James Madison University

David Szwedo, Ph.D. Is Bringing His Passion to JMU

By Deirdre E. Myers

PHOTO: David SzwedoDr. David Szwedo will be joining the faculty of the JMU Psychology Department in the Spring 2014 semester.  He says that for a long time he has had JMU on his radar. “I have long been familiar with the excellent national reputation JMU has for undergraduate education,” he explains. He is currently completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Medical University of South Carolina after earning his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Virginia. Having been just “down the road” when he completed his degree, Dr. Szwedo is looking forward to coming back to Virginia, this time on the other side of the classroom.

Dr. Szwedo’s primary responsibility at JMU will be to promote, supervise and enhance the Psychology Field Placement Program, our four-credit capstone class offered to JMU Psychology majors who may be selected to work on-site in places where they can apply what they have learned in their psychology classes. The Field Placement Program (Psyc 495) includes a weekly seminar, individual supervision and 150 hours of service learning competed at placement locations.

He is excited to be a part of undergraduate students’ early real-world experiences in psychology. “I did not have any opportunity like this as an undergraduate student and think it is wonderful that JMU students are able to work with different organizations before deciding to pursue a career path” he says about the program. It seems that the Field Placement Program will benefit from having someone who is as passionate as Dr. Szwedo is about helping students to find the placement program that best matches their interests in psychology and their skills in the field.

Dr. Szwedo completed with many applicants for this faculty position.  While JMU faculty used the interview process to decide which candidate was most appropriate for our position, Dr. Szwedo says that the interview process allowed him to to gauge whether the position would be a good match for him. He says that during his visit, he found that the accomplishments of the students were impressive, adding that their curiosity for learning was evident. He says that he was also impressed by how invested the Psychology Department faculty are in supporting students’ and colleagues’ success.  He determined that JMU was the place for him.

In addition to coordinating the Field Placement Program, Dr. Szwedo will also be teaching classes that are related to his degree, in the domains of clinical and counseling psychology. He hopes to be able to explore other interests through his courses as well. For example, he is interested in bringing a seminar on romantic relationships to JMU.

Dr. Szwedo conducts research related to adolescent development, including a focus on the changing role of social media communication on human relationships.   Dr. Szwedo is also excited about the prospect of continuing his research at James Madison. He is looking forward to working with students on his continued research to understand the connection between online social communication and psychological wellbeing in adolescents and young adults. Additionally, he plans to expand his study of young adult romantic relationships and the factors that make these relationships satisfying or detrimental to those involved.

The psychology faculty anxiously await Dr. Szwedo’s arrival at JMU.  With his exciting research topics and passion for learning and teaching, Dr. Szwedo will be a wonderful addition to our community.