Dr. Daisy Velez '09: Focusing on Mental Health

Perhaps now more than ever, mental health is at the forefront of conversations in the United States. It has become more accepted and more common for people to acknowledge problems they may be dealing with – and to seek treatment.

Daisy Velez, Psy.D. ’09, is among those who have dedicated their lives to improving people’s psychological well-being.

Velez recently became the attending medical psychologist for the trauma unit at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, New Jersey. Velez calls it her dream job.

Dedicated to Addressing Trauma

One of her primary responsibilities is to screen patients admitted to the medical trauma service for Acute Stress Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

“I can’t imagine what it is like when people go through (trauma) without any psychological support. It is important for us to intervene and let them know what they are experiencing is normal,” Velez said. “If we intervene with the early symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life, that makes me want to get out of bed in the morning and go to work.”

Velez also supports the medical staff at the hospital as they continue to fight on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. She checks in with them regularly about coping strategies for the added stress and anxiety that some may be experiencing.

The job is a homecoming of sorts for Velez. She spent a year as an extern at Cooper while she earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at LaSalle University in Philadelphia.

Prior to her position at Cooper, Velez was a clinical psychologist at the United States Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia. She also gained experience with trauma patients during her time as a clinical health psychology fellow in the trauma center of Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

Education at Scranton Fostered Confidence

Velez earned a bachelor of science in psychology from Scranton in 2009, with concentrations in Latin American studies and human development. She also completed a double minor in Spanish and philosophy.

“The education and focus at Scranton really build you as a whole person,” Velez said. “The rigorous curriculum made me want to be challenged.”

Velez has fond memories of her time as an undergraduate. She was involved in lots of activities on campus throughout her four years. As a senior, she was a teaching assistant for a freshman seminar class and also served as vice president of Scranton’s chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology.

“Scranton gave me confidence to do some things outside the box, and it was worth every penny. I always felt like I could talk to my professors about anything,” she said. “Everyone was welcoming, and this made it easy to have a great connection with the faculty.”