Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

I am the only child of Vietnamese refugees who grew up in poverty and crossed dangerous oceans to escape the Vietnam War. They brought with them trauma and disorder and raised me in a dysfunctional home full of domestic violence. My alcoholic father beat my mother regularly, who likewise physically abused me.

Despite my family dynamics, I excelled academically and earned a degree from USC. Thereafter, I acquired a job that helped disabled individuals obtain federal benefits. Many of my clients had mental illnesses; I enjoyed learning about their conditions and found the work stimulating and rewarding. I discovered I enjoyed and had an innate talent for working with people with mental health issues.

Outwardly, I was thriving but inside my childhood traumas plagued me; I was severely depressed and had constant suicidal ideations. In 2013, I attempted suicide. I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

My life changed drastically. The road to recovery was arduous and unrelenting. I tried dozens of medications, many of which had intolerable side effects. I was unable to work and with great shame, moved back home. During these years, I attempted suicide six more times.

During recovery I began intense psychotherapy. Medication was helpful, but therapy was life changing. It helped me heal from the traumas of my childhood, cope with my symptoms, learn to love and accept myself, and ultimately live a healthy life. To say that it positively impacted and changed my life is an understatement.

The culmination of these events lead me to pursue a career in professional psychology. I am good with people and enjoy helping them; I have a profound understanding of what it is like to live with a mental illness and to live in a healthy manner; and, I have first-hand experience of the power of therapy. I want to guide those like me on their journey towards recovery and to empower them to manifest the life they not only desire, but fully deserve.

Nancy from California
Azusa Pacific University