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News > Alumni Spotlight > Navigating Challenges, Pursuing Passion, and Embracing the Journey

Navigating Challenges, Pursuing Passion, and Embracing the Journey

Kimberly D'Silva '17 journey in IB to pursue a degree in Psychology at McMaster University is deeply influenced by SJI International's cultural diversity and service-oriented ethos.

My years at SJI International were truly unforgettable, filled with fun memories and valuable lessons! SJI International was home to some of the best teachers I have ever known, who could make challenging subjects like HL Math and TOK very engaging. Being surrounded by like-minded peers who always strived to do their best also pushed me to achieve my full potential. At the same time, I also remember being constantly reminded by my homeroom teacher not to be too hard on myself, that everything I did didn’t have to be perfect, as long as I tried my best. This stuck with me and taught me to be kinder to myself and acknowledge that as long as I put in the work and tried my hardest, I would gain a rewarding outcome. I am also extremely happy to have met such open-minded, multicultural, dedicated and compassionate peers. Fortunately, some of these individuals ended up in the same city as me and I am always inspired by their newest accomplishments. 

My love for psychology and the human mind and behaviour manifested during my IB psychology classes; I was truly fascinated by how impressionable the human mind is and wanted to help people improve their mental well-being. After SJI International, I completed my Honours Bachelor of Science Degree at McMaster University (Ontario, Canada), majoring in Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour. I believe the skills I learned from the teachers at SJI International during my IB years immensely prepared me for the fast-paced nature of the university. During my undergraduate degree, I was privileged to be involved in some fascinating research projects. I led a study which assessed the online presence of psychologists in Ontario and got to present my findings at a national conference. My thesis project assessed how Black youth’s conceptualisation of the mental health effects of cannabis on psychosis changes after playing a psychoeducational video game which our lab developed. Being exposed to cultural diversity all my life and especially through the people I met at SJI International, I developed an interest in understanding and addressing the mental health needs of underserved and minority groups in society. This interest was especially fostered during service projects at SJI International, like my service trip to a school in Cambodia, where my peers and I taught science and sports lessons. SJI International truly emphasized the importance of service to others and giving back to the community. With that spirit in mind, I knew I wanted to pursue a Master's and PhD in Clinical Psychology, so I could help with mental health treatments and interventions, especially in communities where individuals were at risk and had difficult social circumstances. 

 

I was taken by surprise after my first time applying to graduate programs within this space; they were extremely competitive and it seemed like no matter how many additional experiences I had completed during my undergraduate degree, getting in was going to be impossible. As someone who takes pride in her academic and extracurricular achievements, I was very disappointed when I didn’t get in my first time. However, I realised that if I truly wanted this and if it was meant to be for me, things would eventually fall into place in time. I picked myself my and tried to get the most research and clinical experiences I could during my one year before I reapplied. Making connections and following up with people was one of the most valuable skills I learned. I continued my part-time job as a behavioural therapist for children with autism, and seeing positive growth and development in my clients over the year was truly rewarding. I also currently work as a research assistant at a centre dedicated to the health of children and families and carry out research related to amplifying the voices of racialised youth and children in Ontario.

Through these experiences, I met so many wonderful professionals, learned numerous transferrable skills, and got to help wonderful children and families as they struggled with their mental well-being. As of last week, I learned that I got accepted into my top choice program and I will be starting my Masters in School and Clinical Child Psychology at the University of Toronto this Fall! This was not an easy journey and there were lots of hardships along the way. But my advice to all the IB graduates would be to never give up even though something seems impossible. If you are passionate about what you want to do and take the initiative to equip yourself with experiences that align with your goals, you will have a favourable outcome! Also, don’t forget to stop and enjoy the little moments along the way, take care of yourself and your mental wellbeing.

 

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