Dear Students,
 
I was hoping to send you off on winter break with light-hearted remarks about a popular meme and its relationship to research in organizational psychology and the world of work. But then I learned of the murder of Tessa Majors, an 18-year-old Barnard student from Virginia.
 
I don't have adequate words to express my sadness over this senseless tragedy. Tessa was a part our Columbia family. In a widely published photo of her, I can't help but see all of your faces. I see a smart, motivated, hard-working, and talented young person who sought out new experiences and new friends here in NYC. I ache for her family's loss and for the pain and fear I know many of you are now feeling in the wake of this tragedy.
 
When I learned about Tessa's alleged attackers, my heart broke again. Two of the suspects are 13 and 14 years old. They evidently live and attend school near Morningside Park, where the murder was committed. These children, too, are part of our community.
 
I do not know how to sort out my feelings of anguish over Tessa's murder, nor can I fathom the circumstances that led her attackers to commit it. I do know that it has helped these past days to share thoughts and feelings with students, staff, and faculty members. It has helped to reach out rather than to withdraw, to acknowledge sadness and disbelief rather than to retreat into stunned silence.
 
As a 28-year resident of Manhattan, I have numerous examples of New Yorkers' goodness. It helps me to remember that New York City offers itself up daily as a revelation -- in its energy, diversity, and opportunity, and in the kindness of its people. When bad things happen in our city, our city responds with compassion, sympathy, and love.
 
In the wake of this tragedy, in the darkness of December, I hope we all can find lightness and hope in our care for each other, in our shared study and work, in our community's goodness.
 
Please know that I speak for all the Social-Organizational Psychology program faculty and staff when I tell you we are holding you close, we are wishing you a relaxing and joy-filled winter break, and we look forward to greeting 2020 with energy and optimism for the work we will continue together in the new year.
 
Happy holidays to you all.
 

Warmly,

Sarah Brazaitis, PhD
MA Program Director

 

Current Student Profile

Frenchie Ferenczi is excited by the idea that customer happiness is driven by employee happiness. A hospitality veteran, Frenchie has spent her career defining and designing guest experiences. Empathy and compassion for employees are qualities that are generally undervalued or dismissed in the hospitality industry; Frenchie strongly believes that this paradigm needs to be redefined. With this in mind, she joined the M.A. program as a part-time student in Fall 2018, with the goal of unlocking the keys to employee happiness that define and support the customer experience. 
 
Currently, Frenchie is the Director of Community at The Wing, a network of coworking and community spaces designed for women.  Previously she led programming and events at The William Vale, a hotel in Williamsburg, and before that she was part of the opening team at NeueHouse, a membership-driven coworking space for folks in creative industries.  It was her first job as a restaurant manager that ignited her passion for hospitality and experience design, and that set her on the path she is on now.
 

When Frenchie is not at work or school, she can be found spending time with her husband, Salvatore, and their two-and-a-half month old baby, Luca. You can connect with Frenchie via LinkedIn or email.

Alumni Profile

Greg Alongi is a 2015 graduate of the M.A. Program and now works at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) in New York. In his current role as a Talent Development consultant, he spends most of his time designing and facilitating leadership development courses open to all staff at MSK. The patients and their families are all going through a challenging time in their lives, and every employee at MSK has an impact on them in some shape or form. Greg gets to work with and support a range of employees, from the person who greets patients at the door to the nurses who care for them daily, to the researchers who are finding ways to better treat them.
 
It is both a rewarding and challenging place to work, and Greg has found that being inspired by an organization's mission is critical. In addition to his work in the classroom, he also gets to coach leaders through the organization and do some process consultation work throughout the year. The executive coaching, adult learning, and group dynamics classes at TC were a major foundation for the work he does today.
 

In his spare time, Greg tries to squeeze in many hobbies, which include writing music, photo restoration, reading, sports, and when his brain and body are tapped out, TV, movies, and video games.

Recommended Readings

In the spirit of winter "break," here are recommendations for podcasts rather than more readings. :)

Entry Level with Brooks Wheelan: This funny and entertaining podcast discusses guests' experiences with entry-level jobs before they landed where they wanted to in the world of work.
 
Code Switch: This podcast from NPR features stories on race, culture and identity directly and honestly, but always in an empathetic way.
 
Slow Radio: This podcast from the BBC offers 15-60 minutes of relaxing sounds from the natural world. It is strangely compelling and is very calming.
 
As with all of these recommendations, feel free to let me know what you think and/or to offer your own suggestions for possible inclusion in upcoming newsletters. I welcome your input.