Diana Valvidia-Rivera (1st Quarter, 2007)

1st Quarter, 2007
Minority  Scholarship Winner
Diana Valvidia-Rivera

I am currently attending Western Kentucky University at an extended campus in Elizabethtown Kentucky and I am majoring in Psychology with a minor in Social Work. After graduating in Spring 2008 I am planning on obtaining a Masters Degree in Social Work and hope to gain additional knowledge and experience within the field along the way.

Upon graduation from Western Kentucky University, I am planning on getting into a Master’s Program in Social Work and thereafter going on to complete my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. In the future I would like to work with individuals from multicultural and otherwise diverse backgrounds, and I am consistently trying to increase my knowledge and experience in this particular area. I am currently trying to learn sign language and I am also polishing up my Spanish, since I am not perfectly fluent in this language. I am also constantly on the lookout for multicultural workshops, courses on persons with disabilities, and other courses offered that would contribute to or expand my current point of view within this particular area. I strongly believe that in order for a mutual acceptance within a culturally diverse society to develop, an extensive understanding and appreciation of other cultures and their customs and values is indispensable.

A Portion of Diana’s Winning Essay:

Diana Valdivia-Rivera

My personal interest in human services, more precisely in the field of psychology, began many years ago after witnessing my mother’s battle against the devastating effects of a severe decline in her mental health. Although she was never professionally diagnosed initially, my mother suffered from extreme bouts of depression, and the conditions and progressions of her daily life did nothing to help alleviate her feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Throughout years of lasting depressive states and the lack of professional help and treatment my mother’s mental health steadily deteriorated.

Unfortunately, none of my other family members were able to correctly identify her condition or even recognize that she was having a problem. At the same time, my mother was unable to effectively communicate her feelings to others and did not think to seek outside help. Thus, the causes for her suffering remained undetected.

Needless to say additional personal hardships and lifestyle changes over time only further contributed to her already fragile mental state, and therefore when faced with financial difficulties due to unemployment and the illness of her parents, my mother’s condition took a turn for the worse. When faced with distress that she felt unable to handle any longer, my mother, like many victims of depression, attempted suicide. Luckily, she did not succeed. Her desperate action, however, was a great eye-opener for me, especially since almost every family member had failed to recognize the seriousness of her illness (which was later diagnosed after she was in professional care following her suicide attempt), and even if anybody had suspected that she was suffering from depression, nobody had made any attempt to support her in seeking professional help.

Being only a teenager at the time, I had no knowledge of the symptoms or characteristics of this mental condition, and thus, possibly due to the shocking incident resulting from my mother’s illness, I rapidly developed great interest in the field of mental illnesses and conditions, not because I felt guilty about not realizing what was happening to my mother, but because I wanted to learn what factors could have offset and contributed to the grave development of this condition that almost cost my mother her life. While I perhaps wanted to investigate whether my mother’s mental condition had a genetic basis, I was also interested if the advancement of her illness could have been halted or prevented at some point.

At first I started reading up on certain mental disorders on my own, but eventually, when I enrolled in college, I decided to make psychology my major to conduct more in depth studies of psychological aspects on human life and overall personal health and development. I quickly came to realize that a great number of people nationwide were suffering not only from depression, but various other types of mental conditions or psychological disorders, and instantly wondered that if a sufficient number of helping professionals would be available to meet the increasing demands in mental health care in the future.

At the same time, however, I came to understand that mental health issues were not the only problems affecting individuals’ wellbeing in today’s society, but that socio-economic factors, such as poverty, unemployment, personal loss, domestic violence, and other problems in living could also have negative impacts on personal health and wellness. I further found that today an increasing number of children are affected by these problems and that more children than ever before were being diagnosed with psychological disorders.

I knew that human services was the field that I wanted to get into and thus, I decided to broaden my knowledge of social and environmental influences on individual lifestyles and adopted the academic disciplines of human services, social work, and sociology into my course of studies. Ideally, I would enjoy offering counseling services and working with children who are experiencing problems in living or distinct childhood problems. Primarily, because I believe that many problems in a person’s life are likely rooted somewhere along the lines of their childhood development, such as, for example, behavioral problems, insufficient self-esteem, or anxieties and phobias, I would like to focus my attention on providing services to especially to children. If such problematic conditions are in fact present in childhood, it is vital that they are detected in their early stages so that they will not pose potential impediments for proper age-specific development and will not create complications later on in the individual’s life.

In the case of my mother’s condition, I later came to understand that much of her lifetime disappointment that finally led to her succumbing to her depressive states could be traced back to some of her childhood experiences as well as unrealistic beliefs and expectations that she had developed at a very young age. As the negativity of her personal living conditions intensified over time, while her previous issues went unresolved, so did the impact on her mental health.

I believe that counseling can be a very dynamic but also challenging profession, that if employed correctly by the counselor can be an effective tool to help guide individuals to reach their potentials by understanding their behavior in relation to their environments, as well realizing their options in society by becoming aware of social support services and community programs.

I would like to work in the human services field, because I would like to be one of the professionals that help individual’s achieve self-awareness and reach their personal goals. I would like to further enrich my knowledge about various other social aspects and problems, and develop a higher understanding on how to best help individuals from diverse ethic, cultural, or socio-economic backgrounds and how to assist in finding resolutions to the differing problems in living. This field of study has always been of greatest interest to me, and I strongly believe that we will excel best in what interests us the most, and invest the most interest and energy into what we can do best.

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