Valerie Maholmes ’80 ’84 MA directs the Social/Affective Development, Child Maltreatment and Violence Research Program at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health. Maholmes received her undergraduate degree in English and a teaching certificate from Montclair State College and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Human Services and Guidance also from Montclair State.
After college, Maholmes moved to Washington, D.C. to continue her studies and continue down her career path that included teaching at Yale and Indiana University as well as earning many distinguished degrees. She has also published articles and book chapters, and has lectured and funded research and programs in her field. Her book titled The Oxford Handbook of Child Development and Poverty was recently published by Oxford University Press.
An active and involved alumna, Maholmes has organized Montclair State alumni events and activities in the Washington, D.C. region and attends alumni events in the area.
With hopes of becoming a broadcast journalist, Maholmes majored in English. She also enrolled in the teacher education program and obtained a teaching certificate in secondary education. She notes, “through both of these experiences, I learned important communication and presentation skills essential for careers in both of these fields. As it turns out, I didn’t have the opportunity, to work directly as a teacher or journalist. However, my first job after graduation was in higher education. I worked as an admissions officer and later as director of admission at a small women’s college. I was able to be successful in these roles, because I had been a work study student in both undergraduate and graduate admissions for all of my four years at Montclair State.”
A job as an admission director led Maholmes back to Montclair State to obtain a Master’s degree in Counseling, Human Services, and Guidance. She notes of the job, “I learned about education disparities and worked to support educational opportunity programming at that school.” Upon graduation, she worked as a counselor and job development specialist and later returned to Montclair State to work as an Educational Development Specialist.
“My academic training and professional experiences at Montclair State played a tremendous role in shaping my career path. My experiences motivated me to pursue advanced degrees to put myself in a better position to address significant challenges associated with disparities in education and in health. My work as an Associate Research Scientist and Assistant Professor at the Yale Child Study Center in the School of Medicine and my work in my current capacity at the National Institutes of Health stem from the guidance, inspiration and education I received at Montclair State.”
Maholmes recalls memories with the friends made during her undergraduate years, many of whom she is still friends with today. “We all sang in the Gospel Choir together and traveled to other schools and arenas to perform. I also remember fondly being a cheerleader and traveling with the basketball teams to the various games. “
When asked about influential faculty and staff, she says, “There were many who influenced me. The most influential person was Dean James Harris who was the first to challenge me to use my education as a means to give back to my community. I took my first psychology class with Dr. Dan Williams and from that point on I was hooked! I knew that the study of human behavior would be in my future. Dr. Buechler in the admissions office allowed me to learn how an admissions office functioned and created an environment for me that was much more than work study. I have many friends in the Educational Opportunity Fund Office and appreciate their support and guidance along the way.”