August 26, 2009
John’s University’s nationally and internationally acclaimed
academic programs are becoming the standard for colleges and
universities around the world.
The University’s international influence is most recently seen in
the growing partnership between St. John’s and Hanoi National
University of Education (HNUE) in Vietnam. In accordance with the
memorandum of understanding signed between the two universities,
St. John’s has teamed up with Hanoi University to develop Vietnam’s
first formalized school psychology program.
Long regarded as a philosophy rather than an empirical science in
Vietnam, it was not until recent years that mental health and
school psychology programs began to achieve recognition, “As a
profession, school psychology, does not exist at all in Vietnam,”
says Kimberly Kassay, doctoral fellow in St. John’s Psy.D. school
psychology program, “And there is a great need for psychologists in
schools and childcare centers.”
To train to become school psychology educators, faculty and
administrators from the Department of Psychology and Education of
HNUE arrived on St. John’s Queens campus on June 2 to sit in on
school psychology classes, attend lectures and seminars and tour
educational and mental health facilities.
“We are training these professors to be the forefathers and
foremothers of school psychology in Vietnam. Our goal here is to
both model the program in Vietnam after St. John’s program, while
also considering what is culturally valued and appropriate. As
such, it is extremely important that these educators be exposed to
every aspect of school psychology – from sitting in on psychology
classes offered at St. John’s to visiting clinics, hospitals and
schools where they can meet and observe school psychologists in
their typical work environment” says Mark Terjesen, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology.
The first phase of development began in Vietnam in May 2007 when a
group of faculty members and students from St. John’s psychology
department participated in a two-week academic service-learning
trip to collaborate with HNUE faculty and students and begin
introducing the American model of psychology to Hanoi.
“The trip to Vietnam in 2007 was an opportunity for us to lay the
groundwork that we need to begin building the program. While we
were there, we were able to implement a general understanding of
contemporary psychology methods,” explains Dr. Terjesen.
After two years of conducting research, collaborating with faculty
from HNUE, and developing a great understanding of the culture, St.
John’s next step was to provide Hanoi faculty with in-depth
instruction in school psychology. This led nine faculty members
from Hanoi to visit the United States and St. John’s this
“Thanks to the help and support of St. John’s University, our
summer visit was very successful. Having the opportunity to attend
several graduate classes and speak with professors who work in the
field was invaluable. We plan to adapt what we’ve learned in the
U.S. to Vietnamese culture and begin educating our future school
psychologists in Vietnam,” said Son Nguyen Duc, Ph.D., Vice - Chair
of HNUE Department of Psychology and Education.
St. John’s Department of Psychology and HNUE will continue working
together until their goal of establishing the first school
psychology program in Vietnam is achieved, “Many years from now
people will look back on what these people are doing and how
impressive it is, and we are honored to have a part in it. What we
are doing is also consistent with the Vincentian mission of the
University; it’s our way of helping those who could benefit from
and haven’t had access to help previously,” says Dr.
For more information about St. John’s School Psychology Program,
please visit the
psychology web page. If you are interested in supporting this
historic partnership, please contact Mark Terjesen, Ph.D.