Cuddled up on the couch with a blanket and a bag of popcorn, Veronica Bucci ’22 loved binging crime shows like Criminal Minds and Mindhunters at her home in downstate New York. "Not only am I interested in forensics holistically, but I also like learning about the motivation behind crimes and why people think the way they do,” she says. She became particularly interested in juvenile crime while watching the documentary Girls Incarcerated, which focused in part on how the combination of mental health care and education provides much needed support to juvenile offenders. It sparked an interest in forensic science and psychology that she decided to pursue at Syracuse University.
My research work has prepared me for a rich, post-undergraduate academic career, as well as a professional career because I now possess a deep knowledge and understanding of so many different subjects and research methods.—Veronica Bucci ’22
Bucci is a triple major studying psychology, neuroscience and forensic science in the College of Arts and Sciences. The three majors work together to provide Bucci with the foundational knowledge and skills she’ll need for her goal of pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Through her psychology classes, she is learning the basics of behavior as well as research-based methods and ideas to diagnose and treat patients. Neuroscience helps her apply clinical knowledge to assist in diagnosis and understanding. Forensic science enables her to focus on clinical-forensic populations—which is comprised of individuals with mental or emotional disorders—and the services available to them.
Her ambition is to work as a clinical psychologist within the juvenile justice system. “My goal is to lead rehabilitation and mental health support programs for juvenile offenders,” she says. “The strength of the forensic science program is one of the main reasons I chose Syracuse. I knew right off the bat Syracuse would allow me to put my best foot forward toward my goal of becoming a clinical psychologist.”
A Range of Research
Bucci has been engaged in research since her first year at Syracuse. She is a research assistant in the Psychology and Health Lab in the Department of Psychology where she works with undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty researchers to investigate a variety of topics, including alcohol use and behavioral aspects of HIV treatment and prevention. “My research work has prepared me for a rich, post-undergraduate academic career, as well as a professional career because I now possess a deep knowledge and understanding of so many different subjects and research methods,” she says. Her lab experience continues to inform how she can best work with individuals with varied backgrounds, and it’s exposed her to interventions and different approaches to conduct therapy. For example, she says she can apply what she’s learned in the alcohol-based intervention study to work she may do with a juvenile offender with substance abuse problems.
Being able to see the influence and impact that I’ve helped make in the lives of our research participants really emphasizes that this is the right career track for me.—Veronica Bucci ’22
Bucci, who is also a student in the Renée Crown University Honors Program, works in the research lab with Stephen Maisto, professor emeritus of psychology, and with Sarah Woolf-King, associate professor of psychology. Woolf-King says that Bucci has been a valuable member of the lab. “Veronica is curious, conscientious, self-motivated and reliable. She has been a wonderful member of our team and I am certain she will be successful in her pursuit of graduate school and far beyond.”
I knew right off the bat Syracuse would allow me to put my best foot forward toward my goal of becoming a clinical psychologist.—Veronica Bucci ’22
Bucci credits both professors with providing her the same amount of respect as the graduate students in the lab. “I am trusted by my professors with a lot and it’s great to be able to get all this amazing experience in the research lab at such a young age,” she says. It’s gratifying, she says, to see the outcome of the research. “I feel like I’m only a small part of the research but being able to see the influence and impact that I’ve helped make in improving the lives of our research participants really emphasizes that this is the right career track for me.”
Giving Back to Others
When she’s not in the lab or in class, Bucci is active on campus as a committee member for OttoTHON, a 12-hour dance marathon that raises money for the children who receive care at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse. Joining the campus relations committee for OttoTHON was important to her since she wants to work with young people in the future. “I love philanthropy and giving back to the community,” Bucci says. “Being part of OttoTHON, first as a dancer and now as a committee member, is a great way to connect with Syracuse, and to give back to kids and allow them to have the opportunity to just be a kid and not a kid battling an illness.”
Bucci is also president of the Crown Honors Program Student Advisory Board which serves as a platform to connect students, administrators and faculty together. She helps plan and lead social and community engagement events, and last spring she moderated a community open discussion on confronting anti-Asian racism. She wanted to join the advisory board in particular because of the mentorship she’s received from the faculty and the honors courses she’s been able to take throughout her time at Syracuse University.
Being part of OttoTHON, first as a dancer and now as a committee member, is a great way to connect with Syracuse, and to give back to kids and allow them to have the opportunity to just be a kid and not a kid battling an illness.—Veronica Bucci ’22
These experiences have given Bucci insight into how she wants to move forward with her career aspirations and philanthropic work she hopes to do as well with the youth population. Her professors, advisors and peers have all helped mentor her in some way with not only advice on her career but other aspects of her life as well. Bucci says that she’s learned from her peers to take time away from her schedule to do some self-care, a balance she says is critical to success.
“The guidance that I've been given has been both beneficial and reassuring to me that I am on the right path. So many professors and people I've worked with have shaped who I am as a student, as a researcher and as a future psychologist.”