Dr. Loretta Carle Brady

Alumni >> Noteworthy Alumni

Dr. Loretta Carle Brady,

alumnus of the McNair Graduate Opportunity Program at the University of New Hampshire

2007 - I was born and raised in southern NH to a single teenaged mother and a father who had recently immigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic. I lived with my mother until the age of four and then moved in with my biological grandfather and step-grandmother. For seven years I lived a middle class lifestyle, attending schools in a suburban setting, until my mother resumed full time custody of me and my baby sister and moved us in with her abusive boyfriend. After four years my mother fled her partner and we moved three more times in a six month period. When I was in 8th grade we moved to Manchester and lived for four years with my mother’s new husband until he was incarcerated for a DUI violation and we were forced out of our home. When my mother began dating another addicted and abusive man, I moved into a rooming house for women where I trained and worked as a Certified Nurses Aide, and by my sophomore year in high school decided to pursue a college degree.

I attended Saint Anselm College and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. As an undergraduate, I volunteered in the New Hampshire State Prison for Women and saw so many similarities between the experiences of the inmates and my own that I decided to focus on a career that addressed their needs and challenges. By the end of my junior year in college I had decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, a degree I imagined would provide me the chance to perform psychotherapy while also engaging in teaching and research about women’s issues.

My undergraduate mentor encouraged me to apply to the McNair Graduate Opportunity Program at UNH and in 1998 I was selected to be a fellow. During the 10-week summer fellowship, I worked with Dr. Suzanne McMurphy to design and execute a needs assessment of New Hampshire’s paroled mothers. My project, along with data from my college senior thesis, was later a key component to a 2005 study of the state of female offenders in New Hampshire (“Double Jeopardy, “ a report by the NH Commission on the Status of Women). This report and the data my projects generated are now shaping public policy on the needs of female offenders.

Aside from the wide impact the research had, McNair was instrumental in my ability to gain admittance to a top graduate program in Clinical Psychology, a field that is more competitive than medical school admissions. In 1999, I was one of eleven students from a pool of more than 350 applicants admitted to Fordham University’s doctoral program in Clinical Psychology. The key to my admission was the mentoring, advising, and instruction (especially for the GRE) I received through McNair. McNair’s advising component assisted me in drafting a stellar personal statement and organizing application materials. The opportunity to present my data in front of peers and fellow researchers gave me an advantage when later that fall I had the chance to present on an expansion of the project. McNair had an enormous impact academically and professionally, helping me feel prepared once I started classes in my graduate program.

The intangible benefits that I still celebrate are the relationships McNair allowed me to build. Living in New Hampshire limits one’s experience with diversity, and as a mixed race child I often was “diversity” in my classrooms. My summer at McNair exposed me to other students with similar bi-racial experiences, and most importantly normalized the impact class status had on feelings of competence and worth in an academic setting. Being poor makes you different from others in academia. When I attended Fordham with students whose parents made more money than my school district’s budget I didn’t have to feel completely isolated because I had a network of McNair contacts that knew what it felt like to be juggling my needs for a stipend with my family’s needs for extra income.

Finally, the stipend and housing that the fellowship provided were essential in enabling me to participate in this important program. If I had to work that summer to pay my rent, I never would have been able to complete the project or make such headway on my applications. All the benefits of the fellowship were instrumental in setting me up for the successful career I have developed. I received my Ph.D. from Fordham in 2006 and am currently in a tenure track position as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at St. Anselm’s College. I remain a vigorous supporter of the McNair Graduate Opportunity Program and have had the great fortune of encouraging more students to pursue this opportunity for themselves.