Life and college are full of challenges, but in embracing the things that encompass our human experience, we find ourselves. Growth is uncomfortable, but it is incredibly beautiful, too.  

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because of its renowned psychology programs, extensive connections, and significant research. Arizona will always be my home!        

Q: What was your most interesting moment, story or accomplishment at ASU?

A: One of my favorite moments in my ASU journey was being elected to represent the Polytechnic campus as Homecoming Royalty on ASU’s Homecoming Court. I had the best time celebrating ASU traditions, meeting new people, and bringing electric energy to all of the Homecoming events! Having the opportunity to be a part of Homecoming in such a unique way was truly one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU and what was it?

A: Professor Bryan Camp gave me a lot of incredible advice throughout my years at ASU, spanning from academic support to overall personal well-being. One of the most important lessons he taught me was the value of lifelong learning and how important and exciting it is to continue to grow your knowledge, experiences and yourself.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Trust yourself to figure life out as you go. Your early 20s are hard, and if there is one thing I’ve learned as a student success coach at ASU, it is that everybody puts so much pressure on the need to know exactly where they will end up. You will discover your path. Trust your own journey and timeline, as they belong to you.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus?

A: During the cooler months, I loved to study by the water fountain outside of the Student Union at the Polytechnic campus. During the warmer months, I loved hanging out with my friends by the Starbucks at the Student Union and listening to the students' hustle and bustle.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I will pursue a PhD in school psychology with an emphasis in pediatric health and integrated care at the University of South Carolina. In the future, I want to work on a panel of health care providers to take an interdisciplinary approach to the well-being of children by supporting those who struggle with serious health conditions as they transition back into an educational setting.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would focus on optimizing the success of our future generations by way of our educational systems. I think it is important not only to deliver quality education but also to integrate structured support systems, interventions, and programs for developing life skills, especially regarding mental health. The mind and the body work together and influence each other in nearly every capacity, and I believe we could do a lot to set up our future generations for successful and healthy lives. I don’t know if $40 million would solve this problem, but it would be an awesome start!

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