by Gwendolyn Schanker, Journalism and Biology, 2018
Gabriela Aisenberg, fourth-year senior psychology major, loves working with people.
“My interest in pscyh stemmed from wanting to help people,” Aisenberg said. “I just didn’t know in what capacity.”
It’s no coincidence that every aspect of Aisenberg’s college life depends on spending time with others. As a psychology research assistant, she’s studied anxiety and emotional disorders through a co-op at Boston University. As the psychology representative for the Undergraduate Student Advisory Council (USAC), she advises George Alverson, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs, on mentoring programs in the College of Science. And as a resident assistant, she works with students to create a mentally and physically healthy college environment.
Aisenberg, a first generation American whose family is from Argentina, grew up in New York City. A natural born singer, she started a career in performance arts early – by doing music and voiceovers for Nickelodeon shows “Dora the Explorer” and “Go, Diego, Go!” in both English and Spanish. Throughout high school, she studied classical voice as a soprano at The Juilliard School and attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts.
When it came time to decide on a college, Aisenberg decided to leave New York and pursue another of her passions: psychology.
“I’d been reading Psychology Today since middle school,” she said. “I wanted my own city – a place where I could be close to home but still grow up.”
At Northeastern, Aisenberg’s interest in psychology has continued to develop through her classes – she is pursuing a minor in behavioral neuroscience in addition to a major in psychology – her extracurricular activities – she is a member of the Psychology Honors Society, Psi Chi, as well as the Neuroscience Honors Society, Nu Rho Psi – and a junior year co-op at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD) at Boston University.
CARD is a clinical and research center that works to help people of all ages address a range of anxiety disorders and the challenges they cause. During her co-op, which was unpaid but supported by a COS scholarship, Aisenberg worked with Doctor David Barlow, a leading anxiety researcher who has published more than 500 scholarly articles and wrote the textbook for Aisenberg’s abnormal psychology course.
In addition to working with people like Barlow and building her research skills, Aisenberg’s co-op at CARD also helped her to become directly involved with one of today’s most important issues: anxiety.
“When you’re a college student, you’re at a critical period to deal with anxiety,” she said. “If you ignore a mental health issue, it could be indicative of something worse.”
Aisenberg’s passion for creating a mentally healthy college environment is expressed in her activities as an RA. She recently ran a program to call attention to the issue of high-functioning depression called “Donut Stress,” where she handed out donuts as well as sleep masks, pedometers, resources and pamphlets from UHCS and had an open discussion with students about depression and suicide.
“I try to bring these issues to the surface without being too intense about it,” she said. “The goal is to always keep the conversation open.”
In her role in the Undergraduate Student Advisory Council, Aisenberg discusses ways to improve the psychology major through monthly meetings with Dean Alverson and a group of COS students.
“The goal is to create a platform for outreach in the major,” she said. “It’s fun to be part of creating what that will look like.”
Aisenberg is currently looking for tickets to travel around the world after graduation, but also has plans to apply to graduate school. However, she also misses her music career. “I’m craving music,” she said. “I want to do more than play my ukulele in my room.”
Whatever she decides to do after graduation, Aisenberg has found her Northeastern experience to be invaluable. She credits her classes and co-op experience as well as regular meetings with her advisor, Assistant Teaching Professor Dawn Cisewski, who first introduced her to Doctor Barlow’s work in abnormal psychology class.
“Professor Cisewski encouraged me to pursue my interest in psychology research, particularly Doctor Barlow’s work,” Aisenberg said. “Her mentorship has been invaluable.”
Among numerous accolades from her professors and peers, Aisenberg is a recipient of this year’s Citizen Scholar Award, which recognizes outstanding academic achievement and exceptional contributions to the Department of Psychology and wider university community.
Do you have a question or comment for the Undergraduate Student Advisory Council for the College of Science? Email Gabriela at firstname.lastname@example.org or next year’s USAC representative, Cord Edward Meyer, at email@example.com.