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Monica’s Dreams and Achievements at Stratford University

Profile picture of Monica's Dreams and Achievements at Stratford University

Monica’s Roots: A New Yorker in Virginia

Born and raised in New York, I’ve called Virginia home for over 16 years, sharing my life with my husband Joseph and sons, Joseph and Jack. As the only child among five brothers to attend university later in life, I dedicated much of my time to putting others before myself.

Monica’s Inspiring Words: Speaker at Graduation

As one of the graduation speakers, I encouraged my fellow graduates to make the most of their university experience, build new relationships, ask questions, and take advantage of student services. “Attending university has been a long-awaited aspiration of mine, and graduating is a major milestone. Reminding myself of how long I had waited to attend university, the sacrifices that had to be made, and the expectations I set for myself motivated me to continue,” I say. “Today we celebrate our achievements and reflect on our time spent here at Stratford University.”

Monica’s Academic Journey: Passion for Psychology and Sociology

During my undergraduate studies, I explored my passion for supporting vulnerable communities and creating better outcomes, particularly for underserved populations. With a major in Psychology and a minor in Sociology, my particular interest was in psychology papers, with Community, Culture, and Diversity, and Indigenous Psychology led by cultural sensitivity psychology lecturer Samson O’Brian standing out. “It resonated with me, captivated me, and inspired me.”

Monica’s Career Path: From University to Direct Relief

Despite struggling with self-doubt and a lack of motivation during the pandemic, Covid-19 forced me to focus on what was important to me and my family: aligning my academic and career aspirations with a holistic approach. Now, I work as a community-based cultural sensitivity alcohol and drug counselor at Direct Relief, just outside Virginia, where staff offer early/brief interventions that are client-centered, family-inclusive, with a particular focus on holistic wellbeing. “I am very fortunate to work in an environment where the staff share the same passion and drive for advocating and supporting our community.”

Monica’s Future: The Next Chapter

Graduating with my bachelor’s degree does not mark the end of my university journey but rather the beginning of my next chapter. I hope to return to Stratford University in the future to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in the Practice of Psychology, become a registered psychologist, and eventually pursue a PhD. “Regardless of the path we take, our journey is our own,” I say. “I would definitely recommend Stratford University to others. It’s in a great location and has excellent degree options and reputation. While I learned a lot academically, the most valuable key learnings I take away are positionality, cultural competency, and reflection.”