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Meet the Class of 2011: Rasheda L. Simpson

May 10, 2011

Rasheda L. Simpson

This is the second in a series of profiles of Lehman College 2011 graduates.

Despite a two-hour commute from Rosedale in Queens to the Bronx, psychology major Rasheda L. Simpson wouldn't have attended any other school. She follows in the path of her three cousins, who all received their nursing degrees from Lehman. As she prepares to begin her master's program in human development and social intervention at NYU's Steinhardt School this fall, she can look back at the opportunities she found at Lehman.

Simpson is a Lehman Presidential Scholar, Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Scholar, a member of Golden Key International Honour Society, co-vice president of the Lehman chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, and co-creator and editor of Psi Chi's newsletter, The Psi Chi Connection. She says the master's degree will bring her closer to her ultimate goal of helping people who have dealt with adversity.

"Growing up, I saw so many children my age go through such horrible situations that led them into the wrong path," says Simpson, who was raised in the Parkchester section of the Bronx. "The master's program will prepare me to research ways to lessen the effects of traumatic experiences on the overall development of those in impoverished and crime-ridden communities."

Volunteerism has been very important to Simpson, who recently received two awards for excellence in civic engagement from Lehman's Department of Service Learning and New Student Orientation. She has traveled with her fellow Lehman students to New Orleans to help build homes for victims of Hurricane Katrina and also to Cincinnati to work with the Coalition for the Homeless, where she helped out in soup kitchens, food banks, churches and in a neighborhood clean-up initiative program.

Simpson will return to New Orleans over the summer to help construct another house and to learn about more ways that she can assist New Orleans in its revitalization. "My ultimate dream is to own my own community center in the Bronx, where I can implement ways to support positive and sustainable community development," she says.

Simpson also had the opportunity to travel outside the United States for the first time. In 2010, she took part in the study-abroad program to Italy, where she says she got a true "feeling of independence."Building on her desire to explore life beyond the city where she was raised, Simpson had been looking for graduate programs anywhere but in New York City. Her graduate adviser at Lehman, however, made her aware of the NYU program. "My graduate advisor helped me figure out what I really wanted to do and that NYU was the perfect place to do it,"she says. "I didn't even know that community psychology existed."

Simpson says her favorite part of her Lehman experience was the support she received from her professors and from Amanda Dubois, coordinator of community service/service learning, as well as the beauty of the campus. After completing her master's, she hopes to continue her studies at NYU and earn a Ph.D. in psychology and social intervention.