Alumni Spotlight Preview- Hank McGovern

Graduating year: 1977

1. How would you describe your experience at UNC Charlotte?

I really enjoyed it. I made new friends right away, and I took some psychology courses with some great professors.  My advisor and professor, Dr. Lawrence Calhoun knew of my interest in Behaviorism, and I think that was one of the biggest things that came out of that year.  I was very much into B.F. Skinner, and I liked to argue the points that Skinner made.  At that time behaviorism was at odds with humanism.  Dr. Calhoun said we could do a research study, which we did, called “Perceptions of behavior and humanistic therapy” and we got it published on April of 1980 in the Journal of Community Psychology and that was a big deal to me.  Professor Calhoun and Professor Fernald were the two most influential professors to me while I was here at UNC Charlotte.

2. What are you up to now?

I am doing a number of things.  I have been working with individuals with developmental disabilities by helping them to create effective behavioral plans.  I have also been promoting my book.

3. Tell us a little bit about your book!

It is a memoir that I started during a difficult period in my life when I was very depressed and started having suicidal thoughts and I was able to refer back to my education and training to bring myself out of this low point in my life and writing the book was therapeutic.  The process was really transformative.  The main point of the book that I make is that suicidal thoughts are not necessarily a bad thing, it is a warning sign that something in that person’s life needs to die not the person but something, it is important to pay attention and analyze what needs changing.  I am hoping to reduce suicides using my book and educating people in this new and unique way to look at suicidal thoughts.

4. What advice would you give to current UNC Charlotte students?

If you hear me giving you advice, stop me!  Seriously, I would say focus on what you really feel passionate about and go after it and don’t let anything stand in your way.  If you are not sure, there is no rush.  Take your time to explore and experiment.