My visit with Debra Nevas ’86, confirmed that there truly are Trinity alums ALL OVER New York City. Tucked away, a stones throw from Grand Central station, is the comfortable office of Debra Nevas, Ph.D. The city sounds are muffled when I enter her office building, and once I am in her office, I might as well be on a quiet street. Debra is a clinical psychologist, working in private practice with patients who experience all kinds of difficulties in life, including some who are crime victims.
When I sit on her couch, the tables are turned. I am driving the conversation instead of her providing therapy for her patients. When I asked Nevas about crime victims specifically she says, “It’s hard to hear what we do to each other as human beings.” She describes her approach as helping to light the way for the patient. She thinks of her role, in part, as holding a lantern through the process of healing. Sometimes she is walking in front of the patient, sometimes behind, or side by side, depending on where the patient is in his or her healing process.
Nevas wouldn’t have become a clinical psychologist if she hadn’t worked closely with Professor Randy Lee throughout her time at Trinity. Professor Lee served as her mentor after she first met him when she took his class, Theories of Clinical Psychology. The course set her on a path that was not planned and she went on to write her thesis. Nevas had the opportunity to intern at Hartford Hospital on the inpatient psychiatric unit. There, she learned, she was not afraid of the work, but found it endlessly engaging. Lee told her she could become a clinical psychologist – he encouraged her to consider it as a career and believed it was something she could do. Nevas says, “Lee’s encouragement changed the course of my life.” Ultimately, Nevas attended Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, where she received both her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology. Nevas maintains a small practice so that she can spend time with her husband and children. Encouragement and hard work between a Professor and student at Trinity can be powerful enough to start a career.