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Studying to become a clinical child psychologist to help youth who have experienced major stress and trauma

I was lying in a hospital bed, shortly after brain surgery, experiencing the same sense of loss and angst I had felt after losing my father. It was at this moment that my interests in clinical psychology became more focused on the goal of studying and treating child and adolescent anxiety and depression. This realization built upon the general sense I had as a teen that I wished to pursue a career in helping others. The concept of therapy and counseling was something I had an interest in as early as age 13, and by my junior year in high school, I knew that I wanted to study psychology in college. Prior to surgery, I had already developed a passion for studying this captivating field. At first, I wanted to earn a medical degree. However, early into my college education, I realized my goal was to earn a doctoral degree in clinical psychology because positive mental health is something that I value and believe is just as important as physical health.

My undergraduate experience at the University of Florida includes serving for four years as a research assistant, a time-intensive commitment to many hours designing experiments and integrating data for various projects I participated in. Additionally, I was accepted for a teaching assistant position for an upper-level psychology course and found the teaching experience challenged me to learn even more about psychology.

Furthermore, an internship at Clinical Psychology Associates of North Central Florida provided me with insight into the demands of clinical evaluation and treatment by psychologists and neuropsychologists in private practice. I was able to participate in a complex clinical milieu that involved multiple providers and assistants serving a private clinic population that provided demanding comprehensive neuropsychological assessments. My experiences in a social service internship at Pace Center for Girls reinforced my interest and enthusiasm in studying and helping youth who have experienced major stress and trauma. This internship made me realize how important diversity and social justice are to me. The challenges the children and teens in the program face inspire me to face my own challenges and succeed in my professional development in order to ultimately give back to a community that has unknowingly given me so much.

I had neurosurgery at age 21, which followed efforts to cure epilepsy, a disability that I developed at age 16. The surgery was successful, the recovery difficult, but ultimately it allowed me to continue in my research activities and pursue experience in clinical settings. After my acute recovery and a need for rest and rehabilitation, I started working two jobs to support myself before resuming my studies. Miraculously, I have been able to balance working full-time, going to school full time, and maintaining part-time research assistantships and internships. This personal experience makes me confident about my resilience, perseverance, and willingness to devote myself to reach my goal of becoming a clinical child psychologist.

We are proud to announce Lily Nelson is one of the current JustJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘heart’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.

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34 comments

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  • Lily is amazing wow! Her story is so inspirational! I hope she achieves success in becoming a clinical child psychologist so she can help children achieve and maintain a good mental health!

  • Your story is very inspirational, Lily! I appreciate you letting us get to know about your extensive medical treatment and how you cultivated it into a passion for mental health. I wish you all the best with your graduate studies!

  • Thank you, Lily, for sharing your heart, your goals, and your commitment to give back to others in need. It is amazing how life’s experiences so often guide us toward a path that we would not have otherwise chosen. You have obviously taken what was an extremely difficult life experience and converted it into positive results in your life, and you will no doubt continue on to contribute to the bettering the lives of others.

  • Awesome job, Lily!!! Best of luck to you In pursuing your goals! In the words of The Smith Street Band: “You are an amazing person and you’ll do amazing things.”

  • Amazing story and you have overcome so many trials. You will be great with teens because you will be able to relate to them. Good luck, Lily!

  • If only we could all turn what is perceived as obstacles into inspiration as Lily has done here! There will be a multitude of children who will no doubt benefit from Lily.

  • Lily is one of the strongest and nicest people I have ever met. There’s nothing she can’t accomplish once her mind is set on it.

  • Lily’s passions for psychology and for helping others have been a fundamental aspect of who she is for as long as I have known her. Her journey is inspirational and she truly deserves this scholarship to help her help many, many more people.

  • What a wonderful and inspirational story, Lily will obtain her goal, her passion… It’s in her genes.

    Way to go Lily, you’ve got this!

  • I am especially impressed that Lily chose PACE Center for Girls for her internship. PACE is a school for girls who have suffered a trauma that puts them at risk for dropping out of a main-stream public school. It is a temporary haven where the girls can stay in school while accessing the support they need to heal until they are ready to return to their regular school. Its success rate is impressive, yet it often is overlooked. I’m sure Lily’s experience working with these girls, in combination with her clearly ferocious work ethic and academic success make her a young woman who will contribute much to the world.

  • Lily knows whereof she speaks. She has accomplished so much and overcome every obstacle thrown in her path. The resilience and strength exhibited in her accomplishments so far are indicitave of her will to succeed in her chosen field. Best of luck, Lily.

  • I couldn’t think of a better young woman to invest in. Help her grow and she will return the investment tenfold for people that need her.

  • Lily is one of the toughest people I know; at the same time, she is also one of the most caring. Her personal experiences give her firsthand insight into the unbelievable struggles faced by adolescent patients, as well as the incredible results that are possible through excellent care. I can’t think of a better person to pursue helping others as a clinical psychologist.

  • A goal shaped by personal experience and driven by passion is one which is worthwhile and righteous. Lily embodies both of these elements. Her personal triumphs alone are inspiring, while her academic vigor solidifies her position as exceptional and deserving candidate.

  • Lily is a wonderful and gifted young lady who has overcome tremendous obstacles with grace and dogged determination. I would highly recommend Lily to receive this scholarship. She is a shining example of the best we can all be. Wade Jones

  • Lily is kind-spirited and incredibly inspirational. She is entirely deserving of this scholarship to further her dreams of continuing to help others. With the amount of help she has undoubtedly given many of the people who’re in these comments and to countless others who aren’t, I would say she’s unequivocally earned some help for herself.

  • So proud of you, Lily. Your hard work and dedication will pay off. It’s astounding to see the incredible person you’ve blossomed into from that little 4 year old girl I first knew. The field of psychology will be blessed to have you. Sending you all my positive thoughts!!

  • I’ve known this amazing human since she was very young. She deserves this scholarship because she is driven and hardworking. She will go far in this world, and with the help of this scholarship, she’ll be able to pursue her passion while making the world a better place. Please choose her! ❤️

  • Lily’s story is such an inspiration. She is the kind of person that you want in your corner, backing you and giving you advice on life. She would make such a great psychologist. She’s understanding and knowledgeable of the world and every kind of person inside it. Her superpower is that she can connect with anyone that she meets. She so deserving of this award!

  • To my best friend in the entire world. You are such an inspiration to me and everyone that meets you. Your passion and love for your career sets you apart from everyone and you shine in the most unique way. If there is anyone else in this entire world more deserving of this award, I’d like to meet them. I love you so much Lily! You will always do amazing things.. best friends till we’re old people ❤❤