Michael Gallina, a love of psychology is more than academic. It may have saved
a nontraditional student with a psychology major, was inducted this spring into
both the nontraditional honor society and the psychology honor society, but he
wasn’t always such a model student.
road to Pitt-Bradford was long and winding. It included a time in Philadelphia,
time smoking pot, time drinking, time abusing prescription drugs, time in the
service, time in Potter County, time blacking out, time in jail, time drying
out and finally, time in rehab.
his very last day in rehab at Maple Manor in Port Allegany, an influential
counselor asked him to write a plan for when he got out. He thought back to
what a psychologist at Soldiers and Sailors Hospital in Wellsboro had asked
him, “Where do you want to be in 10 years?”
day after he got out of rehab, he walked into the admissions office at
Pitt-Bradford and said he would like to be admitted to study psychology. He was
admitted provisionally, a gamble that has paid off for the admissions officer
who made that choice.
two years, he’s been a model student, and now his life consists of time at
work, time in class, time studying, time on the Dean’s list.
is a rarity. I wish I had more students like him,” said Dr. Warren Fass,
associate professor of psychology.
said Gallina is very goal-oriented, has found out what it will take to meet his
goal of going to graduate school in psychology and is doggedly working toward
credits the change from chaos to order in his life to Rational Emotive Behavior
Therapy, which he was introduced to at Maple Manor. Gallina said that for him, more
standard approaches such as Alcoholics Anonymous were not working.
emphasizes changing speech and language to change thought patterns. It fights
the irrational thoughts that make good people interpret events through a dark
didn’t know how to think,” Gallina said. “I need to think more. I need to think
clear that he’s been doing that, starting at Maple Manor and ending up in a
psychology classroom, where he enjoys applying what he learns to his own
situation. To hear him speak now about what was happening in his mind during
his earlier troubles is like being seated next to an aeronautical engineer on a
explores the biology and psychology of his own mind then and now and the
effects of his thinking on himself and others. It’s hard work – this thinking
takes a lot of effort to challenge yourself,” he said.
fall, he’s taking on a considerable challenge, pursuing independent research
with Fass to ready himself for graduate school.
taken Fass’s course in data analysis and writing in the spring, Gallina has
developed a topic on religion’s role in psychological processes.
conduct the research, Gallina will survey members of the incoming freshman
the data is gathered and examined, Gallina’s ultimate goal is to have it
published and take the next step in his path toward success.