Originally from Knoxville, Tenn., Ralph Eugene Cash always knew that he wanted to seek higher education and get a doctoral degree.
“Nobody in my family had even gone to college. A few had gone to high school but that was it,” said Cash. “My goal was always to get a doctorate in something.”
When Cash attended the University of Tennessee, he started off as a chemistry major, but he eventually realized that his true calling was psychology.
“One night, I was sitting in the chemistry lab and no one was interacting with anybody else. I thought ‘I don’t like this.’ So the next day I went and changed to a psychology major,” said Cash.
In 1968, Cash received his bachelor’s of science in psychology and applied for a full doctoral degree fellowship in New York University.
Cash applied for the fellowship not thinking anything would come of it. To his surprise, he was called for an interview.
“I got the interview and then realized that I had a problem,” said Cash. “I didn’t have any money so I didn’t know how I was going to get to New York.”
Cash knew he had to take advantage of this opportunity. He and his family piled into their old Pontiac, drove to New York, and stayed at the cheapest hotel. Thankfully, it all worked out and Cash was accepted to NYU’s school psychology doctorate program.
After receiving his doctorate, Cash moved to Florida and got a job with the Broward County School System as a school psychologist. In 1980, Cash went into private practice, working full-time with psychiatric groups and conducting evaluations in hospitals. He also directed competency testing in courts for child custody cases.
“Having my private practice was interesting,” said Cash. “It gave me tremendous amount of experience working with all kinds of people. It was difficult work, but I enjoyed it.”
After 23 years of working in private practice, Cash was given the opportunity to become a professor as NSU.
“I always wanted to teach. In private practice, I could help patients one at a time, but as a professor, I can convey ideas and information to students that will help them help many people,” said Cash.
Currently, Cash is an associate professor of psychology at NSU’s Center for Psychological Studies. He teaches integrated report writing, ethics in the law of psychology, and public policy advocacy courses.
Cash also directs the School Psychology Clinic at the center where he supervises practicum and postdoctoral students. Along with some of his colleagues, he is also involved in different research projects.
Cash said that there are many opportunities for students interested in psychology.
“Psychology is a very rewarding field,” said Cash. “Part of it has to do with what do you want to do with your life, and the other has to be realistic in the sense that you probably won’t become phenomenally wealthy, but you will earn a good living and help a lot of people.”