Ylan joined Project IMPACT in Fall 2005, and graduated in March 2009 with her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology. She has relocated to the Midwest, is getting accustomed to the changes of seasons that include snow, and has been accepted and started work on her Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology at Aragon University.
What has getting an higher education been like for you?
Getting a higher education was never an option for myself. From the time that I was a child, I knew that I wanted a prestigious career that would require so much of my precious time in order to achieve it! J My family always said that if it was worth having, it was going to require a lot of hard work and sacrifice. That has definitely been my journey.
What were some of the greatest challenges you faced in reaching your goal(s)?
My greatest challenges were health-related, and somewhat financial. As a person who has Sickle Cell Disease, there were SEVERAL occasions where I was too tired, in pain and medicated, and/or hospitalized to even give an ounce my best efforts in school. Attendance has been my greatest obstacle. In addition, I worked full-time, primarily on the graveyard shift, in order to put myself through school. It was physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. To make matters worse, I had come across individuals who were highly toxic and extremely discouraging who offered nothing but negativity.
How did you overcome those challenges and reach your goal(s)?
With all the complications that could arise with my health, job, and relationships, I was brought to a crossroad. Do or die. I had to shed the negative energy (some of which was removed from my life without any choice of my own) and re-focus on the life that I wanted for myself and my future family. By removing the stressors, I was able to balance. I was able to focus. And, of course, replacement of the distress with eustress led to a better-managed health condition. By placing my goals in the forefront of my thinking, I was able to slide right across that stage at graduation!!! J
How would you define "success"?
For me, success is the emotion that one feels when they have accomplished any part of their greater personal plan in life. When people say that they are successful, it's not really the money that they are referring to, although that is how we typically measure our success. It's more so about reaching a goal that further enables them to make an impact on their environment.
If you have graduated, explain what you are doing now, and how your education has helped you succeed in your current status.
After moving half-way across the country and taking on the new title of Army Wife, I am actually moving on toward the pursuit of my Master's degree in Forensic Psychology; so, I cannot truly account for the doors of opportunity in my career field just yet. What I can say is that there were opportunities for advancement in my previous job, but I was more interested in the career. Along with school, I will be volunteering with a local mental health organization and probation department to beef up my hands-on, field-related experience.
What was the most important thing you learned that inspired you in your education?
My inspiration often came from my personal experiences outside of school. I noticed that so many people are simply in existence and not living. My question has always been, Why? The passion that I have always had for helping others is what brought me to Psychology. It gave me the opportunity to understand the reasons for behavioral patterns. Today, I have finally narrowed the passion to a specific area alongside the Criminal Justice System, which, I feel, could use a little more consideration when evaluating behavioral patterns of the victim, perpetrator, and administrators of justice.
How has Project IMPACT helped you in your success?
The staff members of Project IMPACT have been phenomenal supporters in the pursuit of my goals. When I was sick and/or hospitalized, they served as Advocates for myself, maintaining an open line of communication with my instructors. I was also doing this, but having P.I. back me up only confirmed that I was serious about my education. Also, the opportunity to register in advance, and pre-schedule potential note-takers for the days that I was sick were immeasurable gestures of support of my goals.
What advice would you give to other students just starting their education?
My advice is this: 1) Beware! You may encounter haters in life (job, personal relationships, home, school, etc.) that are not happy for your accomplishments, or attempts at higher education. Rather, they see you as more of a threat and competitor. Not everyone is worth your energy. 2) Make yourself the priority in order to make a way for a more prosperous future. 3) Learn to pick your battles! 4) Money is necessary for higher education, but do not let the lack of money be the reason that you do not follow your dreams. 5) Above all, keep God (or your higher being) first!