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Delta State Graduates Its First Student in Applied Psychology of Industry Certificate Program

At Delta State University’s December 2018 commencement, Lamar Savage became the first graduate from the Applied Psychology of Industry Certificate Program. This was a double honor for Savage because Delta State is the only university in the region to offer this option. The Division of Counselor Education and Psychology launched it in fall 2017.

“When people hear the word ‘psychology,’ they often immediately think of careers in mental health, such as counseling. However, many psychologists work in the business sector,” said Jon Westfall, assistant professor and program coordinator of psychology in the Division of Counselor Education and Psychology. “Psychology students in the program work with a faculty adviser to choose classes that give them the skills they need to apply psychology in industry. This includes applications in marketing, management, human factors engineering/ergonomics, decision sciences, and business analytics. The certificate provides an excellent opportunity to explore those areas, whether the student plans to enter the workforce directly in management, marketing, business analytics, decision science/public policy, or human factors/design, or pursue graduate education in those areas.”

Savage, a psychology major from Grenada, focused his honors thesis, “Can an Oppressed People Self Actualize in the System of Their Oppressor?” on the intersection of psychology and consumer behavior, specifically the promotion of “self-actualization tokens” to minorities: tying psychological well-being to mass-market objects (e.g., flashy watches, expensive shoes), Westfall explained. Savage also created a corresponding PSA-style commercial, imploring minorities to “own it” rather than simply buy it.

“I felt that the issues African-Americans face daily need to be talked about from different angles,” said Savage, who hopes to form a nonprofit organization. “Psychology has allowed me to truly take a more precise look of [how] the mind works and how certain stimuli can affect outcome. That’s one of the main reasons I chose psychology—I wanted to know how certain actions were triggered by the environment surrounding an individual.”

“We are very proud of Lamar for being the first psychology student to complete the applied psychology of industry certificate,” said Sally Zengaro, associate professor and chair of the Division of Counselor Education and Psychology. “The certificate is unique in the field of psychology and highlights the application of psychology to business contexts. Lamar is a great student, and I admire his determination to challenge himself with this area of study.”

Because Delta State is the only school in the region to offer the certificate program, participants set themselves apart from the competition. “This distinguishes our graduates from the moment an employer sees it on their resume,” Westfall said. “It leads to a dialogue with an employer that other students will have to work harder to establish.”

The Division of Counselor Education and Psychology also offers a B.A. in psychology, an M.Ed. in counseling, and an Ed.S. in counseling.