Alumni Spotlight: Syreeta Gary Washington
Syreeta Gary Washington, M.Ed. graduated from Temple Psychology’s undergraduate program in 1998, then continued her studies in Temple’s Counseling Psychology graduate program. In 2013, she was named Professor of the Year (pictured) at Rowan College, while working as Professor and Psychology Coordinator at Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC). She loves this position because it allows her to inspire students and help them reach their goals. In addition to teaching, Syreeta runs several professional development and community workshops at RCBC, including women’s empowerment workshops for Rowan’s Educational Opportunity Fund program. Outside of RCBC, she founded a consulting firm providing personal coaching services such as parenting strategies and career development advice related to grant writing and résumé development. Her passion for motivational speaking and fitness even led her to facilitate a Zumba session for the Annual Meeting of the NAACP in Philadelphia in 2015!
Prior to joining RCBC’s faculty, Syreeta was the Director of Social Services at a Trenton preschool. This experience connecting with parents led to her publishing a number of children’s books that promote positive behavioral approaches for parents and teachers in addressing challenges such as ADHD and anger management. She has over 15 years of experience in the mental health and social services fields, including providing psychotherapy for at-risk adolescents in the foster care system. Syreeta is also an activist who regularly speaks about the psychological trauma of human trafficking. As a member of the NJ Coalition against Human Trafficking, she has collaborated with the NJ FBI to assist survivors during investigations. Through her work in the community, Syreeta was appointed to the Board of the Ann Klein Forensic Center by the Governor of New Jersey, and serves as the Vice Chair of the Mercer County Commission on the Status of Women. Alongside these organizations, she continues to develop empowering programs for marginalized populations.
Syreeta credits her experiences at Temple University for impacting her professional development. As a transfer student, she expected to be intimidated by Temple’s vast population, but when she arrived, she was able to network, form solid friendships and even call the Department of Psychology a place which “felt like home.” As an undergrad, Syreeta recalled working as a research assistant for Dr. Marsha Weinraub’s NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, and in Dr. Philip Kendall’s Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic. She explains, “each of these experiences were pivotal in my development as a student, an academic, and a professor. They both enhanced my appreciation for the intersection of research, policy and practice. I understand how research can go beyond the laboratory to actually change lives, how to follow research protocols while having professional and ethical interactions with participants and how a research team should function in a way that is respectful and collegial.” She is a firm believer that “your experience at Temple is what you make it.” She began her first semester at Temple with a newborn baby, and still maintained a close connection to her studies. She suggests that students take time to “read the flyers posted on bulletin boards about open positions in the department and take a chance to develop yourself.” As a student, she took advantage of these opportunities because she believes it is important “to do more than just go to class and go home, even when there are diapers to change at home.” Shortly after her undergraduate graduation, she married her husband, whom had proposed to her while working in a lab in Weiss Hall. This summer, they will celebrate their 20th anniversary.