Alumni Spotlight: Amy Moors ’07, Psychology

The Unknown

At 18 years old, Amy was unsure where life would take her and was uncertain college was in her future. Amy’s parents, who had not attended college themselves, were supportive regardless of the path she chose. Amy ultimately made the choice to apply to college, with the understanding she had a lot to learn as a first-generation college student and would have to pay her own way. She narrowed her search on public universities, for financial reasons, and attended a William Paterson University Open House with her father. This event would change her life.

The Power of Mentors

At the Open House, Amy and her father sat in on Professor Kate Makarec’s psychology class. The former psychology department chairperson, Professor Makarec was impressed by Amy’s positive energy and eagerness to absorb information. While Amy was not a top student at the time, the professor felt she had the determination and drive to not only be accepted as a WP student, but also to be a part of the Honors Program on campus. This became Amy’s fate.

As part of the Honors Program, one of Amy’s first courses was an interdisciplinary one— taught by three professors from three different academic areas: philosophy, biology, and psychology. This experience provided a unique and well-rounded introduction to Amy’s academic interests. She honed in on the theory and science behind how the body and brain connect in regards to behavior and free will; she was fascinated by the curriculum. During her first semester, Amy also fell in love with the field of gender studies.

In Amy’s second year at WP, her financial aid package was reduced and she considered what seemed like her only option: transferring to a community college. Amy discussed her situation with Professor Makarec and others on the faculty with whom she had developed relationships. Shortly thereafter, she received a letter stating that she had received a full tuition scholarship to William Paterson for four years.

As she had already completed one year, Amy extended her time at WP to a fifth year. She took advantage of the extra time to secure a double major in psychology and gender studies, and completed psychology research experiences with Professors Elizabeth Haines and Bruce Diamond—experiences that she credits with preparing her for graduate school. Amy also worked under Robert “Bob” Benno, professor emeritus, who offered Amy her first job on campus in the anatomy lab.

She excelled academically and beyond. Amy graduated from WP summa cum laude and won several awards for her research and service here.

Amy’s Inspiration

In 2004, Amy’s junior year, while working as a resident hall assistant, she met Dan Gosnell ’06, who lived in her building. The sweetheart couple would go on to become life partners and recently celebrated 19 years together. Having the experience of forging forward in a relationship from a young age, Amy and Dan had the “us against the world” mindset. Amy credits both Dan and her parents as her greatest inspirations to push forward in her academic and professional journey.

Sources of Pride

Amy earned her Master of Science from Villanova University and is incredibly proud to have graduated with her Ph.D. in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Michigan, one of the top programs in the country for her area of study. While early in her career as a professor (pre-tenure), Amy worked on national guidelines through the American Psychological Association for therapists to follow on how to be affirming of sexual minority clients. These evidence-based guidelines are utilized by mental health professionals across North America.

In 2018, Amy went on to become assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University. She also serves as a research fellow at the world-renowned Kinsey Institute at Indiana University. Her research addresses the impact of inequity on people’s belonging and well-being. She focuses on the relationships people have with others (romantic partners, family, colleagues) and with broader institutions (workplaces, marriage). Much of her research is centered on issues related to holding stigmatized identities in our society, such as engaging in consensual non-monogamy or identifying as LGBTQ. Amy loves teaching a course titled “The Psychology of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation” and mentoring students in her research lab.

Amy says she has a soft spot for William Paterson. She found a home here and found her path here. She now serves on the new Honors Advisory Council on campus and looks forward to paying her knowledge forward to current students. Amy trusts that those students are in good hands, as many of her former beloved professors are still at WP.

Advice for Future WP Graduates

“Network. Get to know your professors. Talk in class or visit professors during office hours. Faculty are helpful and welcoming for those who seek out assistance,” she says. “Be kind and friendly with peers in and out of class to develop a large social network. Take advantage of opportunities that present themselves and offer opportunities to others when you can.”