Help others. That is my personal vision statement that I wrote several years ago in an attempt to pinpoint my career goals. It’s really that simple. This is my passion. To be able to help others. Mostly this applies to people, but is not limited to people. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love dogs and try to keep as many as I can in my home. My favorite part of Christmas is in the giving, not the receiving, of gifts. I relish opportunities to be the good Samaritan on the side of the road, sometimes literally on the side of the road. I have always found joy in making something better for someone. My primary love languages are Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation, so these are the ways I focus my help (more on the 5 Love Languages in another blog post). Volunteering with my church to wash dishes for Saturday brunch or presenting Life Skills classes at Mission of Hope. Helping with chores and errands around the house. Making a stranger smile with a look or a kind word. These are my favorite parts of life.
So, it’s no wonder why I became a Psychologist, but I was not always aware of this career path. I began my freshman year at the University of North Texas (Go Mean Green!) as a Mathematics major. I had done well in math during junior high and high schools, taking advanced courses and doing well. But, something about Calculus II my freshman year. The excitement and fun of math was no longer there for me. I struggled for a few semesters, like many college students, with an undecided major. Until I took an introductory Psychology course. I was hooked immediately. Learning about the whys of human behavior was fascinating. I wanted to understand other people. I wanted to understand myself. I kept taking more Psychology courses and my interest continued to deepen and grow. I began to view Psychology as the vehicle I could use to help others as part of my career path. At the same time, I was taking a career counseling course to help me pick a major. The results of the assessment I took were consistent. Psychology or English. English or Psychology. Sometimes they would switch between first and second place, but these were always my top two results for my interest areas. My path became a little clearer, but this was not the only influence.
Visiting Terrill Hall at UNT where I found and studied Psychology
Photo Credit: Audrey White-November, 2017
While I was a college student at UNT, I had a wide variety of friends. There were wild and rambunctious musician friends I spent a lot of time with. There were serious and committed students I befriended. Some of my friends were similar to me in many ways and many of my friends were different from me in very significant ways. College was a time of social exploration and away from my family, I did some exploring as well as forming my value system. One thing was consistent though. I was the guy that people came to when they were upset. If someone was crying because of a relationship break-up or heartache, I was called in to support. When a friend was having panic attacks, I was the person to calm everyone down and manage the situation. Friends would come to me during the day with grief or in the middle of the night with depression. Without formal education, I somehow had a calm presence and some listening skills that seemed to be effective for my distressed friends.
So, academically and socially, I was being pulled into the profession of Psychology. A world that I had little prior knowledge about. In my time in high school, Psychology was not offered as a course and no one I had ever known had anything to do with Psychology. It has been an adventure that took me to the plains of West Texas to study at the graduate level at Texas Tech University (Go Red Raiders!) only to return to Denton for my internship at the Counseling Center at Texas Woman’s University (note: not Women’s; common mistake). It has also brought me to Oklahoma. Stillwater, more specifically. With my first post graduate job at Oklahoma State University (Go Pokes!) and now with Langston University (Go Lions!). Along the way, taking on additional opportunities to help others by adjunct teaching, volunteering, private practice work, and continuing to be the go-to guy for support for my friends; I have thoroughly enjoyed the chance to help others and look forward to many more years of service to helping others.