STUDY 3: Aimee Schwager–“You Can Do It, Too!”

Aimee Schwager (with her school staple of a cup of Starbucks)

My academic journey started in 2010, as I walked through the front UW doors as a new student. I was feeling excited, grateful, but also overwhelmed, unsure of what I wanted to do, and lonely. In all honesty, my first year of university was difficult. My grades were not the best and I felt lost in my academic journey. During this time, I was also taking care of my mom who was sick with breast cancer and working two jobs.

My love for Psychology began when I took the Psychology courses “Drugs and Behavior” and “Mind, Brain, and Body.” My love further strengthened after taking courses in clinical psychology, developmental psychology, “Abnormal Behavior in Children and Adolescents,” and by working in a day care and other child care settings. It makes me really happy to work with children and help them grow. Another key moment that sparked my passion occurred in 2010 when my mom was having her last chemotherapy treatment. One of the nurses asked if I wanted to tour the children’s cancer care ward. While touring the ward, in that moment–I can’t explain it: I just knew that my passion in life is to help make a positive difference in people’s lives and work with children. Moreover, all my life, I was always and still am the go-to person for people when they needed advice, or someone to listen and be there for them. It brings me great joy to be that person to someone.

Later on in my Psychology undergraduate degree there was a bump in the road. I was in a car accident and suffered a concussion. I had to take time off of school for a few months, and this included having to miss PSYC-4100. Now, for those of you who have taken this specific course, you know it can be difficult sometimes. Indeed, it was a struggle and the journey to heal was not easy, but I made it over this bump, continued to push through the adversity by practicing constantly, studying, and being tutored. This hard work resulted in awesome final marks and a learning experience.

All in all, it took years of hard work, sacrifices, tears, overwhelming moments, joy, and laughter to build my GPA back up. I’m proud to say all of the hard work has paid off because I was made Student of Distinction 2016 and will be graduating in June 2017 with my Honours in Psychology degree! But ultimately, I am happy with where I am today!

Because of my Honours Psychology degree, research and teacher’s assistant experiences, good conversations with psychology professors, great friends, family, work and volunteering, I am a better, more knowledgeable, and skilled person today. I’ve definitely grown as a person from first year university, when I felt lost and was struggling with my grades to now: the strong, hard-working, caring, fun (and the Starbucks-addicted) person who I am today.

My last year at University has been very memorable: from spending good times with the Psych fam[ily], becoming a Health and Wellness Peer Educator, being a PSA executive team member, having the opportunity to meet awesome people in various areas in and outside of school, studying (and napping) dates, Starbucks trips (there were MANY of these), working on my thesis, and taking more courses.

My advice for current and future students is to never give up, stay focused on what makes you happy, and enjoy every moment. The journey wasn’t easy for me at times, but it was definitely worth it. You can still have the potential to succeed and do well, despite not getting the best grades or other obstacles that may be thrown your way. It is important to be kind to yourself especially in difficult times. It is also essential to take self-care breaks throughout your day. This combination will set you up for success and help you reach your goals.