Thursday, June 20, 2024

Childhood passion becomes reality

Grace Jividen spends countless hours at Plattsburgh State’s Beaumont Hall researching neuropsychology and cognitive psychology. Analyzing and scoring data, conducting detailed experiments and developing a thesis of her own, Jividen is facing the world of psychology head on while still finding time to help others in the community through the Shine On! program and as a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority.

Growing up in the small village suburb of Spencerport, outside of Rochester, Jividen spent her time in high school involved in student government, serving as class secretary for four years. She also served on student council and other committees in her school.

Coming from a long family line of PSUC alumni, Jividen admittedly envisioned herself attending a private college. However, she said PSUC seemed like a “good deal.”

Jividen’s maternal grandmother, mother and father all attended PSUC. Her grandmother studied nursing in the class of 1964. Her mother was a communications major in the class of 1989, and her father was a biology major in the class of 1988.

As a freshman in 2012, Jividen originally planned to study in the nursing program. She soon decided to declare a major in psychology with a minor in biology. She said she has always had an interest in understanding people and why they do the things they do.

Since the age of 12, Jividen said she knew she would be a psychiatrist one day.

“I’ve always had it in the back of my head,” Jividen said of studying psychology.

Since joining the psychology program, Jividen has worked as a teaching assistant, gained internship experience at the Champlain Valley Physician’s Hospital in the Adult Mental Health wing and is even conducting field work and research of her own.

Under Jessica Paxton, a psychology professor at PSUC, Jividen found her calling in the field of Neuropsychology. Starting as a teacher’s assistant to Paxton, Jividen is now conducting her own research alongside her professor for her thesis study. She said Paxton has “opened my eyes” to the field of psychology and all of the possibilities.

Paxton said Jividen’s thesis study is remarkable, which she developed herself, and focuses on Cognitive Fatigue and critical thinking. Jividen studies the effects of mental exhaustion, sleeping habits, workload and how it affects cognitive efficiency. The thesis also raises questions on fatigue in college students as well as their performance of cognitive tasks. Paxton said Jividen is a “diligent and determined” student who always takes initiative and looks deeply into questions and problems in the field.

Jividen’s thesis research involves a process of collecting data from participants via a computer program, as well as scoring data and interpreting it into statistical presentations. The computer data will measure cognitive tasks while the rest of the gathered information will be represented by surveys and scales.

“She helps us all continue growing,” Paxton said. “She does what she says she is going to do and even goes above and beyond.”

She also credits Jividen for teaching her new things as well.

“I get to move in a new direction because of her,” Paxton said.

Aside from Paxton, Jividen credits her family and friends for influencing her and pushing her to succeed. Jividen said Noelle Palumbo and Nick Cavaliere were her first friends at PSUC, starting after Jividen and Palumbo were neighbors their freshman year.

She said both friends are wonderful human beings who encouraged her to break out of her shell by making the transition to college life easier and helping her to experience new things.

At first intimidated by Palumbo, Jividen now said she “could not picture my life without her.”

“Grace is the gravy to my mashed potatoes,” Palumbo said, noting that “Gravy” has since been adopted as a nickname.

“Her name, Grace, always auto corrects in our phones to ‘Grave,’ so we all just call her ‘Gravy’ now.

“We always have fun together. We have fantastic conversations on anything. Grace is a fantastic conversationalist,” Palumbo said. “She is just an amazing human being and someone I can really count on.”

Of Jividen’s work and educational efforts, Palumbo said, “Grace is one of the most well put-together and driven people. She’s accomplished a lot.”

Aside from an elaborate psychology thesis, Jividen is also involved in several organizations on campus. She works in the library as a digital commons student assistant, where she is responsible for organizing media and internet files of events, news and other important information from PSUC. Since joining Alpha Epsilon Phi in fall 2014, Jividen said that her sisters have been an important part of her college experience as well.

Jividen is also part of the planning committee for the organization PSUC Shine On! .

“We are an organization that seeks to foster resilience, confidence and media literacy in young girls,” Jividen said.

“We are a preventive program, which is why we target girls from third to fifth grade to reach them with our message before they get to the challenges of middle school and high school.”

As a member of the planning committee, Jividen is responsible for a list of duties.

“Our main event is a weekend conference every April where 200 girls get to attend workshops on our values and have a giant sleepover.”
Jividen helps plan and coordinate the conference.

“We recruit mentors, and we reach out to sponsors and local businesses, we create the workshops, and of course we make sure the community and schools in the area know the conference is happening so girls can sign up,” she said.

Looking into the future, Jividen has several options to consider in moving forward. While looking into various graduate school programs such as neuropsychology and cognitive psychology research, she is also considering a masters of social work program, which would include either public administration or public health courses. She is also researching the idea of working toward earning a PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology, although he admits the idea is intimidating and is considering taking a year off from school to gain experience in the real world.

As for her time at PSUC, Jividen said, “everything is in reach here. I’ve come to love it quite a bit.”

Email Marissa Russo at

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