September 25, 2011 - 5:36 PM
The feeling of beginning an academic year at a school the size of the University of Oregon is incredible. I've spent much of the last 3 months here this summer, and the silence of a college town minus the entire college has helped me recover from a hectic junior year. Now, walking down 13th street, I get the feeling that everything is building towards the school year- roads under construction are now re-surfaced and safe, freshmen wander, jaws open, as they see their beautiful new school for the first time in the light of summer, and their parents clutch the massive stacks of textbooks just purchased while looking around and feeling relieved at tuition money well spent, judged by the positive environment.
As a senior, things both look and feel different than they did when I was in the shoes of those freshmen. Visually, having spent three years here, construction and renovation projects have altered almost every surface of the campus. Internally, I watch with a slight sadness as people quickly filter into town, remembering the joy of my first days. When I catch myself somber, I remind myself of the great year ahead of me. My courses include 'Greek and Roman Epic', and the Psychology course 'Culture and Mental Health'- two classes that I've looked forward to taking but have not had any time for until now. In this last summer I've started working at the Annual Giving Program as a student fundraiser again, after about 9 months off. I was nervous to come back, but working the summer term reminded me of how fun my job is.
Whether my nostalgia is tinted with happiness or sadness, it's been undeniable that these last three years living in Eugene and attending the University of Oregon have been, developmentally speaking, the most important years of my life. Although my career path is outside of the work that I've done in my majors (as it is, I'm convinced, for most), I have learned much from my courses. I have discovered the Pragmatist school of thought through my Philosophy classes, and I doubt that a day will go by that I won't in some way use the knowledge that I've acquired from that course. In this last year, taking theoretical courses on literature has been incredibly useful in helping me develop some ideas for my to-be field of Psychology. The social function of college is equally important to the educational one, and I've made many friends I know already to be lifelong through the University. Although I may soon leave Eugene, I doubt that it will ever leave me.
September 4, 2011 - 1:45 PM
With my last year of school arriving, I have needed to make some important decisions about the life I'd like to leave once I'm done at the University of Oregon. This has mostly taken the form of asking, "What does a professional philosopher look like?" In attempting to answer my question, I've slowly come to realize that my heart is in psychology, specifically psychotherapy. A psychotherapist must play many roles, and philosopher is in some way one of them.
Unfortunately, If I'd like to finish school in four years, adding a psychology major or minor wouldn't be possible. My inability to get a psychology degree has worried me, since I expect that psychology Masters and PhD programs only accept psychology undergraduates. With this problem in mind, I went to see the adviser for the psychology department last spring. She gave me very useful advice, that I have followed to the letter. First, it's important that I get a fantastic score on the GRE psychology test to prove that even without having taken many psychology courses, I still know the material (and very well). Secondly, I need to gain practical experience in the field. I was directed by my adviser to a local organization who provide housing and mental health services for the Eugene community.
In the past, I was fortunate enough to be in a unique middle school, where all of my classes had two special education students. Their mental disorders quickly became boring topics of conversation and we interacted with them in the same manner that we did with every other student. This experience stayed with me, solidifying into the belief that full community integration will always be preferable to a mental hospital. Now, at this organization, I'm getting the chance to really reaffirm my beliefs, since my job is to take an individual who may feel stuffed up in a group home and bring him out into the community.
Now, a few months later in September, I've spent some of my summer working one on one with an individual with a mental disorder at this organization. Unfortunately, the client that I was working with was having some issues and I've not been able to volunteer with him for these past 2 weeks. The staff at the particular location that I work at are extremely friendly and have told me that if I'd like to come back in the fall that there would still be a place for me, which I am very thankful for. Not only is volunteering at this organization enormously valuable in providing me an actual background in practicing psychology from which to approach schools when I apply, I'm also learning an enormous amount from having these practical experiences.
It is experiences like these that have made me thankful for pursuing my (new) goal of working in psychology. Among my philosophy courses that I've taken, a few have been on the American Pragmatists.. These philosophers believed that theory and philosophy must have a meaningful connection to the real world as we know it, and that philosophers must meaningfully interact with non-philosophers and non-academics to create democratic change. Working with the client at the group home at this organization has felt like bringing the words of John Dewey or William James into life- instead of only sitting in a classroom and talking about it (a very important first step, no doubt) I've taken the incredible amount that I've learned into the world, in some small way. This first taste has been wonderful, I'm excited to continue working at this organization through the school year, and even more excited for the career that lies ahead of me.