Alumni Profile: Anna Marshall
It was an interest in going to a small school with a service-oriented perspective that brought Anna Marshall C’07 from Florida to North Park, while a desire to work in a direct service position in a field related to helping people that led her to major in psychology.
Since graduating, Anna has realized that goal. She works as an associate behavior analyst for a nonprofit special education organization for autistic children where she teaches skills to prevent problem behavior and trains classroom staff in behavior management and effective instructional strategies.
“I’m figuring out why students are engaging in problem behaviors,” she explains. “It could be to get attention, to escape a difficult task, or because they want something. I’m determining why a behavior is occurring and then what types of skills I can teach the student so they can get what they need more effectively and with less disruptive behavior.”
Her North Park experience provided a foundation in understanding the field of psychology and offered opportunities to develop strong writing skills, conduct research, participate in a student research conference, and work closely with faculty.
While overall she found psychology faculty to be academically knowledgeable and positive role models for how to integrate psychology with serving others, Dr. Elizabeth Gray, her senior advisor, taught her how to critically evaluate, conduct, and synthesize research. But more importantly to Anna, Dr. Gray devoted her time to serve as a mentor and help her through the research process.
“She was always giving up her time,” she says. “That’s very unique to North Park—the willingness of faculty to come in early and help undergrads.”
In addition to coursework, Anna was also involved in the Psychology Club, played intramural volleyball, and tutored elementary and middle school students at a local Chicago school, a volunteer opportunity that she found through North Park. But her psychology degree helped bring it all together and prepare her to work in special education.
“It gave me the freedom to explore which area was most interesting to me and provided me with practical professional skills,” she says.