Christine Szostak’s life is a remarkable example of true commitment to scholarship, and of finding one's calling.
Christine Szostak '00, Ph.D., studied three disciplines at Malone: Psychology, Elementary Education, and Special Education.
In that time, she says, the thing she most heavily gained was a strengthening of her faith.
“Because I had some very close friends and mentoring faculty that served as role models in the way they walked in their faith," she says. "I learned a great deal about what it means to be a Christian.”
Her commitment to scholarship found a safe haven in the academic community at Malone, specifically in the challenging coursework and emphasis of Christian values.
After graduation from Malone in 2000, Christine received an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in Fresno. It was then that she recognized that her true passion was in research while studying for the AIU degrees, and owing to the fact that training was focused on practice rather than research, she went back for another M.A. and Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from The Ohio State University.
In 2013, she finished her second doctorate, a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology, with a focus on research.
She is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Shorter University, a Christian University in Rome, Ga., and also offers consultation services for those coping with vision loss called Finding the Vision (http://findingthevision.wikidot.com). Christine has been visually impaired since birth.
"The biggest challenge I have faced is in finding innovative ways to succeed when highly visual material is involved,” she says.
Her field of study is in psycholinguistics, specifically, the psychology of language, which seeks to understand the mental processes that are involved in understanding spoken language. Much of psycholinguistics involves the measuring and manipulating of sound waves—a process which is primarily done visually. So, Christine has had to pioneer new methods that do not require vision.
Christine finds that one of the greatest things vision loss has afforded her is the ability to serve as an ambassador for those with vision loss.
“One of my primary goals is to help educate others that vision loss does not mean 'incapable,'" she says. "I have striven to show others that those with vision loss can do anything their sighted peer can do and to an equal degree.”
Throughout her impressive academic career, Christine says her Malone experience has continued to prove itself as a solid foundation for both higher learning and for life.
“The friendships in general that I made at Malone have also proved to be some of the strongest and longest lasting,” the scholar says.
Certainly, she will continue to inspire and spur on those who hear her incredible story.