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Alumni Spotlight

Alumni are a very special part of the College of Psychology. Our graduates consistently make us proud while achieving success in a multitude of professional endeavors spanning fields in psychology, industry, and government. The NSU Alumni Association and the College of Psychology are pleased to offer a wide variety of alumni events throughout the year in South Florida and across the country. We encourage you to frequently check your mailbox, email, and the Alumni Association website to learn about upcoming events in your area.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to join NSU Connect! NSU Connect allows you to both reconnect with old classmates and utilize the trusted NSU environment to expand your professional network. By fully integrating with social networks and cultivating a culture of helping and giving back, you will be amazed how vibrant your NSU community is! Stay connected and update your address with NSU to receive university and Alumni Association information.

To update your alumni record, click here.

Nicholas M. Cutro, Psy.S.

Nicholas CutroM.S. General Psychology | Class of 2008
Psy.S. School Psychology | Class of 2010

Nicholas M. Cutro, Psy.S. works as a school psychologist both in private practice and for Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, FL. Cutro’s specialty is working with children between the ages of four and 12. He evaluates children and consults with families for a wide range of neurodevelopmental concerns. He is also a past president of the Orange County Association of School Psychologists and the president-elect of the Florida Association of School Psychologists (FASP).

Cutro said one of his favorite memories at NSU was rock climbing at the RecPlex. He cites Dr. Scott Poland as an influence on his work. “I learned from Dr. Poland that I could create my own niche in the field.” Cutro believes that school psychologists will always be needed to solve problems with children. His advice for current NSU students: “Once you stop learning and lose motivation, your career will become static. My advice is to continue learning like you are still in school, develop at least one specialty, and focus on your strengths.”

Jonathan Perle, Ph.D., ABPP

Jonathan PerlePh.D. Clinical Psychology | Class of 2013

Jonathan Perle, Ph.D., ABPP, is a board-certified clinical child and adolescent psychologist. He works as an Assistant Professor at Midwestern University and teaches courses ranging from Life Span Development to Child and Adolescent Assessment. Perle is also coordinator for the child/adolescent track in the University’s Clinical Psychology program. “As coordinator of the track, I designed the curriculum, teach multiple classes to doctoral level trainees, supervise dissertations and research, supervise clinical endeavors, and conduct my own research,” he said. He holds leadership roles in the Midwestern University Behavioral Sciences Academic Review, Admissions, and APA Self-Study Committees. He is also an editorial board member of the Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science. Perle has published multiple articles, with the most recent being “A proposed parent management training-focused smartphone app: How mHealth can foster improved inter-session adherence and behavioral monitoring.”

Perle cited NSU College of Psychology Professors Barry Nierenberg and William Dorfman as influences on his work. “They trained, guided, and supported me throughout my training and professional career. Without them, I would not be as well-trained in clinical work, research, or outreach,” he said. A Fort Lauderdale native, Perle said his fondest memory at NSU was meeting his fiance at a Valentine’s Day social event. He has some advice for those pursuing a career in child/adolescent psychology: “Being a good child and adolescent psychologist requires you to not only understand child development and interventions, but be a lifelong student of knowledge in order to both stay abreast of the rapidly changing scientific research base, and to further hone the craft of navigating complex family dynamics.”

Jay Trambadia, Psy.D.

Jay TrambadiaPsy.D. Clinical Psychology | Class of 2012

Jay Trambadia is a licensed clinical psychologist who works at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Atlanta, GA. Trambadia leads and coordinates the medical center’s Psychology Department. His work includes providing consultation for all departments of the hospital, including oncology, surgery, pain management, rehab, and radiation. He also provides psychoeducation for staff and sits as a member of the Committee on Cancer.

Prior to attending NSU, Dr. Trambadia completed his B.S. in Psychology at The University of Georgia, where he was active in community service with the American Red Cross, Relay for Life, and Boys and Girls club. “My service in these organizations imparted awareness of psychological factors in all types of circumstances.” After graduation, Dr. Trambadia completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Duke University Medical Center where he contributed to the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Services by working with patients with biopsychosocial concerns, consulting with medical staff, and providing supervision.

Trambadia has authored multiple articles and presented to a wide audience. He considers his tenure as Student Government Association President a highlight of his time at NSU, particularly in being able to make a difference and implement improvements for his college and university. Trambadia credits the college’s faculty for helping his professional development. “The guidance from the faculty and administration has helped shape me as a psychologist, leader, and more importantly as a professional,” he said. He encourages current students to involve themselves in as many activities as possible and to stay engaged with faculty and peers. “NSU sets students up for success by having many opportunities of networking and collaboration,” he said. “There are not many places that have this wide variety of professions under one beautiful campus.”

Donna Berghauser, Psy.D.

Donna BerghauserPsy.D. School Psychology | Class of 2015

Donna Berghauser, Psy.D., works as a school psychologist for Hillsborough County Public Schools on Florida’s west coast. Berghauser grew up on military bases in countries like South Korea and Japan, and it was in high school in Germany that she decided to study psychology in college. Berghauser came to Florida and earned her bachelor’s in psychology at Florida State University before moving on to NSU for graduate work.

Berghauser credits faculty mentoring for having an impact on her education.

“You get to know all your professors on an intimate level and share their research interests,” Berghauser said. “You can’t help but take on the same passion for school psychology and want to do great things.”

Berghauser is dedicated to making a difference in working at a Title I middle school with a high expulsion rate.

“You want the best for them,” she said. “To be a good school psychologist, you have to reach beyond the campus.”

In addition to her day job, Berghauser also serves as president-elect of the Florida Association of School Psychologists (FASP), a three year commitment that will take her from president-elect to president and then past president. FASP’s mission is to advocate for the mental health and educational development of children and families, as well as advancing the profession of school psychology.

“I want to focus on social justice and inequality in the education system,” Berghauser said.

Christopher Checke, M.S., M.B.A., LMHC, CAP

Christopher CheckeM.S. Counseling | Class of 2002
M.B.A. Health Services Administration | Class of 2005

Christopher Checke, M.S., M.B.A., owns a Fort Lauderdale-based practice that serves adults, teens, and elders via individual counseling, couples, and family work. His areas of interest include relationships, positive psychology, shame resiliency, shame-based psychopathology, addictions, self-affirming identities, and sexual health. He has been interviewed by local media outlets in South Florida. He is also a member of the Board of Governors for the United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse. On the future of his profession, Checke said: “This is a very exciting time for the field of behavioral healthcare! Healthcare practitioners across multiple disciplines are integrating services and coordinating care more effectively in the communities they serve.” He believes that advancements in trauma research and treatment, as well as research into more effective diagnostic measures, will have a positive impact on behavioral healthcare.

Checke cites the clinical training from NSU Associate Clinical Professor Ana Martinez, Psy.D., as an influence on his work. During his time at NSU, he most enjoyed the Group Therapy & Practice course. He also has some advice for current students: “Don’t always listen to what the mainstream suggests is the truth. Forge your own path based on your beliefs, not someone else’s beliefs. Honor your deepest wisdom and let that be your guide.”

Rachel Needle, Psy.D.

Rachel NeedlePsy.D. Clinical Psychology | Class of 2006

Rachel Needle, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist at the Center for Marital and Sexual Health of South Florida, where she also conducted her postdoctoral residency. In 2011, she founded the Whole Health Psychological Center, a comprehensive psychological practice with therapists that have a broad range of specialty areas. In 2010, Needle started the Advanced Mental Health Training Institute, a continuing education provider company that offers services to Florida mental health professionals, as well as psychologists and sex therapists around the world. She also founded the subsidiary company Modern Sex Therapy Institutes, which provides workshops in topics related to sex and sexuality, and offers a full sex therapy certification course.

Needle also works as a clinical consultant for substance abuse disorder treatment centers around the country. She is the Clinical Director of the Seacrest Recovery Center in Boynton Beach and does consulting and programming for other treatment centers in South Florida. She also taught courses at Nova Southeastern University, including Human Sexuality, Gender Violence: Domestic, and Violence, Sexual Assault & Child Abuse. Needle has been published in professional journals and quoted in popular magazines like Details, Glamour, and Cosmopolitan. Needle believes students should find their passion and become an expert in that area. “Go out of your way to seek additional trainings and connections in the area you want to specialize in. Know your worth and value yourself and your time,” she said.

Giselle Gaviria, M.S.

Giselle GaviriaB.S. Psychology | Class of 2007

Giselle Gaviria, M.S., works as a mental health therapist at Associates for Psychological Services in Davie, where she conducts individual and group therapy. She is also a researcher at the University of South Florida, focusing on evaluating a program’s efficacy in working with survivors of sex trafficking. Gaviria is pursuing a doctorate in psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology. Her areas of interest include forensic psychology, sex trafficking, immigration, substance abuse, and trauma. She has made presentations on these topics and is currently writing a book on sex trafficking.

Gaviria cites NSU Professor Lenore Walker, Ed.D., as an inspirational mentor. Recalling her undergraduate experience, she said: “I have many wonderful memories of NSU. NSU really opened my eyes to new experiences in studying abroad and traveling in the road less traveled.” Her advice for current students is to explore courses that they would not normally take. “You would be surprised to see how much you learn and how much of it you can apply it to different areas in your life,” she said.

Rosalyn I. Johnson, Ed.D, LMHC, CCTP, NCC

Rosalyn JohnsonM.S. Counseling | Class of 2011

Rosalyn Johnson, Ed.D., is a Clinical Supervisor and Coordinator of Therapeutic Services at Community Health of South Florida, Inc. She oversees and manages the outpatient therapeutic services department, which includes infant mental health, child and adolescent mental health, and adult and geriatric mental health outpatient services. She also manages the child, adolescent, and adult outpatient substance abuse therapy services, and she also supervises several licensed clinicians. Her research interests include how children and adolescents with PTSD and learning disabilities process and describe their experiences with trauma. One of her co-workers, Ronbardo Gay, LMHC, is a fellow NSU graduate.

During her time at NSU, Johnson served on the boards of three graduate student organizations, including the Counseling Student Organization (CSO), Ethnic Minority Association of Graduate Students (EMAG), and the Students of the Advancement of Psychology (SOAP). Johnson said NSU Associate Professor Mercedes ter Maat, Ph.D., is an influence on her work today. Johnson has some advice for current students: “I encourage students to become involved in advocating for the counseling profession and for an increase in funding for mental health services in our communities, in our state, and across our country.” Johnson believes in the future of her profession, noting that there will always be a need for mental health counselors to assist people suffering from mental illness and addiction, or who need a professional’s help to get through difficult times in their lives.

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