“My long-term objective is to begin my very own apply,” stated Akira Goden, who graduates from the School of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth College in Could. “And I wish to have a apply that’s in and for the Black neighborhood as a result of we do not have a variety of psychological well being sources of our personal.”
Goden first turned considering psychology early in her time at VCU when she took Psych 101 and located the content material spoke to her. And he or she determined to additionally pursue a level in African American research following the nationwide protests in 2020 towards police brutality and racism.
“When all the things occurred in 2020, I acquired extra into particular points throughout the Black neighborhood,” she stated. “And I spotted that psychological well being was a very large problem within the Black neighborhood, and I needed to [find a career path] that may assist in my very own neighborhood.”
Goden is president of the scholar group Black Minds Matter, which is devoted to bettering psychological well being within the Black neighborhood. In that function, Goden has helped set up campus occasions and discussions on matters comparable to stigmas within the Black neighborhood round psychological well being remedy.
“[The organization facilitates] a mix of occasions that educate our members but in addition enable room for dialogue and for individuals to share their experiences and simply be weak. It has been very superb. It is linked lots of people on campus to one another. We attempt to be an area on campus for Black college students to only actually be themselves, to de-stress, to only let go.”
Along with her research and scholar management, Goden works as a psychological well being assistant at VCU Well being, sitting with suicidal and behavioral sufferers.
“Oftentimes, I am simply sitting within the room with them and it is simply us. Typically they will confide in me about what is going on on [with them] and I am going to pay attention, speak to them and simply attempt to make their keep on the hospital higher,” she stated.
Her job has solely additional strengthened her perception that she is on the precise path.
“My finish objective is to develop into a therapist and typically I sort of doubt myself or query if I’m ok for that, and even able to serving to individuals enhance their lives,” she stated. “However I’ve had conditions on the hospital which have reassured me that, sure, that is what I’m meant to do. There was one occasion the place I used to be sitting with this older man and he simply broke right down to me and cried as he instructed me about his scenario. Afterwards he thanked me for listening to him and stated he hadn’t cried in years.”
Goden additionally works as a analysis assistant on the Heart for the Research of Tobacco Merchandise within the Division of Psychology, working underneath Caroline Cobb, Ph.D., an affiliate professor of psychology and mission director on the middle. The analysis focuses on the perceptions of menthol smoking among the many African American neighborhood.
“Being part of that mission has allowed me to essentially advocate for my individuals as a way to be sure that the Black perspective stays current on choices that can have an effect on us particularly,” Goden stated.
As a scholar researcher, Goden offered at VCU’s annual undergraduate analysis symposium. She obtained one of many VCU Launch Awards, which acknowledge excellent analysis posters created by freshmen and sophomores who exhibit outstanding rigor and imaginative and prescient of their analysis. She was additionally chosen to current her work on a panel at a nationwide analysis convention, and was the one undergraduate talking alongside doctoral-level researchers.
Grace Gipson, Ph.D., an assistant professor within the Division of African American Research, stated Goden has not solely excelled within the classroom however with the campus neighborhood, noting that she has served as an undergraduate educating assistant, working as a sports activities membership supervisor with VCU Recreation and Properly-Being, and as an advocate for psychological well being.
“As a future psychological well being practitioner, Akira is an instance of placing one’s understanding into apply,” Gipson stated. “That is evident in how she is ready to mix and steadiness her pursuits in each the fields of African American research and psychology.”
Following commencement, Goden is planning to attend graduate faculty, with the objective of changing into a licensed skilled counselor, after which ultimately incomes a doctorate in psychology.
“I wish to present for others the sort of assist that I’ve at all times needed for myself,” she stated.
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