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

My father immigrated to the United States from Lebanon before my birth. He had his parents and siblings for support and despite his efforts to do everything in his power to provide for his family, we often lived in low socioeconomic areas where violence, crime, and fear were not uncommon. Once I graduated high school and was ready to start college my firsthand experiences in the communities I was part of led me to realize the lack of mental health resources in these areas. Even at a young age I realized one small way I could repay my community for their relentless support of my endeavors was to aim to fill this gap. As a first-generation college student it was very difficult to navigate the application process, registering for classes, and everything else that is involved with starting an educational journey, but I knew the difference I could make to those most important to me would be worth any tough situation I would be put in.
Not only are mental health resources few and far between for these communities in Fresno and the surrounding Central Valley, but when there is an accessible resource it is unimaginably expensive considering the surrounding people have just enough for the bare necessities and even then sometimes have to get by without. One of my career goals for after my graduation from the doctorate of psychology program is to either work for or start a nonprofit mental health center with subsidized access to therapy and related necessities. As a trained professional I hope to become an advocate for neglected groups, such as minorities or those with low income, in the realm of practicing psychologists so that others will recognize that this is not just a local phenomenon and that may other regions face the same challenges and lack of resources. Sometimes people need help being heard and getting what they need; I hope to be the voice for these people so they can have full access to a resource everyone is deserving of.

Natalie from California
Alliant International University