Felipe Armas originally was studying engineering and architecture when he developed an interest in the psychological aspects of human interactions with the physical world.
He finally accepted that his "calling" was within psychology and would earn graduate degrees in Clinical Psychology in both Mexico and the U.S. Before coming to COD, he worked in clinical practice, first at an addictions treatment program for DuPage County and later as a marriage and family therapist for a local social service organization, as well as in private practice.
Armas always felt comfortable in the role of instructor or coach, which ultimately would lead to teaching.
"Ever since I was a teenager, I've received good feedback after my presentations and workshops," he explained. "My first opportunity at COD came as adjunct faculty teaching Spanish for a few quarters, and I loved it! Being part of the process of adults learning a different language is fascinating. You are entering a different culture, and it also involves a significant change in your neural networks."
He then began teaching Psychology courses and became a full-time psychology faculty member in fall 2004. It took Armas a few years to realize the importance of his interactions with his students.
"When I think of my professors back in college, those who I feel influence me even today, I don't remember course specifics or even the grade," he said. "I remember their attitudes toward both their subject and toward us students. I want my students to remember our class as one of the moments that made a difference in their personal and professional formation.
"I also want students to become better consumers of information and claims about behavior. Many of them have only been exposed to what we call 'pop-psychology,' and they expect their 'psych' course to be just like that. I stress the empirical aspect of psychological science and want more students to have useful mental tools when thinking about what they read and hear regarding human behavior."
During the past few years, Armas has been inspired by neuroscience and its developments, understandings and emerging questions. He considers his Physiological Psychology course an introduction to neuroscience, and he keeps learning about the field in order to keep improving the course material.
"I also get inspired by colleagues who do research in behavioral science and process the latest of that research in a way our undergrad students can benefit from," Armas said. "I am excited and inspired by science writers, those who inform the general public while fostering our sense of awe for the natural world."