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Sunday, March 18, 2012

A little about my journey so far ..

My name is Samantha Utain and I am currently a first year EDS student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (studying to be a school psychologist) and a Clinician for a private non-profit agency, where I work in a school to assist children with behavioral health needs who’ve experienced some form of trauma. I have a passion for helping others and enjoy the challenge of advocating for children and families in need of guidance. My interests in the field of psychology are primarily in studying areas of brain functioning, learning, and human development. I previously completed the school psychology master’s program at PCOM in 2008 and after gaining valuable experience working in the field, became confident in my decision to continue pursuing a career as a school psychologist.

I spent time exploring my interests in working with children diagnosed with autism and gained training in providing treatment oriented services within a school to children identified with behavioral health concerns, while also considering programs focused on speech and language pathology and clinical/counseling psychology. My decision to apply to the EDS program at PCOM came quickly after realizing that my interests in several areas of the field reflected significant roles of a school psychologist in different ways. Although my decision to pursue a career as a school psychologist originally began when I was a sophomore in high school, the idea of not allowing myself to feel solidified in my decision by exploring other interests- felt a little bit frightening at the time. Looking back, I realize that some of the most important decisions I’ve made have been influenced by one quote that I heard years ago in the movie “Girl Interrupted”- but quoted by William Joseph Slim, “ When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take - choose the bolder.” I often reflect on this idea to be sure of my choices and to feel confident in my decisions. I’ve realized that figuring out which courses of action are boldest continues to be the most challenging part, but have found that trusting in life’s process, taking risks, and listening to your intellect helps get you to as close as you may need to be.

During my childhood, my parents impressed on me that the most influential way to solidify yourself as an individual is through education. For as long as I can remember, focusing on my education and future career was my main priority and focus, so taking a risk in questioning my decision was difficult to accept for a very long time. In the process, I learned that taking risks every once in a while can be healthy and even when you think you may have the answers you’re looking for- living your way into them can be meaningful, too! Although many of my experiences growing up provided me with a sensitivity for individual differences and a passion for problem solving, I've found that learning to trust in the decisions I am confident in and continuing my career at PCOM, has been one of the bravest and most necessary choices I have made. My previous experiences in the master’s program made it easy to decide on applying to the EDS program, as I felt PCOM offered supportive and professional staff who worked hard at preparing their students for success in the field, as well as, in the classroom.

So far, my experiences in the EDS program have been positive. We are already a few weeks into the third semester of our first year and have been fortunate to have the guidance of our professors as well as one another. Our cohort is full of intelligent, friendly, and supportive individuals- whose ideas and experiences show their passion for the field as well as their dedication to their future careers as school psychologists. I admire their persistence in continuing on from the MS program without too long of a break yet, and am excited to continue learning from all of them!

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