Sarah Valley-Gray, associate professor in the Center for Psychological Studies, was always interested in the field of science and initially thought of going into the medical or dental field. It wasn’t until she was a student at the University of Miami that she realized her interest in psychology.
“Every time that there was a spring or Christmas break, I would read all my psychology books,” she said. “It dawned on me that there was something to it and I decided on psychology.”
In 1983, Valley-Gray graduated from UM with a bachelor’s in psychology. From there, she wasn’t exactly sure what branch of psychology she wanted to focus on but knew that, eventually, she wanted to get a doctorate degree.
While contemplating future plans, Valley-Gray took a year and a half off to teach third grade at North Carol City Elementary School and seventh grade at Miami Lakes Middle School.
“I had always liked working with children, and so that’s why teaching was the opportunity for me to continue to work with kids while I figured out what I wanted to do,” said Valley-Gray.
While working as a teacher, Valley-Grey enrolled in the psychology center at NSU and in 1993 received her doctorate degree in clinical psychology.
After graduation, Valley-Gray worked with autistic students and students who had suffered traumatic brain injuries, as a school psychologist for the Miami-Dade public school system.
“It is wonderful when you work in the school system because you have the opportunity to work with every type of kid from every background,” said Valley-Gray. “Schools are the place that every kid has to go. It is theplace where you can really make a difference in the child’s life.”
After working in the school system for five years, Valley-Gray returned to NSU to receive post-doctoral training in neuropsychology. Then, in 1999, a faculty position opened up for someone with experience working in a school and clinical psychology background. Valley-Gray applied and has been teaching at NSU ever since.
She especially likes the diversity of NSU’s programs.
“From a faculty perspective, it’s the most wonderful thing to know you have colleagues who are experts in all the different areas that you can consult with or work with on different projects at the psychology center,” said Valley-Gray.
Valley-Gray teaches courses in intellectual assessment, counseling, and information teaching and administration. She’s also involved with the Psychology Professional Association at both the state and national level.
In 2001, Valley-Gray led the program for special development in school psychology at the Center for Psychological Studies, which led to the launch of the doctoral program in school psychology in 2011. Through this program, students have been able to take advantage of practical experiences and internships available in the South Florida public school system.
“I think, for any student applying for a graduate position, our psychology department is an incredible place because they get the opportunity to learn from people with such expertise,” said Valley-Gray. “There are people in our department who have the expertise to mentor, supervise and support them. This is unique because there is no other place in this country that offers that.”