Daniel Sokel Named 2023 Valedictorian of Touro’s Lander College for Men
Future Psychologist Seeks to Help People Become the Best Possible Version of Themselves
Daniel Sokel’s deep-rooted curiosity about people and human nature has been a constant throughout his life, propelling his exploration into the intricacies of psychology.
“When I was young, I’d think about why some people seemed more outgoing and talkative than others, or why some things make us feel really excited or upset and other things do not,” he said. Now he hopes to parlay his interest into a career in clinical psychology. “I really just want to help people become the best possible versions of themselves.”
Over the course of the three years he spent learning at Yeshiva Aderes Hatorah in Jerusalem, Daniel was amazed at how one of his rebbeim found different ways to relate to each of his students. His rebbe’s ability to forge strong personal connections helped Daniel develop a professional interest in psychology, teaching him that the better you understand someone’s unique circumstances, the more meaningful your relationship will be.
After returning from Israel and enrolling in Touro’s Lander College for Men (LCM), Daniel worked tirelessly toward that goal. Not only is he graduating with a degree in psychology, but he was also named LCM’s 2023 valedictorian, and he will serve as one of the student speakers for the Lander College commencement at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center on June 4th.
“Daniel is a young man with presence. He is not only an outstanding student, but has the charisma and talent to make a real difference in the world,” said Dr. Moshe Sokol, dean of Lander College for Men.
Growing up in Cedarhurst on Long Island, Daniel attended the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway before learning in Aderes Hatorah, serving as the dorm counselor during the last of his three years in Israel. He graduates from Lander College for Men with a 4.0 cumulative grade point average, and made Dean’s List every semester. His ultimate plan is to earn a doctorate in clinical psychology and pursue a career as a psychologist.
Daniel is currently working in a residential setting at Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services as a direct care professional, helping individuals with intellectual, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities. He’s also conducting research with Touro faculty on individual differences in cognitive and affective empathy, particularly within multiracial and multicultural populations.
Daniel studied and worked closely with Touro psychology professor Dr. Cheryl Miodownik, and she invited him to serve as a guest lecturer for some of her classes, including teaching about Internal Family Systems (IFS), a relatively new therapeutic modality which he enjoys.
“IFS is much more than a method of providing therapy,” Daniel says, “it presents a comprehensive approach for gaining a deeper understanding of human experiences, relationship dynamics and our own inner selves.”
Beyond his obvious passion for psychology, during his 22 years Daniel has compiled a lengthy list of interests and hobbies, including cooking, baking, playing sports, and photography. But stay on his good side: He’s been training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai since he was 14.
“I’m not terrible,” joked the mild-mannered Daniel. “And I’m always up for a good challenge.”