Malky Zacharowicz, Psy.D.
Assistant Professor, Psychology
Lander College of Arts and Sciences, Touro College
What Her Students Say
Every class Dr. Zacharowicz gives is clear and elegantly thought-out. I took three classes with her and each one of them was an enjoyable experience. She really cares to build connections with her students, and she was incredibly helpful when I applied to graduate school.
— Leah Lubart
Malky Zacharowicz, Psy.D, credits her parents with instilling in her a determination to live a life of meaning.
Both her parents survived the Holocaust. Her father and his family disguised themselves and fled from one town to another, always just a step ahead of the authorities where a single mistake could spell an almost certain death. Her mother and maternal grandparents were saved by a Polish bachelor, who hid them in his basement for a few years. “It was unheard of,” recalled Dr. Zacharowicz. “He never wanted it disclosed that he saved this Jewish family since he was afraid of what people would do to him. He was a Righteous Gentile and went to his grave with this secret.”
“We grew up appreciating that there are good and kind people from all backgrounds,” continued Zacharowicz, an assistant professor of psychology at Touro’s Lander College of Arts and Sciences. “My parents were not victims, they were survivors. They were determined to have a life of meaning and a sense of pride in who they were. They had a sense of ambition to lead a good and meaningful life and they believed that if you are going to do something, you must do it right.”
Zacharowicz absorbed those lessons while she grew up with her siblings in Florida. After graduating high school, she moved to New York to attend college and discovered an interest in psychology.
“Because of how I was raised, I felt very committed to contribute and give back to the Jewish community and humanity,” said Zacharowicz.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree, Zacharowicz pursued a Psy.D. at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. While there, she connected with professors at the nearby Albert Einstein College of Medicine to further her interest in pediatric neuropsychology.
“Psychology was interesting, but I was looking for the scientific underpinnings of how children learn, and pediatric neuropsychology answers those questions,” explained Zacharowicz. She was helped along in her quest by a series of incredible mentors she met at Einstein. Zacharowicz worked under famed pediatric neurologist Dr. Isabelle Rapin who was considered the foremost expert on autism spectrum disorder. Another mentor was Dr. Michelle Dunn. “She really took me under her wing,” remembered Zacharowicz. “It was an unparalleled experience in terms of understanding neuropsychology and applying it to how children learn and function.”
Zacharowicz’s thesis focused on children on the autism spectrum and how they developed and used executive functions. After completing her education, Zacharowicz began working at the Soifer Center for Learning and Child Development, where she worked under the auspices of the founder, Dr. Lydia Soifer, and clinical psychologist Dr. Judy Moskowitz. “I was fortunate to have the opportunities to learn from clinical psychologists and pediatric neuropsychologists and integrate the two disciplines,” explained Zacharowicz. “This allowed me to appreciate how children function in terms of cognitive processing and emotional development.”
Twenty years ago, Zacharowicz was invited to teach at Touro’s Lander College of Arts and Sciences. Her teaching talent was immediately apparent and Zacharowicz was offered a full-time position shortly afterwards.
“I appreciate the environment Touro provides for its students,” said Zacharowicz. “I find that a lot of students are eager to learn and ask questions to deepen their knowledge. I think they also appreciate the interaction we have in the classroom.”
“One of my goals as a professor is to impress on my students the complexity of each person. Some of my students are teachers and they need to appreciate that when a child shuts down in the classroom it’s not because they’re not trying or not motivated, but rather because they need to be taught in a different way.”
Zacharowicz, along with Dr. Ditza Berger, a fellow professor at Touro, launched a diagnostic practice in Cedarhust. “Our goal is to better understand why a child might be having difficulty—whether the issue is cognitive, social, or emotionally based,” said Zacharowicz. “Difficulties in one area aren’t mutually exclusive with difficulties in another area. The way I was trained was that each child is a puzzle. As part of a comprehensive evaluation, our goal is to break down the pieces of the puzzle and put it back together to understand the child. Each child is unique.”
Zacharowicz’s course load varies each year, but usually includes psychological testing, developmental lifespan, adolescent psychology, social psychology, and psychology of the exceptional child.
“One of my goals as a professor is to impress on my students the complexity of each person,” she said. “It resonates with them and for some students, it’s eye-opening and gives them professional insights. Some of my students are teachers and they need to appreciate that when a child shuts down in the classroom it’s not because they’re not trying or not motivated, but rather because they need to be taught in a different way.”
She encourages her students to find role models in the field. “I think mentorships are crucial,” said Zacharowicz. “It’s transformational to find role models who enable lifelong learning and professional growth. You need humility and the ability to appreciate that when you learn from someone who has been doing this longer than you, you are tapping into their deep reservoirs of knowledge.”
Zacharowicz said teaching also enables her to stay informed and up-to-date with the field of psychology. “You have to constantly learn, and I learn from my students,” she said. “The culture keeps evolving and each generation of students grapples with some new dilemmas.”
But no matter the situation, Zacharowicz said the lessons she took from her parents remain her guiding lights. “My parents were people of depth and they never did anything superficially,” she said.
Zacharowicz was a wide receiver on her school’s football team.
When she’s not working in her practice or teaching at Touro, Zacharowicz enjoys listening to shiurim, lectures on Jewish topics. Her favorite lecturers are Rabbi Yissocher Frand, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, and Mrs. Shira Smiles.
A Family Affair
Both Zacharowicz and her husband, Leon, share common professional interests. Dr. Leon (Shmuel) Zacharowicz is a well-known pediatric neurologist who also spends time pursuing his interest in medical halacha (religious law). They have been married for more than 30 years and have four children and three grandchildren. “My husband has always been a tremendous source of support and encouragement,” said Zacharowicz. “While working as a psychologist has been quite meaningful, the greatest source of growth and meaning for me has been as a wife and mother.”