With a very diverse and exhilarating career in forensic psychology, Dr. Mary Alice Conroy uses her background to teach and train students at Sam Houston State University for their own careers.
Conroy began teaching at Sam Houston about seven years ago after working for 20 years for the Department of Justice in the Federal Bureau of Forensic Psychology. While there she served as not only a forensic psychologist, but also as the director of Forensic Services at various institutions.
“The dean used to tell people that I just got out of prison,” she said.
As doctoral graduate of the University of Houston, Conroy said she chose Sam Houston because she had lived in the Huntsville area before and really liked it.
“At the end of what I thought to be a very exciting career, I thought that it would be a good thing to share with students,” she said.
When Conroy came to SHSU, the university was starting a new program in forensic psychology.
“They were starting a very unique program in the country, and I wanted to be a part of it,” she said.
As a graduate student professor, Conroy teaches the year-long doctorate course in forensic psychology.
In 1998, she helped build a special doctorate program for the courts and criminal justice in psychology for forensic training.
In the undergraduate program, she mainly teaches the practicum class and the course psychology and law.
“Psychology and law is one of my favorite classes,” she said.
During the summers, Conroy said she enjoys teaching psychology and law to prisoners in Huntsville.
“The prisoners have a very different philosophy on psychology and law than my students do,” she said.
As a board certified forensic psychologist for the courts and criminal justice system, Conroy said she could not, after all her years in the field, narrow her experiences down to one most memorable. However, she did play a part in the recent Andrea Yates trial.
“I testified how to appropriately do a competence test,” she said.
As a consultant to the prosecuting team, Conroy explained to the prosecutors how to present an argument in a competency hearing, and how to cross-examine witnesses.
Presently, Conroy serves as the director of the Psychological Services Center and as the director of Practicum Training for the Forensic Clinical Doctoral program.
“Psychological Services is something not many people know about,” she said. “We rarely see students because the Counseling Center on campus offers free service to students.”
The Psychological Services Center is a community clinic that offers services to the public on a sliding scale, and is used to help train doctoral students.
“We do just about everything psychological,” she said. “We see adults, kids, couples and groups.”