Alumni Spotlight: Rolanda Findlay
Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Rolanda Findlay earned a B.A. in Psychology from Temple in 2004, a M.S. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Virginia Tech in 2007, and a Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Virginia Tech in 2009. In the same year, she was commissioned into the U.S. Navy as an Aerospace Experimental Psychologist. Over the past seven years, LCDR Findlay has served in the Navy, working on numerous research projects that have had direct impact on the fleet, ranging from aviation selection testing, to training, to performance measurement. In 2016, she was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) and now serves as the Military Deputy for Research and Technology Programs at the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division.
As an Aerospace Experimental Psychologist, LCDR Findlay brings knowledge and insight from the scientific world and applies it to needs, current and future, of the Navy. She explains, “Simply put, my job is to be a bridge between those worlds, naval aviation and the scientific community. To understand the needs and issues impacting the Navy, I have to regularly engage with the fleet. I do this by getting flight time, conducting focus groups and interviews, providing training, and working on special fleet projects. I also need to stay up-to-date and engaged with advances in I/O Psychology, Science and Technology (S&T), and Research and Development (R&D). I do this by attending and presenting at conferences and working groups, collaborating with other scientists, reading scientific publications, visiting partner laboratories, and engaging with academia and industry.”
During her time at Temple, LCDR Findlay participated in the McNair Program. As a McNair Scholar, she was paired with Dr. Donald Hantula to gain experience conducting and presenting research. With these faculty members, she completed a senior thesis titled, “Now or Later? A Study of Group Differences in Inter-temporal Choices.” LCDR Findlay states, “this study examined whether certain group differences are related to the rate at which individuals’ discount the significance of money over time. The results were in line with previous research, and showed that monetary inter-temporal choices are made on the basis of individual experience, and are a product of environment, not one’s age, gender, or perceived race.” Throughout graduate school, she studied situational judgment tests for training evaluation, but she is currently involved in “creating an evaluation tool that can enhance performance measurement and standardize instructor feedback for unmanned aerial system operators.”
LCDR Findlay was introduced to Aerospace Experimental Psychology while attending the Annual Conference for the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in 2009. She said, “I was walking around the exhibit hall, visiting the booths, honestly looking for free pens and other swag. I came across one booth that really intrigued me. A man dressed in a military uniform told me about the Naval Aerospace Experimental Psychologists, their mission, and the community they served. He explained, I would do everything I was trained to do as an I/O psychologist, but I would direct my knowledge and skills to serving Naval Aviators. He then added, ‘And, we will teach you how to fly’. I have to admit, that last line hooked me.” Since then, LCDR Findlay has served in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, in 2012-2013. She was deployed as a part of the Navy Mobile Care Team 6, on a mission to provide real-time advocacy and mental health support for fellow Navy Sailors operating in theater. From 2013-2014, she worked as a humanitarian /aid worker traveling 11 countries over the course of 11 months. LCDR Findlay had “the opportunity to work on a number of different outreach projects, ranging from hospice care, orphan care, English instruction, and even construction. Both my deployment and my aid work taught me more about life than I can fully capture in this brief interview. Ultimately, I learned that even in the presence of great pain, sorrow, and war; there still exists great beauty, humanity, and hope - and hope always wins.”
LCDR Findlay credits her time at Temple for providing her with a solid foundation, and the preparation needed to excel in graduate school and in my career. “Through mentorship from Dr. Hantula, the McNair program, and the Temple Honors program, I received a roadmap for success, and a network of support. I learned that the key to winning any game is to first understand the rules. By learning the rules, I was able to become a competitive candidate for graduate school, and ultimately received a full scholarship to cover the full cost of my doctoral studies. At Temple, I became empowered to create my future, and I have carried that sense of empowerment with me ever since.” She suggests that current students take initiative because you never know where it will lead. "For example, I was not invited into the Honors program when I first came to Temple. After my second year, I took the initiative and asked if I could join the program. I learned that each time I took the initiative and reached for an opportunity, it had a domino effect, and more opportunities would then become available to me.” LCDR Findlay also advises psychology undergraduates to actively build their reputation now. She explains, “I had no idea that the choices, decisions, and the work I was producing in college would impact me in my present day life. I was contacted by this newsletter because of the reputation I began building with my college mentor, Dr. Hantula, almost 15 years ago. Your reputation precedes and follows you, so be intentional and do your personal best every time. It’s never too early, or too late, to start building your legacy.”