RCSP and SURF scholar Herb ’22 finds her way back to Alvernia post-grad
Allison Herb began her academic career as a day-time student at the age of 31, after 12 years of employment at a credit union. She began her undergraduate degree as a psychology major at Reading Area Community College (RACC) and transferred to Alvernia University through Alvernia’s Reading Collegiate Transfer Scholarship.
As an adult day student learner who is also a single mom, Herb described this scholarship as one of the most memorable experiences that has opened many doors in her academic and professional career.
“It just circled back around, coincidentally ... I graduated, got my scholarship, and this was my internship position from when I was an Alvernia student, and now I am here again,” said Herb. “It is awesome.”
Herb was introduced to an internship opportunity through the Student Undergraduate Research Fellows (SURF) Program by professors who provided her with guidance throughout her time at Alvernia. She worked closely with Dr. Ana Ruiz during the first semester of her internship, which allowed her to discover her interest in the research side of psychology.
“I discovered this new love and passion for research,” said Herb.
She credits Ruiz for providing her and many other students with countless opportunities that helped shape this passion and her career.
“She loves to learn, she continuously challenges herself and is open to new experiences. That is how she discovered her interest in research. She has a good work ethic, an upbeat personality and strong morals,” said Ruiz. “She is a great model for other students for so many reasons but mainly because she personifies the Alvernia values of contemplation, collegiality, service, peacemaking and humility.”
This newfound love for research led Herb to her second internship with the Dawn Chorus Group (DCG). DCG is an applied research consultant group under entrepreneur, Jonathan Scaccia, principal of DCG and president of PubTrawlr, previously located at Alvernia’s John R. Post Center at Reading CollegeTowne in the O’Pake Institute’s Spark business incubator.
After graduating with her bachelor's degree in psychology from Alvernia in May of 2021, she was brought on full-time at DCG, where she worked virtually until September 2021 when Scaccia began renting space from the university until the fall of 2022 when they officially graduated from the business incubator. When Herb was able to work in person, she strengthened her skills and grew into her position. Currently, she does program evaluations for community-based organizations and conducts qualitative interviews to assess clients’ needs.
“I love getting to meet so many different people who are doing wonderful things for their communities, and just trying to create a more equitable world,” Herb stated, as she reflects on her experiences with clients at DCG. “There’s a lot public health-related projects that we work with, and a lot of focus on improving the health and wellbeing of people who live in more marginalized populations.”
Today, Herb is also taking classes virtually to obtain her master's degree in applied psychology at Shippensburg University. She discovered this opportunity through her connection to Dr. Di You, professor of psychology at Alvernia.
“It’s definitely to help advance my career here with the research and evaluation,” said Herb.
Her future with DCG involves using the skills and knowledge she has developed as a master’s degree candidate to gain more experience through hands-on work, strengthen her confidence to cast a wider net in prospective clientele and assume a lead role on future projects.
“Allison has been a tremendous asset to our work and the communities we serve — not because she always knows the answers, but because she is able to humbly ask the questions,” said Scaccia. “From my seat, that is one of the greatest skills community-based researchers can have, and it’s been amazing to see that skill kindle within Allison.”
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