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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