York Psychology Major Scores Impressive Internships

York College, CUNY student Ariel Rosario is going places thanks to his commitment to excellence, dedicated faculty and nurturing parents.

The graduating senior has already interned at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and at Ivy League Universities.

“At York, I developed a dream,” he said. “And the [college] supported my dream.  I am a by-product of the support and guidance of the whole Psychology department. All of the faculty members are amazing people. I was lucky to have found York College and the Psychology department.” 

Rosario is a go-getter who researches experts in his field of interest then makes direct contact to ask for mentorship opportunities.  It was what led the audacious undergraduate to contact Dr. Marvin Chun, an expert in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in the Psychology department at Yale University.

He was mentored at the university last summer by both Dr. Chun and his post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Marc Coutanche, who employs methods of cognitive neuroscience “to understand how the human brain learns and stores knowledge, and how new knowledge influences other cognitive systems.” Coutanche is now a professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

“It was one of – if not the greatest—experiences of my life,” said Rosario, whose research interest includes fast mapping, a learning condition comparing two objects; as well as how morality and motivation impacts cognition and the brain. I feel that having a purpose in life is one of the greatest things in the world.”

Based on his research, Rosario also did two oral presentations, one at Yale University, the other at the Leadership Alliance’s national symposium in Connecticut.  He is currently researching morality at New York University (NYU); and motivation impacts on one’s views on reality, at Columbia University.

 “If you believe [that] you are special [then] special things will happen to you,” said Rosario, who grew up and still lives in the Bedford Stuyvesant projects.  “What I notice is that a lot of people don’t [pursue] higher education because they don’t believe they can. But everyone is special and everyone has a duty to make the world better once they discover their talent.”

Rosario credits much of his success to his mother, Caroline Cardona-Cruz

, and his step-father (the man he considers his father) Anthony Cruz.

“I have always looked up to my step-dad who loves me,” he said. “The best thing he’s ever told me is that I can do anything in the world. I took those words and ran with it because my daddy told me I could do it, even though I grew up in the ‘hood. I’m lucky to have two parents who are in my life. Many don’t have any.”

Rosario seems to have always been an observant wise-beyond-his-years youngster in possession of a scientist’s mind and a poet’s heart.

“When I was eight or nine I saw a single rose growing out of the concrete on the sidewalk,” he recalled. “Like me, it just seemed out of place. But I thought, ‘This is just like me. It doesn’t belong in this spot, but if a rose can grow here so can I.’”

Dr. Donna Chirico, dean of York’s School of Arts and Sciences and former chair of the Psychology department, has high expectation for her student.

Ariel is that rare student who comes into college with a level of maturity and sensitivity that is not typical for younger undergraduate students,” said Dr. Chirico.  “He not only understands that he must work hard in his studies to succeed, he appreciates that there is an interpersonal component of achievement. Ariel has built relationships with faculty, staff and students that allow him to progress, but also immediately gives back to his classmates, the department and the college.”

Now studying for the GREs, Rosario’s dream graduate schools are Columbia University, New York University and Stanford University.

Chirico sees nothing but success for Rosario.

“It is easy to see that he will be a diligent graduate student and someone that the profession of psychology will welcome into its midst,” said Dr. Chirico, whose areas of expertise includes Development of Transcendent Imagination.