Hi everyone and happy week 2! This week we had our 2017-2018 Psi Chi president, Sergio Maldonado Aguiniga, stop by to talk about his experience in the counseling psychology program at Purdue University as a second year Ph.D. student.
Why a Ph.D. in counseling psychology?
In his talk he mentioned that a few of the reasons he decided to choose the counseling psychology program at Purdue, instead of other programs, were the flexibility and the fact that it was fully funded which played a large role. He shared the difference between clinical psychology and counseling psychology. He described counseling psychology as "strength and optimal aspect + holistic approach, and also relating to the multicultural and social justice field" but mentioned that clinical psychology does not focus on these aspects as much. He decided to go with counseling psychology due to his interest in the field of social justice after experiencing a personal tragedy.
What did Sergio feel prepared him?
The McNair Scholar program was a large reason that he felt prepared due to the research opportunities that strengthened his skills and taught him new ones.
Psi Chi was another program that he felt prepared him because it provided accountability he needed to make sure he wasn't procrastinating. Psi Chi also provided him with a large support group and sense of community that kept him going.
Prison Education Program and Reintegration Academy
He felt that this program prepared him as well because he was able to get hands-on experience dealing with social justice issues within the prison system. Social justice was a reason that he decided to pursue the counseling psychology program as well because that was something that he was very passionate about.
Justice Us for Youth
This is a nonprofit organization based in the city of Pomona that provides mentorships for "at risk" youth. He felt that this prepared him due to the hands-on aspect of it that provided him with valuable experience
Last Few Thoughts.
Sergio emphasized the fact that feeling "burnt out" is inevitable and you will either face it when you're in your last years of undergrad or during your next venture into higher education. He stated, "If you want to go to grad school, don't feel obligated to take on e-board positions in Psi Chi or any other club. When I was applying for grad schools, I didn't mention Psi Chi at all."
Another thing that he also talked about was to consider the type of environment and culture of each program. He said to look for how supportive they are, what their values are, and do they understand that sometimes life happens and you need a break, He talked about how when a family member was sick, he had to make the decision to choose between taking off a semester and being set back a year in order to come back home and take care of his family member, or just finish this semester and go back home as soon as it was done. Upon talking with advisors, he came to the decision that he would take the semester off because he values family and the university was supportive of his decision and he is also still receiving funding from them.