Department of Psychology
St. John's University
Howard Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10301
Tel: (718) 390-4513
FAX: (718) 442-3612


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.


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 didnít 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. John's University 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 Universityís 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.


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 noríeaster!

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