Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior (Previously Human Sciences)

Outstanding Student for ISHB is Ron Kelly VanLent

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VanLentThe 2018 Craig D. Lebo Outstanding Student Award for Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior is Ron Kelly VanLent. A man of many talents, Ron is noted as an outstanding student and teacher. A retired air traffic control specialist, he teaches in the Mathematics Division at Howard Community College. In addition to teaching algebra, he supervises the advanced math students acting as teaching assistants and manages the computer lab portion of the developmental math program which gives students support through lessons, tutoring, and required testing. He was honored as HCC’s Mathematics Division Inspiring Adjunct Instructor for the 2017-2018 academic year. He accomplished this all while completing his degree at Hood and keeping up a 4.0 GPA in the program!

Understanding Psychology in Sports

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MSEA HeadshotHood College graduate students make contributions to their fields even before they graduate! Casey Rudzinski, a student in the M. A. in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior (ISHB) program, recently worked on a fact sheet for the American Psychological Association (APA) called ‘Fostering Resilience Through Athletics.’ As the publication explains; “while it is not possible to protect youth athletes from the ups and downs inherent in sport (and in life), it is possible to provide them with the tools they need to respond to challenges.”


 Casey is working on his second graduate degree. He has a B.S. from Temple University in Sport and Recreation Management and an M.A. in Sports Management from Mount Saint Mary’s University. Through his background in sports, he began to realize that “coaching is all about psychology…mental wellness needs to be part of the overall health concerns for athletes.” He eventually plans to go for his PhD in Psychology and decided to come to Hood to get more background in psychology. As part of the newly re-designed ISHB program, Casey thinks that its strengths are the wide variety of class choice. It is also “tailored to fit the needs of the students, not to one career or viewpoint.” Outside of graduate school, Casey is already working in the community. He coaches girls’ basketball at Tuscarora High, where he is an Instructional Assistant. He is on the Board of Directors of the Frederick Association for School Staff Employees and is also on the board of the Maryland Basketball Coaches Association.


With his background in sports and psychology, Casey was happy to work with the APA on this project. He explains that it was an overlap between sports and psychology, and writers were trying to make the sports aspect more approachable to people with a psychology background. Most of the people working on the project had the background in psychology, and Casey brought insight from his time in sports. All worked together to create a fact sheet with ideas for parents, coaches, and sports psychology professionals to help youth athletes develop resilience. With practical ideas and theory, Casey and his colleagues created a document that people can really use.

Understanding Human Behavior

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Kristin Trible - headshotFor Hood College graduate student Kristin Trible, life is all about learning. Whether working for the government, running for office, or working with a nonprofit, her experiences led to her starting her graduate degree, which is already helping her work. As part of a graduate school whose students have diverse backgrounds and life experiences, she discounts the terminology of ‘non-traditional student,’ saying “we should all strive to be lifelong learners, so why would such a term even exist?” She loves taking tests and explains “I find myself sitting down to a test excited to see if I’ve learned everything necessary. Give me a paper to write, and I’m beyond thrilled.”

Originally from Florida, Trible earned her B. A. in psychology from Duke University. She worked in Annapolis for a state legislator, survived a stint in insurance industry management, and thrived in the Federal Government. She became an educational advocate after volunteering at her children’s school, eventually running for a seat on the Montgomery County Board of Education. While unsuccessful, she loved every minute of engaging with voters and discussing education issues. She has spent the last five years building a mentoring program for Future Link, a nonprofit that provides education and career supports to first generation college students.

After dithering for several years over when and where to earn a master’s degree, Kristin found Hood and the Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior (ISHB) Master’s Program. After considering programs in Education, Law, Public Policy, and Counseling, she decided that the ISHB program was the perfect way to combine those areas. “From Civil Liberties to Social Gerontology to Human Development, I have enjoyed learning and, more importantly, applying what I’ve learned to life and work… I’ve now developed a workshop on supporting first generation college students that I recently presented to staff at Montgomery College. As I improve the Future Link curriculum, I’m constantly drawing on all that I’ve learned in the past year and a half. It’s been a terrific experience!”

Outstanding Student- Human Behavior

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 Lauretta came to Hood after a 24-year business career, most recently as Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations for Avemco Insurance, one of the country’s leading aircraft insurers. She entered the Human Sciences MA program in fall 2015 and excelled in its fast paced and demanding courses. With great determination and personal sacrifice, Lauretta completed her course work in just seventeen months. Developing an affinity for the courses with a social psychology focus, she intends to apply the knowledge in her work and volunteer endeavors.   The National Association of Flight Instructors recently recruited Lauretta as their Director of Marketing & Communications, where she hopes to leverage her education and aviation safety experience to help reduce the fatal accident rate in aviation through engagement with flight instructors and the aviation community.

Hood College Graduate School’s Human Sciences program undergoes name change

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In 1971, Hood College’s Graduate School began with one program, the Master of Arts in Human Sciences. The program has had a variety of concentrations throughout the past 40+ years, including education, environmental biology, public affairs, nursing, counseling, special education, and management. To reflect its housing within the Psychology & Counseling Department, as well as the interdisciplinary approach of the curriculum, the program has been renamed “Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior”.

Many of Hood’s current graduate programs started out as tracks of the degree, as it was initially developed for the human service occupations.

According to Dr. Jason Trent, Director of the program, “The decision to change the name of the program came after careful consideration by faculty of the Psychology & Counseling department in order to better reflect its current curriculum and focus.  Not only will this better reflect what the program has emphasized for the past several years, but it is also more descriptive. A variety of people have asked, ‘What is Human Sciences?’, and we believe this ambiguity may hinder the success of our students after graduating. Changing the name to Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior will make it clearer to potential students and to potential employers of former students as to what this degree offers.”

Visit the Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Behavior program website for more information.

Hood Student Advocates for Victims and Witnesses

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WalterHood13Walter Hood, a Master’s candidate in Hood College’s Human Sciences program, serves as a victim/witness coordinator with the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office.  In the position for about a year, he primarily works in the District Court as one of six people responsible for acclimating witnesses to the legal system and assuring they are comfortable throughout their contact with the courts.

Hood and his colleagues prepare witnesses for trial, often walking them through what questions they can expect to hear on the stand. He coaches them to always tell the truth, and goes over relevant reports with them to refresh their memories.

“In district court, our prosecutors are extremely busy,” Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie Smith said. “Without people like Walter, we wouldn’t really be able to give that personal contact that I feel is extremely important to victims and witnesses of crime.”

For Hood, a Montgomery County resident, the position is an ideal way to blend his interest in law and his love of working with people. He got his start in the legal field at a bankruptcy firm in Bethesda, but he didn’t like working on behalf of big banks. “They didn’t put value on people,” he said. He considered going to law school, but decided against it after many of the lawyers at the firm said, if they had the chance to do it over again, they would not go back to law school.

Hood’s background is not typical for the position, Smith said. Most victim/witness coordinators have a background in criminal justice, not civil businesses cases. Hood’s people skills were impressive, though. “When we hired Walter, he wasn’t your prototypical victim witness coordinator,” Smith said. “We took a gamble on it, and it has worked out tremendously.”

Hood said “I applied for the victim/witness coordinator position because it would let me work more closely with people while still being a part of the court system.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Mike Moore said Hood’s people skills have served him well over the past few weeks as he trained to assist Moore on the domestic violence docket. Hood helped convince a victim of domestic violence to testify against her abuser, which can be a challenge.  Walter has also had to help people in unexpected ways. He recently led a woman with visual impairment around the courthouse by the hand and called her a taxi to make sure she made it back home safely.

Working with people in stressful situations can be emotional. Hood is often moved by drug cases, where he has seen how addiction can affect an entire family. “It can be pretty tough to watch a mother and a father crying in court … because this one family member is deciding to use drugs.”

Walter Hood loves what he is doing and the energy follows him. He says “The master’s program at Hood College really helped me identify and sharpen the strategic tools that I need to be successful in my day-to-day work. The Human Sciences Master’s program is extremely relevant when it comes to understanding and working with people, especially those in crisis situations, so it is a huge advantage to be able to incorporate the valuable information from the classroom and bring it to the workplace.”

Internationally Known Thanatologist to Speak at Hood College

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Dr. Neimeyer

Dr. Neimeyer

Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D., will be the featured speaker for the Friday, April 1, 2016 program of the Dana G. Cable Memorial Thanatology Lecture Series. The internationally respected thanatologist will also conduct a workshop on Saturday, April 2, 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. His topic will be contemporary understandings of grieving as a meaning-making process and what it implies for individuals and families.

Both events are open to the public and free of charge. The lecture will be held in Rosenstock Hall’s Hodson Auditorium. To register for the workshop, which will take place at Hodson Science and Technology Center, Room 131, email

Dr. Neimeyer is a Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, where he also maintains an active clinical practice. Since completing his doctoral training at the University of Nebraska in 1982, he has published 30 books, including Techniques of Grief Therapy: Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved and Grief and the Expressive Arts:  Practices for Creating Meaning (with Barbara Thompson). Dr. Neimeyer serves as Editor of the journal Death Studies and has authored nearly 500 articles and book chapters.

Find out more about Hood’s thanatology certificate and master’s degree programs.

Thanatology Program Holds Death Cafe

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Recently, the Graduate School at Hood College’s Thanatology program hosted a Death Cafe for the greater Frederick community. The Saturday event–attended by 41 individuals ranging from hospice volunteers, a physician, and a death doula–spent the morning enjoying refreshments while discussing death. The objective was to increase awareness of death with a view of helping people make the most of their finite lives.

The group talked about right to die legislation, death anxiety, young individuals’ changing views of death and other death-related topics. Facilitators included thanatology program graduates Bunny O’Dell and Elsie Weinstein and current students Emily Fair, Paula Grant and Beverly Rollins.

Find out more about Hood’s thanatology certificate and master’s degree programs.

Thomas Receives Outstanding Graduate Student Award

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Gail Thomas, center, with Human Sciences program director Elizabeth MacDougall and Hood President Ronald Volpe

As a senior study director with Westat, one of America’s oldest social science research organizations managing and conducting process and outcome data collection for studies involving at-risk youth, clergy and the elderly, Gail Thomas wanted to know more. So the 15-year Westat veteran came to Hood’s Graduate School to deepen her understanding of human behavior and gerontology.

When she graduated with a master’s in Human Sciences in May 2015, Gail was honored with the Outstanding Human Sciences Student Award for 2015. This monetary award, established by Craig D. Lebo in 2011, is given annually to the top graduate student in the program, based on criteria such as academic achievement, leadership ability, teamwork skills, and contribution to the program. ​

Since 2008, Gail has collaborated with the Divinity School of Duke University to conduct the Clergy Health Initiative Longitudinal Study, which seeks to assess, track and improve the physical, spiritual and emotional health of United Methodist Church clergy in North Carolina. In 2013, she was project director for the Congregational Decision-Making About Clergy Compensation Study for Duke University’s School of Sociology and the Lilly Endowment. In spring 2015, Gail was a task leader for the Association of American Universities’ Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, which was administered to 27 participating research colleges and universities.

Currently, Gail is exploring the potential role for clergy as sentinels of elder abuse.  

Author of “Motherless Daughters” to Speak at Hood March 2

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Hope EdelmanHope Edelman, the acclaimed author of Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers, will be the guest lecturer for this year’s Dana G. Cable Memorial Thanatology Lecture Series at Hood College.  Ms. Edelman’s topic is “Motherless Daughters: Twenty Years Later.”

The lecture will be held Monday, March 2, 7 pm, in Hodson Auditorium at Rosenstock Hall on Hood’s campus. A Q&A session will follow Ms. Edelman’s remarks. Admission is free.

A sought-after speaker, Hope Edelman presents around the world and has appeared on television programs such as TodayGood Morning America, CNN and Good Morning Australia. She has written six books and has been published in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles TimesThe Huffington Post, Glamour, Child, and Real Simple, among other publications

The lecture series is named in honor of Dana Cable, former professor of psychology at Hood who passed away in 2010.