Program: Master of Arts in School and Clinical Child Psychology (SCCP)
Expected year of graduation: 2021
What led you to apply to APHD at OISE?
Part of what made the SCCP program so appealing was the combined focus on school and clinical psychology. School represents an environment in which children undergo a large portion of their growth and development and thus it’s a great opportunity to intervene with kids who would benefit from additional supports. The knowledge and skills that are required for the practice of school psychology and clinical child psychology not only overlap but also enhance one another, and so I thought that this combined perspective would be invaluable to my growth and development as a clinician. OISE, as a hub for education and teaching seemed like a perfect home for expanding my perspective on the systems that govern this work. I was also eager to return to Canada and the GTA after spending 6 years south of the border.
What was your past work experience like?
Much of my experience prior to applying to grad school was in the area of cognitive developmental research. I worked in several labs that explored cognitive aspects of young children’s ability to learn language and understand mathematical and spatial concepts. After undergrad, I spent two years working as a lab manager at a brand new research lab at New York University (NYU), which solidified my desire to pursue graduate studies and provided a great opportunity to hone key analytical, design, and management skills. I also used this time to confirm that I wanted to pursue clinical work through various volunteering roles. Two of my most memorable experiences included working as a responder on a crisis and suicide hotline and as a “Peds Pal” on the pediatric ward of a Brooklyn hospital.
Are there any past accomplishments that you would like to highlight?
Moving 8 hours away from home for undergrad was a challenge all on its own; attending Princeton as first-gen college student from an immigrant family, I found myself surrounded by brilliant and interesting people all the time. It led to many instances of imposter syndrome–a lot of “what gives me the right to be here?” It’s something that, to a degree, has followed me here to U of T, but over the years I’ve learned to get out my own head and talk about these feelings (which are not at all uncommon). I’ve stopped focusing on perfection and acknowledge that there are times when I can be “good enough” which has done a world of good for my productivity and happiness. Looking back, I can see how much I’ve grown and recognize these feelings as both normal and irrational. I see my failures and shortcomings as opportunities for growth and try to find something positive in these moments. Acknowledging and embracing these feelings – it’s a work in progress.
What is one thing you like most about your experience so far at OISE?
On basically my first day at OISE, one of the upper-year students in the SCCP program spoke to my cohort and told us that we made it, we did it, we’re here! Our journey towards becoming psychologists was no longer an “if”, it was a “when”; our only job was to enjoy, appreciate, and get the most out of the process. This sentiment is demonstrative of the overall sense of camaraderie that I’ve experienced within my cohort, in my classes, and throughout all of OISE. Everyone is willing to share their experiences and learn from one another, and it helps us all grow and become better students, academics, psychologists, educators, and, most of all, people.
What is your favourite thing about Toronto?
I love this city because it has so much character; from the extensive blend of cultures and languages, to the unique mix of architecture ranging from historic to modern. The city and its people are so diverse, and I can spend days just walking around and taking it all in. After living in New York city for a few years, it’s also refreshing to be surrounded by friendly Torontonians once again!
What does your “weekend” typically look like?
I usually use the weekend as a “reset” from the rest of the week. After a long walk with our puppy, Murphy, I usually clean up the clutter that’s accumulated over the course of a few busy days. I’m attempting to fit in more “fun” reading to break up all the coursework and professional development stuff that piles up throughout the course of the year. If it’s nice out, you can find me on a blanket at the park enjoying the sun, reading, and people watching.
What are some of your hobbies & interests (cooking, sports, travelling, etc?)
Soccer has always been a huge part of my life. My two sisters and I basically grew up on the pitch, so I still love playing and watching all the big games. I try to do something semi-active every day. You can usually find me practicing yoga, running, playing tennis, or hiking whenever I have a spare moment. My husband and I are also really into board games and cards; we have an ongoing cribbage rivalry where we’ve kept track of the winner of every game we’ve ever played (it’s pretty evenly matched…the current score is 52-50 in my favour).
What is your favorite type of cuisine?
Hard question! I grew up in a tightly-knit Croatian family where food was always the means to bring everyone together, so Eastern European cuisine will always have a soft spot in my heart. Since moving back to Canada, I’ve also enjoyed exploring all the various culinary options that Toronto has to offer and can’t say that I’ve found anything I haven’t liked. I can never go wrong with Indian or Japanese food, though.
Where do you see yourself after you achieve your degree from APHD?
After finishing the MA program, I intend to continue on and pursue a PhD in School and Clinical Child Psychology here at OISE. It’s a relatively long journey to the completion of the degree, but there are a lot of opportunities to explore interests and apply new clinical knowledge in a variety of different settings. It’s important to me that I believe in the work that I’m doing; my ultimate high-level goal is to apply psychological science and clinical knowledge to help children who have experienced adversity to thrive and access the resources that they need in order to effectively learn and grow. Whether I’ll end up in a school, clinic, hospital, research centre, or a combination of these settings is too early to tell since I’m pretty early in the process.