Priscilla Castro won the Outstanding Student Award in the Master of Arts in Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology program. A background in teaching martial arts sparked a love for facilitating positive change.
Priscilla Castro, a marketing manager for a construction engineering firm, came to GGU to pursue a professional interest that emerged organically. At work, she wears many hats including marketing, strategy, recruitment, and employee engagement. She also has a background in teaching martial arts and a passion for changing lives through teaching and coaching. As she met with departments about marketing strategy, Priscilla discovered that within departments existed enormous potential for employee development that could benefit individuals and the organization as a whole.
“A skill set I bring is the ability to talk to people,” said Priscilla. “People open up to me, and I started to see that there’s a whole component of listening to people and working with them as they strive to learn, develop, and improve.”
As she spoke with employees, she learned more about their knowledge, needs, and motivations. She recognized opportunities for training and staff development that would allow her organization to successfully retain their valuable employees. After researching graduate programs that would deepen her knowledge and skills in the area of employee engagement and development, she enrolled in GGU’s MA in I/O psychology program. She was drawn to the well-regarded professors and wanted to attend an accessible school located in the city. A full-time parent, Priscilla also knew that flexibility was essential.
MA in I/O Psychology
“Everything I learned at GGU resonated with the experience I have and what I was experiencing at my organization,” said Priscilla. “I felt infused every time I went to class. I just wanted to keep learning.”
Priscilla gained valuable insights into the dynamics that produce great teams including trust, collective decision-making, and accountability and how to strengthen those areas within herself and others. She learned how to engage in skillful conversations that can facilitate change and she acquired an array of tools for analyzing and approaching organizational problems in the workplace.
“I have a higher level of awareness and a new lens through which to view my organization. When making changes in one area to improve productivity and efficiency I now know how to understand other moving components,” reflected Priscilla.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my commitment to finishing the program (taking all classes in person) while working full time and raising my daughter in the process.
What courses have proven most valuable to you?
PSYCH 340 Group Dynamics (Professor Dan Clurman) was an excellent course in helping me understand the different theories and concepts related to group dynamics. What I found most valuable was examining the behavioral, psychological, and social-psychological dynamics of group behavior.
PSYCH 396 Coaching (Professor Dan Clurman) was one of my favorite courses. What I found most valuable was learning how to engage in skillful conversations, specifically asking thought-provoking questions, listening reflectively, and supporting and giving feedback to facilitate change.
PSYCH 341 Organization Behavior (Professor George Romanko) was another favorite. On the first day of class Professor Romanko introduced three guiding principles that resonated with me in relation to understanding human behavior in an organizational context: 1) Organizations change when people change. 2) People power organizations. 3) People are naturally curious for a better way.
PSYCH 342 Organization Development (Professor Pamela Hopkins) taught me a systems thinking approach to OD. This skill created a new lens that allowed me to capture greater complexity, looking beyond surface problems for the interrelationships that cause different patterns of behavior. Additionally, studying the various OD interventions and their appropriate use was also very valuable.
PSYCH 343 Leadership (Professor Jeffrey Yergler) was extremely valuable. I learned about leadership theories, models and research, and their application. This helped me to define the kind of leader that I want to be and to strive to continuously grow to be a better leader each day.
How do you think your education at GGU will help your career?
My education at GGU has provided me with additional tools, resources and confidence to continue growing my career. Most of all, it has reaffirmed my interest and passion in studying and understand human behavior in the workplace.
What are your career ambitions for the future?
My career ambitions for the future are to successfully lead initiatives that address human and organizational problems in the workplace. I also hope to attain a coaching certification.