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Overcoming obstacles

Gazette student columnist perseveres to achieve dream: psychology major

Student Life | Student View

By Hayley Whelan

The academic journey that I find myself on today is not one I ever could have imagined.

Studying psychology at Memorial University has turned out to be the most rewarding and challenging experience of my life so far.

It certainly isn’t something that came easy to me, and my studies continually challenge my ambition and desire to keep going.

Faced self-doubt

My first few years at Memorial were spent in a desperate effort to prove myself wrong.

My primary goal was to demonstrate my abilities to myself; to be accepted as a psychology major – no easy feat.

I struggled through those first years. Student loans were lighting a fire beneath me that told me that I had to succeed. I was working at one job or another every minute that I wasn’t in classes, and I was facing self-doubt at every turn.

The prerequisites to become a psychology major seemed easy enough; a couple of psychology courses, an English course or two, and some choice in math courses. Unfortunately for me, I had never been adept at math, and a calculus course was almost too big of a barrier for me to overcome.

Semester after semester passed while I struggled to get a passing grade in calculus. A rejection letter from the psychology department came on my birthday in 2018. I considered other, theoretically easier options for majors.

I considered admitting defeat.

Waited for a rejection letter

It took me two years to achieve a passing grade in one of my weakest academic areas.

I took the same math course three times in a row before I finally completed it. This was in the fall semester of 2019.

I still spent the winter semester, and most of the summer, worrying, doubting and making plans for when I received another rejection letter. I tried not to get my hopes up.

“Take this one life that you have and do exactly what you want with it.”

One day, while scrolling through my emails, I spotted one from the head of the psychology department. The description gave away nothing, but I prepared myself for the worst.

So when I opened the email and saw the word “accepted,” I felt a huge wave of relief. Finally, I could be reasonably certain about where my future was headed – to my dream career.

Not giving up

This fall semester has been my first semester as a bona fide psychology major.

Although it is a huge relief to have that accomplishment behind me, the challenges haven’t stopped. Every day I still battle the worries, the self-doubt, the sense of being in over my head, but the one thing that I will not do is give up.

My advice for students that feel displaced in university, those who feel that their dreams are too big for them, is to keep going. If you truly believe that the path that you’re on is the one you want to be on, don’t give up.

No matter how many doubts you have, how many times people suggest you try an easier path or how often you find yourself overwhelmed by the obstacles in front of you.

The worst thing you can do is to not believe in yourself because if you don’t, no amount of support from anyone else is going to be able to convince you of your worth.

So take this one life that you have and do exactly what you want with it.

If I can do it, so can you.


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