When this year’s Ivy Day speaker, Shuyao Kong ’13, delivered her Expression of Student Gratitude during All Reunion Weekend, she acknowledged the contribution of Smith alumnae in making her education possible, but she gave a special shout-out to one in particular, who also happened to be in the audience celebrating her 45th Reunion—Judy Kuriansky ’68.
Known professionally as Dr. Judy, Kuriansky jokes that she “wears many hats,” which is an understatement. She is in fact a renowned clinical psychologist, radio talk-show host, television commentator, certified sex therapist, author, lecturer and Huffington Post blogger. As the main representative of the International Association of Applied Psychology and chair of the Psychology Coalition at the United Nations, she is deeply involved with international issues in human rights, mental health and post-disaster trauma relief.
Shuyao Kong ’13 and Judy Kuriansky ’68 on campus during 2013 All Reunion Weekend.
Despite a backbreaking schedule, Kuriansky is committed to finding time to mentor Smith students. “It’s my way of paying back for my superb Smith education,” she says. “It also maintains my connection to the school, and I feel good helping advance the personal and professional development of these women who are going to make important contributions in the world.” In the past 10 years, Kuriansky has taken on 21 Smith student interns during summer and winter breaks. They work on projects that reflect the diversity of Kuriansky’s own work and have even accompanied her to professional meetings and missions in Australia, Germany, Haiti and China.
Kong, a double major in psychology and economics, learned of Kuriansky through a fellow Smith student and was interested in knowing more about her work with the United Nations, and specifically her work in post-disaster therapeutic services in Kong’s native China. Plus, Kong adds, “I was curious how she can manage to do so many things at the same time!” During her junior year, Kong contacted Kuriansky and began working for her during the January break.
As an intern, Kong worked on a paper detailing disaster-relief services provided by American, European and Chinese organizations after China’s Sichuan earthquake in 2008, and presented the paper at several conferences. She also served as translator for a Chinese paper on a new treatment for schizophrenia. This summer, Kong is working as a teaching assistant for Kuriansky’s clinical psychology class at Columbia University Teacher’s College. And there’s no shortage of glamour: Recently Kong attended a gala event at the United Nations with Kuriansky, to honor several first ladies of Africa.
In August, Kong will head home to China before leaving for Nigeria to work in the human resources department at IBM. Kuriansky plans to meet her in China, and together they will travel to Sichuan to do post-traumatic-stress relief workshops for the area’s children.
In her Expression of Student Gratitude address, Kong said that Kuriansky cared for her “like a daughter.” Kuriansky agrees. “We will always have a connection, and I will always be thinking of ways to assist in her professional advancement and personal growth because I am 1,000 percent committed to her. She is going to do great things.”
Cheryl Dellecese is associate director, print and new media, in College Relations.