MIGUEL ROIG, Ph.D.Howard Avenue, Staten
Island, NY 10301
Department of Psychology
St. John's University
Tel: (718) 390-4513
FAX: (718) 442-3612
A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
I was born in La Habana, Cuba,
in 1956. Actually, I am the only Cuban in my family. My parents were both born
in Spain and
their respective families still reside there. My father was from the island
of Ibiza, part of a group of
Mediterranean islands known as Baleares. Their local dialect is similar to
Catalan which I understand it to be a mixture of French and Spanish. My mother
is from the northwester province of Galicia
where locals speak Gallego, a language that seems closer to Portuguese than to
Castilian Spanish. Both of my parents, of course, spoke Spanish. They emigrated
separately to Cuba;
my father in the early 1930s and my mother in the 1940s. They met in the late
40s, became Cuban citizens, married, and eventually, I arrived.
In 1961, disillusioned with the way things were going in Cuba,
my parents decided to leave the country. Unfortunately for us, Spain's
policy toward Spaniards, like my parents who had renounced their Spanish
citizenship, was not favorable at that time and the government refused to
repatriate us. Since we had some very good friends here in the States, we
applied to immigrate to the US.
On November 13, 1970, a day that will forever remain etched in my memory; we
arrived at Miami Airport in a 1950s-style turbo prop passenger plane. We spent
several days in "Little Havana", Florida
with friends and then flew north to New Jersey.
We settled in West New York, NJ
and lived there for 15 years. We spent another five years in Union
City, a nearby town that during the 70s and 80s was
the most important enclave of Cuban exiles in the Northeast. In 1991 we moved
to the Red Bank area of central NJ.
MY EDUCATIONAL ROOTS
When I arrived in NJ, I was immediately placed in a special ESL
class to learn English with other foreign students (Hispanics, mostly Cubans
like myself) in Public School No. 4 in West New York.
The following year (1971) I attended Memorial
High School, located in the same
town, where I spent the next 4 years trying to sharpen my skills in English.
After graduation, I attended Jersey City State College, where I initially
majored in philosophy. My area of interest at the time was parapsychology and
the mind/body problem. My curiosity about the nature of the mind led me to take
some courses in psychology. Although I liked psychology, I did not do very
well in the first few courses I took. Like many of my current students, I
didn’t appreciate our strong biological roots. Nevertheless, my philosophy
advisor (and good friend, Michael Grosso) persuaded me to major in psychology
as he thought that psychology would be more relevant to my interests and would
make it easier to earn a living. Subsequently, during the fall semester of my
sophomore year, I took Experimental Psychology from Curt Thomsen. That was an
eye-opening experience. After taking Experimental Psychology, Theories of
Learning (from Dan Tortora), where students were given an opportunity to
condition their own rat, and a seminar course (again, from Curt Thomsen) where
we could carry out our experiments, I realized that I wanted to pursue a
career in research and teaching in psychology. Those courses were so
instrumental in my training that, to this day, I use course-handouts and
exercises that can be directly traced back to those classes.
In 1979, upon completion of my B.A. in Psychology, I entered the Master of Arts
program in General Experimental Psychology at St.
in Queens. My research, academic, and work experiences
at Jersey City State
had been instrumental in my selection for a research assistantship at St.
John's. The assistantship meant free tuition and a
modest stipend that was extremely helpful to me. I was also very fortunate that
during my second year, Rex Stanford, a
world-renowned parapsychologist had rejoined the faculty and I became his
research assistant. In sum, the St. John's
experience was unique educationally, emotionally, and in many other ways. I
became very close with many of my professors (for example, Len Brosgole, Rex
Stanford, Robert Zenhausern; the latter two retired). I also
made many friends amongst my peers, some of who have remained in touch with me
over the years.
After graduating with the MA degree in 1981, I was accepted in the doctoral
program at the Institute for Cognitive Studies of Rutgers University’s Newark
campus (NJ). This was a unique institution in that its philosophical
underpinnings were grounded in the work of the original Gestalt Psychologists
(Kohler, Koffka and Wertheimer). Indeed, some of my professors there (e.g., Dr.
John Ceraso, my thesis advisor) were trained by these early pioneers of
psychology. I completed my course work at Rutgers in the
spring of 1984. That summer, I decided to work full-time, teach part-time (I
had already taught college courses beginning in 1981), and finish my doctoral
dissertation (1989). My full-time position was with the New York City
Department of Personnel where I was a Tests and Measurement Specialist. In this
position, I was involved in all aspects of civil service testing, primarily
designing and constructing examinations for a variety of positions with the
Fire Department. There, I met Maryellen Reardon, (who earned her doctorate at Ohio
University and is presently an I/O
psychologist with Prudential Ins.) in August, 1986 and we eventually married in
August, 1988. We had our first child, Michael John, in December, 1989, and our
second, Elena Graham, in December, 1994.
In 1987, I left the NY City Dept. of Personnel and accepted my first
full-time teaching position at Wagner
College. Two years later, I
re-joined the St. John's family in
their Staten Island campus. In the spring of 1995 I was
granted tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor and in the spring of
2008, I was promoted to full professor.
HOBBIES AND OTHER INTERESTS
When I am not preparing for class, reading, writing, or making repairs
to our 90-plus-year-old house, I can be found at nearby beaches (Sea Bright,
Sandy Hook) fishing, beach combing for fossils (at the beach or in nearby
brooks), metal detecting, birding, snorkeling, or just staring at the mighty
ocean. You should see its awesome power during a strong nor’easter!
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