Psychology professor Jeffrey Armstrong grew up at the Jersey Shore and spent most of his life there before going to college.
“I went to Penn State University main campus for undergrad, originally as a computer science major. I fell in love with psychology via my Intro to Psych class in my 3rd semester, then I went on to complete my graduate work at Monmouth University in psychological counseling,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong didn’t face any obstacles after graduating from PSU, he jumped right into grad school. “I was never stuck with what I wanted to do after undergrad school. Out of grad school I transitioned right into two career paths – counselor at a juvenile prison and teaching college at Brookdale Community College,” Armstrong said.
“The prison I worked in was called the Juvenile Reception and Assessment Center. In other words, it was a temporary facility for inmates to be processed and assessed. In most cases, inmates will stay at this facility for 12 weeks or less. On a typical day, I would start my day doing wellness checks, checking in with inmates who were high risk. Most days I would participate in intake assessments for new inmates. I also ran different groups, including an anger-management group,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong worked in a juvenile prison as an intern for 6 months and as a staff counselor for 3 years. The best part about working in a juvenile prison is working with the inmates. “Working with young men who, in the overwhelming majority of cases, had tons of potential. I cherished the work I did with them.”
Armstrong stated that the job as a whole takes a toll on you. “The work, in general, is something that takes a toll on you. You can’t help but feel for and care for these young people. In many instances, they were never afforded real opportunities to thrive, they come from incredibly toxic environments, and those are the environments they will return to after their sentences,” said Armstrong.