Temple University Psychology graduate Tess DeVos has been a problem solver her whole life.
“I was the kid that always tried to resolve social issues in school. If someone was being bullied, I tried to stop it. If there was a fight, I tried to defuse it,” she said. “My parents would joke that I would be the one at home that said ‘Let’s sit down at the table and work this out.’ When I first told my dad I was thinking about Psychology as a career, he said ‘Yes, that sounds about right.’”
With a stellar 3.95 GPA, DeVos said she initially planned to become a school psychologist when she graduated from Temple. Her sights, however, are now set on social work within secondary education.
“I went to a small high school where everyone knew everyone, but even there you could see kids that just weren’t on the administrations’ radar. I know as adults sometimes it’s hard to see that a student is struggling mentally or emotionally — and they aren’t likely to tell you when they are,” she said. “I want to be in a position where I can help fill the gaps so no child gets lost and falls through the cracks. I want to be wherever I can be that will be of the most help.”
DeVos knew she didn’t have to go far to help that dream come true. She applied and was accepted to Temple’s Master of Social Work program.
“My father is Chief Program Officer for Community Behavioral Health for the City of Philadelphia. I’ve seen how his profession impacts him and how he is able to impact the lives of others,” said DeVos, who currently works at Laurel’s Loft, a non-profit thrift store that benefits Laurel House. “I felt with social work, I could be more proactive in helping students. I’d like to work with teens. I minored in Criminal Justice because I felt that could help me help others break negative patterns of behavior before they ever start. I want to be an advocate and a resource for struggling students.”
DeVos came to Temple from a pretty packed Owls nest. Her father Andrew and brother Benjamin are both Temple alumni.
“Since I was a freshman, I have taken most of my classes at Temple Ambler because, after one visit, I fell in love with the campus. I feel my classes are much more personalized than the average college class — the faculty know my name and are invested in my success,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m just one person in a sea of students. I think I get a great deal of personalized attention, which is a wonderful part of the learning experience on campus.”
While completing her degree, DeVos had the opportunity to get a first-hand taste of working within secondary education.
“I was able to work with the Dean of Student Affairs, LaVerne Lilliston, at Phil-Mont Christian Academy in Erdenheim in fall 2018,” she said. “I was given a lot of personal responsibility, which helped solidify the idea of school social work in my mind — it was a very beneficial experience.”
DeVos said the diversity of backgrounds, thoughts, ideas and interests she has had the opportunity to engage with while at Temple has proven invaluable to her learning experience and personal growth.
“One of my favorite things about Temple is that there are so many different perspectives. The faculty, I think, are wise in addition to being knowledgeable,” she said. “A lot of places teach you to take tests and write papers —you can stay on top of things and keep your grades up without ever taking in what you’re being taught. Temple isn’t like that at all. Temple taught me to think critically and think for myself, an essential trait if I want to be an impactful social worker.”