Studying to become a clinical child psychologist to help youth who have experienced major stress and trauma

I was lying in a hospital bed, shortly after brain surgery, experiencing the same sense of loss and angst I had felt after losing my father. It was at this moment that my interests in clinical psychology became more focused on the goal of studying and treating child and adolescent anxiety and depression. This realization built upon the general sense I had as a teen that I wished to pursue a career in helping others. The concept of therapy and counseling was something I had an interest in as early as age 13, and by my junior year in high school, I knew that I wanted to study psychology in college. Prior to surgery, I had already developed a passion for studying this captivating field. At first, I wanted to earn a medical degree. However, early into my college education, I realized my goal was to earn a doctoral degree in clinical psychology because positive mental health is something that I value and believe is just as important as physical health.

My undergraduate experience at the University of Florida includes serving for four years as a research assistant, a time-intensive commitment to many hours designing experiments and integrating data for various projects I participated in. Additionally, I was accepted for a teaching assistant position for an upper-level psychology course and found the teaching experience challenged me to learn even more about psychology.

Furthermore, an internship at Clinical Psychology Associates of North Central Florida provided me with insight into the demands of clinical evaluation and treatment by psychologists and neuropsychologists in private practice. I was able to participate in a complex clinical milieu that involved multiple providers and assistants serving a private clinic population that provided demanding comprehensive neuropsychological assessments. My experiences in a social service internship at Pace Center for Girls reinforced my interest and enthusiasm in studying and helping youth who have experienced major stress and trauma. This internship made me realize how important diversity and social justice are to me. The challenges the children and teens in the program face inspire me to face my own challenges and succeed in my professional development in order to ultimately give back to a community that has unknowingly given me so much.

I had neurosurgery at age 21, which followed efforts to cure epilepsy, a disability that I developed at age 16. The surgery was successful, the recovery difficult, but ultimately it allowed me to continue in my research activities and pursue experience in clinical settings. After my acute recovery and a need for rest and rehabilitation, I started working two jobs to support myself before resuming my studies. Miraculously, I have been able to balance working full-time, going to school full time, and maintaining part-time research assistantships and internships. This personal experience makes me confident about my resilience, perseverance, and willingness to devote myself to reach my goal of becoming a clinical child psychologist.

We are proud to announce Lily Nelson is one of the current JustJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘heart’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.

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  • John Charles

    Good Luck with the scholarship!

  • Ryan Young

    I couldn’t think of a better young woman to invest in. Help her grow and she will return the investment tenfold for people that need her.

  • Nina Haas

    Good luck Lily!

  • Jennifer Ciobanu

    What an inspiring story! You are courageous and will be a gift to this field.

  • Robert Odom

    Lily knows whereof she speaks. She has accomplished so much and overcome every obstacle thrown in her path. The resilience and strength exhibited in her accomplishments so far are indicitave of her will to succeed in her chosen field. Best of luck, Lily.

  • Lisa Capra

    Best of luck Lily.

  • Christene Eastman

    It’s good to be so focused. Good Luck.

  • Lloyd Biggs

    I am a friend of your mom and dad from college. Great essay! Good luck! Crossing fingers you win! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3d843c7d221980202173a9e961ee9883c7ad32c66b9b906e50a57ac5d2032c0b.jpg

  • Devin Wilson

    Good luck Lily! You are awesome!

  • Maureen Tartaglione

    I am especially impressed that Lily chose PACE Center for Girls for her internship. PACE is a school for girls who have suffered a trauma that puts them at risk for dropping out of a main-stream public school. It is a temporary haven where the girls can stay in school while accessing the support they need to heal until they are ready to return to their regular school. Its success rate is impressive, yet it often is overlooked. I’m sure Lily’s experience working with these girls, in combination with her clearly ferocious work ethic and academic success make her a young woman who will contribute much to the world.

  • Lisa Koch Buchaus

    What a wonderful and inspirational story, Lily will obtain her goal, her passion… It’s in her genes.

    Way to go Lily, you’ve got this!

  • Kelsey Jones

    So proud of you, Lily!! Good luck. <3

  • Jonelle Joseph

    I hope you win!

  • Marco Martinez

    This was truly an amazing story, Hope you accomplish everything you want in life

  • David Mucci

    Lily’s passions for psychology and for helping others have been a fundamental aspect of who she is for as long as I have known her. Her journey is inspirational and she truly deserves this scholarship to help her help many, many more people.

  • Rachel Greenberg

    Wow, you truly deserve to win! Your story and own personal strength is inspiring

  • Jess Bowles

    Lily is one of the strongest and nicest people I have ever met. There’s nothing she can’t accomplish once her mind is set on it.

  • Laura Weill Nelson

    If only we could all turn what is perceived as obstacles into inspiration as Lily has done here! There will be a multitude of children who will no doubt benefit from Lily.

  • Debra Goff Werner

    Amazing story and you have overcome so many trials. You will be great with teens because you will be able to relate to them. Good luck, Lily!

  • Charlie Daffron

    Awesome job, Lily!!! Best of luck to you In pursuing your goals! In the words of The Smith Street Band: “You are an amazing person and you’ll do amazing things.”

  • Sarah Tompkins Odom

    Thank you, Lily, for sharing your heart, your goals, and your commitment to give back to others in need. It is amazing how life’s experiences so often guide us toward a path that we would not have otherwise chosen. You have obviously taken what was an extremely difficult life experience and converted it into positive results in your life, and you will no doubt continue on to contribute to the bettering the lives of others.

  • Nicholas Natale

    Your story is very inspirational, Lily! I appreciate you letting us get to know about your extensive medical treatment and how you cultivated it into a passion for mental health. I wish you all the best with your graduate studies!

  • Michele Kuhn

    Good luck on your journey, Lily!!!

  • Abby Stiekman

    What an incredible story! Good luck Lily, I know that you will do great things.

  • Robbie Levin

    Lily is amazing wow! Her story is so inspirational! I hope she achieves success in becoming a clinical child psychologist so she can help children achieve and maintain a good mental health!

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