Gloria joined Project IMPACT in Fall Term 2005, and continues to work diligently towards reaching her goal of being a graduate student in Psychology. As she nears the completion of her undergraduate program, she reflected on her challenges and successes in the following interview.
What has getting an higher education been like for you?
My education has always meant to me the biggest dream - to graduate, get a job, get married and live "The American Dream" that my parents intended for me. Being where I am now, a senior near graduation with good standing grades, has meant tackling challenges, doing all the right things to cope with negative feelings and hold deep in my heart my values in life.
What were some of the greatest challenges you faced in reaching your goal(s)?
I was diagnosed with bi-polar at age 14. All throughout high school I was in and out of hospitals and unable to attend my classes. My mother feared I wouldn't graduate from high school. I was up and down in my moods. I would burst into tears one moment and laugh the next not knowing why I was the way I was. My parents being immigrants, didn't know how to care for me, so I made the decision to seek counseling and psychiatric help on my own. My parents signed my authorization to seek treatement and drove me to the library where I insisted on reading self-help books to learn more about my illness and how to cope.
How did you overcome those challenges and reach your goal(s)?
Because, I need to take medication for my bi-polar, my cognitive functioning is slightly impaired. I cannot memorize terms and theories even after studying. I would do poorly on exams. But since my goal in life is to graduate with a Bachelors in Psychology, go to graduate school and go out in the world to make something of myself, I didn't give up!
How would you define "success"?
I think in order to be successful, I had to hold on tight to what means a lot to me and not let anyone take that away! My identity stems from how well I treat others and how far I get in this world. I think I am successful because I keep trying no matter how hard it is to achieve, keep on my path to reaching my goals no matter how much life hurts and always believe the best in me! I think in order for me to be be successful, I have laid out what I want to accomplish. I want to go to graduate school in Psychology, practice therapy for several years, and then become a published writer of self-help books. To be successful, I take with me the positive outcomes and look at the negative outcomes as a challenge to overcome. Getting a bad grade doesn't mean that I am a failure, what it does mean is that I will work harder to compensate and be successful in the next class.
What doors of opportunity have been opened for you as a result of your education?
I have had many great outcomes for me because of my education. I have been a Mental Health Internship, and have been a staff writer for the university's newspaper.
What was the most important thing you learned that inspired you in your education?
The most important thing I learned that inspired my education was to always seek help when I needed it and not to be afraid to ask.
How has Project IMPACT helped you in your success?
Project Impact has helped me with my success in infinite ways. The Program Coordinator has always guided me when I needed guidiance and at the same time challenged me when I needed to grow. The Wellness Counselor has always been there when I needed to deal with emotional issues that cames with my stressors and bipolar. The Assistive Technology Instructor has always been caring when I needed reassurance of myself as a student and a person.
What advice would you give to other students just starting their education?
I think getting an education is one of life's greatest gifts. You learn skills to jumpstart your career in something you are passionate about and not just do a job to pay the bills. If you think that it is too late or too difficult to start school, I would challege you on this: How is it too late to work towards being happy, accomplished and successful? How can it be difficult if you have gone as far as you have gone in your life? Why not challenge yourself to the next step and see how far you can go?