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My Path into Clinical Psychology

As we grow and grow throughout the years, the question asked quite often is about our careers.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"Have you decided what you want to major in?"

"What is your dream career?"

"What do you do for a living?"

These are the famous questions we all have gotten at some point or are going to. Sometimes we can get so excited about telling someone our goals, and sometimes we may not get excited because of certain circumstances.

I think I always enjoyed these questions because it was something to look forward to for the future. It's pretty funny because this career question all started for me back in 1st grade when we had to make a notebook, and one of the pages was what we wanted to do when we grew up. I decided that I wanted to become a dentist. Where did I get that idea? I'm not sure. I laugh to this day when I see the change of career. I don't mind going to the dentist and always taking care of my teeth but having that job? I respect all dentists out there because that is hard work and not just for anyone. I appreciate you all!!!

When I was deciding on what I wanted to major in community college, I chose on Psychology since that was the subject I enjoyed in high school.

I had been exposed to Psychology earlier in my life with therapy. When I was younger, I would not talk at all in school. My teachers became worried about my progress and wanted to know if it was the same at home.

Let's say I would not stop talking at home. When they spoke with my mom, she answered saying, "well, she talks all the time with the family." My mom and teachers all decided that I see the elementary school's psychologist, so she could help me with my words or find out why I was so shy. We concluded that I had a hard time with the words that started with "ch-" so chair and cheese. It sounded like I was saying care or keys instead. I did not want people to make fun of me, so I did not talk to others. It was cool having someone to vent to, even at a young age. We go through things in our lives, and I feel like each phase is essential in our growth

In high school, my family and I had to go to a psychologist for my dad's residency case. The psychologist did these drawing and individual activities. He took time to get to know us as a family. At this point, I knew it was something I wanted to do as a career. I shared my passion for psychology with him. He told me that with the hour conversation we had, he could see me in this field. He gave me some good programs to check out and this moment in my life changed me forever. It's what helped me stay motivated during my educational journey.

To not make this story too long, the psychology classes I took in community college were so informative and a new level to my knowledge of what I had learned before. I became a part of the honor society, Psi Beta, and started with research. A couple of the members and I did a fictional case study asking about a scenario:

if a person initiates minor unwanted sexual contact, which is this case scenario with our story, was a kiss...

Does the person's gender affect the way the situation and the person are perceived?

The majority of responses said that they thought the guy should have asked for consent, but everyone felt super bad and defended the story when it came to the girl. We always got asked if the cases given out were different since some participants got the boy and some got the girl. The only difference between each case study was the switch of gender.

It was fascinating seeing all the answers from everyone. I do have to say that our participant demographic was just a tiny part of one specific group, my community college honors program. The study focused on college students, so let's say there is still a lot to research on this topic.

Back to my career path, this experience helped me gain knowledge of research and let me see if I liked it or not. I enjoy the process a lot of getting all the details together, but I would say it is not my favorite but I would not mind doing it once and a while. My love was in the clinical work and I did not even know it.

When I got to UC Irvine to study Psychological Sciences, I did not know what to expect. The classes I took were challenging, but I became more knowledgeable of Psychology than I ever had before..again. At this point in my education, I was confused about what I wanted to do with Psychology after college. I only had two years to really figure it out since I was a transfer. It seems like a lot of time but time sure does fly. There are so many different aspects to this field, and honestly, you want to do a lot of them sometimes. With the three Clinical Psychology courses I took, my mind just enjoyed the learning and implications. It was so interesting how important clinicians were to the field and in therapy. Since that point, my two years in my undergraduate studies were towards one goal: getting the degree and going for my master's.

Fast forward to my senior year of college....

I started telling myself a gap year was best for me, which is why I had not applied in Fall 2019 to any graduate program. I continue to plan this until around May 2020 that I got an Instagram ad about Pepperdine's Graduate School of Education and Psychology in between stories.

At first, I was like, " said you were doing a gap year, get off the ad," but I did not leave the ad. I kept staring at it until I finally let go. My last quarter was just about to end in less than two weeks, and graduation was right around the corner. I decided to get more information online, but I did not realize that I was requesting an advisor to help me with the application process. I'm grateful I did not know that because I was so nervous already when they called me an hour later. Let's say this experience wouldn't have been the best without the admissions team and advisors. I asked the questions I needed to and was on my way to maybe starting later that fall. I told some family and friends that it was a future program but not for this particular year. The only people that helped me decide was my parents. They told me I had nothing to lose and to work hard as I always do. I started and finished my application during the last two weeks of June before I submitted it. The deadline was coming so soon for the October cohort. I spent the rest of July wondering and sending anything else that was necessary. I finally got my acceptance letter, and I got accepted. I could not believe that I was going to start my Master's Program in late September. I was going to start my journey in studying Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy. I always wanted to help others like they have helped me and it brought me back to how much I loved the psychologist's activities back then in high school. It is a full circle.

My future career will begin in less than three years.

Manifesting out there:

My Future Private Practice: Smile Jess Action

Writing a book on my journey

Having a TEDTalk

Growing Smile Jess Action into a way of living for so many.

Thank you for reading a glimpse of my story!



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