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Mount Made: Self-Esteem Rising


Mount Alumna on a Mission to Serve

Positive self-esteem and a commitment to human dignity are qualities that Amy Fox ’15 believes are indispensable to the human experience—something that was nurtured in her during her time as an undergraduate student at Mount Saint Vincent.

Amy was involved in almost every area of academic and student life during her time on campus, dedicating time to grow and develop her skills as a scholar, leader, and friend both within and beyond the classroom. She graduated summa cum laude—top of her class—and received the Terence Cardinal Cooke Memorial Award for Academic Excellence at the 103rd Annual Commencement.

Amy and her friends at graduation

Amy and her fellow classmates at the Mount’s graduation ceremony in 2015.

As an undergraduate, Amy had the opportunity to work as a research assistant under Associate Professor of Psychology Daniel Hrubes. As part of a research team, Amy and her peers assisted Dr. Hrubes with various stages of a study examining deception. The group even had the opportunity to present their research at the 2014 Eastern Psychological Association conference—something unique to the Mount experience. It’s a rare opportunity for undergraduates across the country to present research at major academic conferences—but at the Mount—countless students accompany professors to conferences each year.

“I was able to build strong, intimate relationships with professors and mentors who helped me and guided me in making vital decisions and supported me in many of my professional achievements,” said Amy.

Outside the classroom, Amy was an involved member of the Psychology Club and worked on campus as both a Dolphin Dialer—calling and connecting with alumnae/i across the country—and as an event staff worker for the Department of Athletics and Recreation. And she could always be found in the stands cheering on her friends and classmates at Dolphin sporting events or attending club events and activities!

Yet, the most influential program Amy participated in while at the Mount was the Seton Service and Leadership Program (SSLP). The SSLP is a four-year full room and board scholarship sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of New York and awarded to students who show dedication and promise in the areas of academics, service, and leadership. Students in the SSLP mentor each other both as individuals and as a cohort, serve at various ministries both in New York City and across the country, and spend time in weekly reflective gatherings.

Amy and COVID

Amy continues to live out the mission of the SSLP today—delivering care packages from Self-Esteem Rising with her roommate from the Mount, Jessica Costa ’15, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

And it was through the SSLP that Amy found her passion for social work.

“Volunteering as a member of the SSLP helped deepen my commitment to service and led me into the field of social work,” explained Amy. “Participating in service further taught me the incredible impact one person can make on another person’s life. I carry this lesson with me throughout my career as a social worker, but also in my life as a sister, daughter, friend, girlfriend, and even as a stranger to someone.”

It’s difficult to imagine that Amy had any free time among the plethora of activities she participated in at Mount Saint Vincent, but even with her full plate she managed to graduate a semester early—as valedictorian. Wanting to further pursue her dream of becoming a licensed social worker, Amy took a risk and applied for an accelerated social work program at the Silberman School of Social Work at CUNY Hunter College at only 21 years old—and got in. After a year and a half of study, Amy graduated and received her certification as a Licensed Master Social Worker.

Amy at her graduation

Amy at the 2016 Hunter College commencement ceremony after receiving her MSW.

Amy’s had many positions during her first few years on the job. She began her career in a social adult day program on Long Island—where she held her first masters-level internship. After some time, she moved on to work in a residential school in Ozone Park where she supported boys aged 13 to 21 who are classified as having emotional disturbance. From there, she worked as a school-based therapist in a New York City public elementary school in Far Rockaway until she was offered a position as a school social worker in an elementary charter school in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx.

All of these steps in Amy’s career helped her gain experience and prepared her for her current position as a school social worker for the New York City Department of Education at an elementary school in Jamaica, Queens—a position she’s held since November 2019.

A typical day for Amy is often unpredictable. Her work requires plenty of patience, flexibility, empathy, and energy—and though it’s never dull, it’s always rewarding.

She arrives at school early with a coffee in hand each day to prepare for counseling sessions and team meetings. Once the bell rings, Amy greets students as they enter the building—observing any concerns she might see and offering extra love to any student who might need a little help to start the morning. She then spends the day providing individual and group counseling sessions to students in need of support, developing curricula for school-wide socio-emotional learning, and implementing crisis management strategies for any emergencies that may occur throughout the day.

“My favorite part of my job is building strong relationships with students and families and supporting them to be safe, independent, happy, and confident. After listening, learning, and understanding, I can help connect them to resources and teach them the necessary life skills needed to reach their fullest potential.”

When reflecting on her decision to study psychology and aspirations to pursue a career as a social worker, Amy remembers the stigma she faced as a middle-schooler battling idiopathic scoliosis; she was not always the confident and optimistic young woman she is today.

Amy was embarrassed when she found out her condition required her to wear a custom-made brace to school each day—sparking feelings of shame and anger. And instead of seeking psychological help or assistance in coping, Amy bottled up her emotions and engaged in escape behaviors.

But a few years later, Amy was introduced to the Hance Family Foundation.

After Warren and Jackie Hance lost their three young daughters, Emma, Alyson, and Katie, in a tragic car accident in 2009, they chose to create a lasting legacy in honor of their beautiful girls who exuded confidence and kindness in their daily lives. The Foundation, with roots in Amy’s hometown of Floral Park, Long Island, provides scholarships and educational workshops for young girls from elementary school through college.

The skills Amy learned as a participant in several Hance Family Foundation workshops helped her build the confidence she needed to overcome her battle with negative self-esteem.

Amy became more actively involved with the Hance Family Foundation while at the Mount. In February 2014, she organized a workshop to bring the Foundation’s flagship Self-Esteem Rising Program, Beautiful Me, to students at the College. Over 40 Mount females participated in the workshop—including Amy and her roommate—and they left feeling empowered while learning strategies that promoted self-esteem and positive body awareness. Amy now serves as a consultant with the Hance Family Foundation’s Self-Esteem Rising Leaders.

Amy and beautiful me

Each year, Amy volunteers at the Hance Family Foundation’s Annual Toy Drive. In December 2019, the organization partnered with the NYPD to bring toys to children living in poverty.

Amy believes her time at Mount Saint Vincent not only had a strong influence on her success, but the support she received from faculty and staff launched her into her career. She, without a doubt, flourished as a student and as a leader because of the Mount’s small class sizes, professors’ ample office hours, and the availability of internship and career development opportunities.

“I’ve come to realize that education is more than just academic knowledge—it’s holistic,” described Amy. “Since my time at the Mount, I’ve been grounded in the motto ‘Teach me goodness and discipline and knowledge.’ I’ve taken that quote with me throughout my career and my belief in educating the whole person—intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically—while respecting the dignity and diversity of all my students.”

When asked about her favorite part of her Mount experience, Amy didn’t hesitate to describe the beauty she was surrounded by each day she spent on campus.

“The views were phenomenal, the people were irreplaceable, and the energy was indescribable,” reflected Amy. “It was an amazing feeling to walk outside each day and be greeted with the beauty of the Hudson River, but it was even more amazing to be supported by dedicated, caring, and compassionate students and staff.”

Amy and her boyfriend posing

Amy and her boyfriend (and fellow alum!), Michael Knott ’13, enjoy spending time in Rockaway Beach.

The power of a Mount Saint Vincent education is exceptional. As an active alumna, Amy is beyond grateful for her time on campus—and she carries the lessons she learned as a student with her in every step of her journey.

“My education, service experiences, and the relationships I formed at the College helped me in obtaining my goal of becoming a social worker and finding a career I am passionate about. I wouldn’t be where I am without Mount Saint Vincent and the support I received during my four years there. After all, they say all dreams are welcome at the Mount—and I found mine.”

Are you Mount Made? Do you know other alums carrying out the mission of the College? Let us know—we’d love to share how the Mount helped launch your career. Contact us to be featured!

About the University of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the University of Mount Saint Vincent offers nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the College equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of professional accomplishment, service, and leadership in the 21st century.