Sarah Vaynman: A Flair for Forensics
“I’m interested in the intersection of law with mental health.”
When her AP teacher told her about forensic psychology, Sarah was hooked. After graduation, she’s taking a year off (“not everything can be learned in a classroom,” she says) to work as a paralegal and get her feet wet in the law industry. Then she’ll be off either to law school, where she plans on specializing in mental health, or to graduate school for psychology, where she’ll specialize in forensics.
HIGH SCHOOL Ida Crown Jewish Academy
SEMINARY Machon Ma’ayan, Israel
CLASS OF 2015
BEHIND THE SCENES
I always did well in my psychology classes, and people kept telling me I’d make a good lawyer, so I’m combining the two through a career in forensic psychology. It’s a great middle ground; there are so many paths I can take with it—I could work in family court, mental health, as an expert witness giving testimony. I could give evaluations for competency to stand in trial, judge on the grounds of insanity, or test children to determine which parent should get custody. I’m actually leaning towards specializing in criminal law. I want to figure out why people commit crimes—what motivates them? How do they gauge risk? And what can we do to help them stop?
FAVORITE class: My online class with Professor Chaim Tarshish, Drugs and Behavior. I took Cognition and Memory with him last semester, and I really liked how thorough he is with the material. Last semester we learned about the mechanisms of memory—short term, long term, implicit, explicit… In fact, I wrote my term paper on dissociative amnesia. This semester, I’m writing on whether marijuana is a gateway drug. (If you’re interested, I don’t think it is. It’s a presumptuous theory. Marijuana users end up using harder drugs, but there’s no evidence that marijuana itself is a gateway drug. Correlation doesn’t necessitate causation.)