Nicholas Mazza ’68
What have you been up to since graduation?
Following graduation from MCC in 1968, I completed my B.A. in English from Montclair State College in 1971, my M.S.W. from Rutgers in 1977, and my Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Florida State University in 1981. After completing my undergraduate degree, I continued to work in the maintenance department of Roosevelt Hospital (Edison, NJ). This was a job that helped me pay my way through college and was a source of income while I was looking for a “professional job.” In 1972, I found an article in Time Magazine on poetry therapy. I wrote to one of the leaders in poetry therapy, attended a national conference in Brooklyn, then went to the medical director asking to volunteer to read poetry to patients. The director put me in touch with the social services department and this ultimately led to my career as a social work practitioner and educator with particular expertise in the arts therapies, namely poetry therapy. I served as an agency-based full time clinical social worker from 1973-1978 and subsequent years in limited private practice and consulting. In 1978 I moved to Tallahassee to pursue my doctorate. I completed my doctorate in 1981 and became Florida licensed in clinical social work, psychology, and marriage & family therapy. In 1981 was fortunate to be hired as a faculty member at the FSU College of Social Work. I worked my way up the academic ranks to full professor (awarded the honor of named professorship in 2005). In 2008, I was appointed dean of the College and remained in that position until my retirement in 2015 (awarded Emeritus status as dean and professor).
What is one of your greatest achievements since graduating from MCC?
Being father and grandfather are my greatest achievements. What I am most proud of is my daughter Nicole (a kindergarten teacher), my son (who tragically passed away at the age of 21 in 2005 but is always in my heart), and my 3 year-old grandson Cole Christopher Anderson.
On a professional level (which is often integrated with a personal level), my greatest achievements include my work helping to advance the College of Social Work in serving students, the profession, and the larger community. It has also been a very special pleasure to be involved in and advance the field of poetry therapy for over 45 years. I am the founding (1987) and continuing editor of the Journal of Poetry Therapy. My most recent (2017) books are the 2nd edition of Poetry Therapy: Theory and Practice and the Expressive Therapies, a four volume series. I am also pleased to have contributed to the professional literature ( publications include articles, poems, short stories, chapters, reviews, and books).
In 2017, I received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association for Poetry Therapy. This year (2018) I was elected president of the organization.
What is your fondest memory of MCC?
This is a difficult question because I have so many fond memories, mostly relating to the friendships formed during my days at MCC.
In the summer of 1966, employed as newly- enrolled student at MCC, I worked in the maintenance department helping to restore some of the original Raritan Arsenal buildings. Great friends and great times!
It was exciting to be a part of the first class at MCC. It was such a welcoming and respectful environment. I was pleased to work on the College’s first literary magazine, Flux. I still have the first two original copies. The faculty were great–dedicated to teaching and the well-being of students.
What was your favorite place on campus, why?
I cannot identify a favorite place. I just enjoyed being around friends on campus. Now there was a favorite place off campus where many of us “socialized.”–The Driftwood Inn on Staten Island. The bartender came to my wedding (smile).
Who was your favorite professor and why?
Among many excellent professors, Mr. Elliot Pasternack (history professor) stands out. He taught us that history is a living thing and sparked my interest in research. The skills I learned in that class (searching the literature, critical thinking, and so much more) helped form the base of my scholarly pursuits.
If you could offer a current MCC student advice, what would it be?
Consider what drives your academic, career and creative pursuits. In whatever way your education is defined, discipline is at its core. Education is indeed a ‘‘human thing’’ and it’s always unfinished. Studying and writing from the heart with discipline is not only possible, but it’s also central in speaking to ‘‘what matters.’’ Our stories, whether personal or professional, are about transitions and relationships (we help each other). I urge all students to keep the colors, keep the honesty, and keep the promise along the journey.
is the belief
that one hand
reaching to another
touch the moon,
allowing the light
to guide us
through the night.
[from the Journal of Humanistic Education and Development (Issue 26, Page 257, 1998)]
Why was attending MCC the right decision for you?
To this day, I still list MCC on my curriculum vitae because it has meant so much to me with respect to building my confidence and abilities, establishing relationships, and inspiring me to continue my education/development.