NAU Yuma’s Departing Psychology Lead and Lecturer: “Muchas Gracias” and “Always, Always Follow Your Heart and Use Your Head”
By Nancy Gilkey/NAU Yuma
Please join the NAU Yuma community in saying goodbye to Dr. Christopher Gore, Psychology Program lead and lecturer, who will soon leave this land of endless sunshine for London, full of rainy skies and gales.
Fortunately, another kind of sunshine awaits him there: “Familia!” he says. “My dear wife and I have been apart now since I moved here in the fall of 2019—with the exception of summers and Christmas break. I also have a son in Norway (only a two-hour flight from London) and a stepdaughter in London.”
Having lived in the US, UK, Norway, and the United Arab Emirates and taught a broad range of psychology classes at seven different colleges and universities in those countries, he says he’s brought diversity to the NAU Yuma Psychology Program. And “a lot of life experience, which I have shared with my students,” Gore, 61, adds.
He also resurrected NAU Yuma’s Psychology Club. Knowing how important it is for students to have a club, he planned to get one going when he arrived here. “Lo and behold, I learned that a previous psychology faculty member had already done the legwork, which made it easy for me. I got a core group of psychology students together in the fall of 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic, and we followed the model that had been laid out before, namely, having a joint NAU Yuma/AWC club.”
The fledgling club didn’t see much activity until students returned to campus this past academic year, met in person and heavily marketed the club to AWC. “We actually went into classrooms and announced the club, had meetings every week or every other week, always had fun team-building and bonding activities, and even had some high school students from San Luis get involved,” Gore says.
“The semester ended with a field trip to the main campus in Flagstaff back in late April. Included in this trip was an amazing tour of the psychology department there. We had an absolutely wonderful group of motivated and highly involved students run the club. It was such a pleasure to go to the meetings and be there with them. It was like a family. I hope they can keep the club running in the future and grow it. It’s a wonderful resource for students interested in psychology.”
Gore also started a first-ever psychology lab at NAU Yuma. “As psychological knowledge is based on empiricism and the scientific method, having a lab is crucial and also a good way to personally involve students in the acquisition of knowledge through research,” he says. Having worked in a psychology lab for three years as an undergrad, he presented research findings at two undergraduate research conferences and was a co-author on two published studies from that lab.
“In addition to my GPA and GRE scores, it was the research experience that made me stand out from the pack when I applied to graduate schools, so I really wanted our psychology students to have the same opportunities I had when I was in their shoes,” he says.
Starting a lab from scratch takes time and effort, and he regrets that he’s run out of time to develop it further. “Had I remained in the position, this coming academic year would have been the year of a productive lab,” he says.
Though his wife was going to join him in Yuma, where they’d planned to settle, she’s been unable to get licensed to practice as a child and adolescent psychotherapist in Arizona, he laments. “She has a thriving practice in London, though, is fully licensed and credentialed there, and also works as a therapist for the British National Health Service,” he says. “She is an absolutely amazing therapist. Yes, I am biased! As I don’t need a license to be a professor in the UK, it’s best that I move back and work there.”
Although Gore is happy to rejoin his wife and family, he will also miss working and living here. After all, making the switch from London to Yuma has given him both challenges and rewards. One thing he had to adapt to is vast differences in climates—from greenery and cold, wet, dreary weather to sunshine and a hot, dry desert setting.
“Another challenge was the huge increase in responsibility when I took this position,” he says. “I was fully responsible for our psychology program—something I was not responsible for in my previous position. So that was a bit challenging, but also so much fun and exciting!”
So what was the most rewarding thing about his experience here? “Without a doubt, having the opportunity to serve my students and be a part of their growth and development,” he says. “Being with them at every class meeting was such a huge reward for me. I’m so blessed to have a job/career that I absolutely love.
“Additionally, I have never worked with such an outstanding group of colleagues—staff and faculty. All of them have been amazing. I’ve seen it all in academia and am really amazed at how everyone on our campus seems to get along. The staff and faculty are so helpful and kind. Working with everyone has been such a tremendous reward!”
He says: The numero uno thing I will take back is the experience I have had with the Hispanic culture here. My two favorite foods are Mexican and Indian/Pakistani. Plus, there is something about the Hispanic culture that I just ‘get.’ Frankly, it sort of reminds me of my wife’s culture as she was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and emigrated to London when she was seven. She’s still very Pakistani, though. There’s an openness, passion, energy, and excitement I find in both cultures. So, I will take what I have learned about Hispanic culture back to London!
“The numero dos thing I will take back is my experience developing and building a psychology program and the wonderful opportunities I was given here. All of this made a huge impact on me as I have learned and grown so much from being here. The experience I have gained here is invaluable.”
He leaves students with these words of wisdom and inspiration: “Always, always, follow your heart and use your head to guide you to the destinations where your heart leads. It’s easy to sway from the path. Always listen to your heart and find a way back. Plus, to borrow from my favorite actor, Robin Williams, in the movie, “The Dead Poet’s Society,” the Latin phrase, carpe diem (‘seize the day’).”
He also encourages students to read Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” in its entirety. “And finally—God forbid— be yourself and love yourself!”
Asked if there is anything else he’d like to add, he replies in the customary border town “Spanglish” he will take back to London: “Yes! I will dearly, dearly miss you all. This has been the best job/academic position I have ever had. I mean every word of that sentence. So, I will pass on what you all have given to me. Muchas gracias for giving me this opportunity!”