Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Dream- PhD in Cancer Counseling in University of Greenwich

If ‘I’ could study/specialize in any subject of my choice in UK, what would it be, where and why? Before answering those questions I would like to say a few things about myself and my life as a student. I am not a young student but a woman nearing my fifties.
My passion for education has such a tight grip on me, that I am struggling with a great balancing act of managing my home, special needs child, mentoring students, providing voluntary and free online counseling, keeping an eye on my own health, blogging, as well as managing to continue my studies.
My parents cannot be called narrow minded or conservative. They wanted all of their 4 children to study and get a degree of some kind; at the same time they wanted 3 of us girls to marry and settle down with our families as well. If that meant giving up the careers, they were fine with it. Unfortunately for me, my mother who had not stepped into school was not prepared for my own passion for becoming a professional woman. My dad was on the fence.
My interest in careers kept changing until I turned 10. First, I wanted to be an ambulance driver, then a teacher, a policewoman, soldier, doctor and many more. As a kid when I sang, ‘Twinkle twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are?’ I did not stop at that. I went to find books and read about the stars and space to find out what they really were. The more I learned about the mysterious space the more I wanted to learn about it. It was as though I was caught in a vicious cycle where my thirst increased with every drop of information I gained instead of being quenched. The fire was further flamed when I listened to the lectures of Carl Sagan and watched the television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he narrated and co-wrote. Now I had no doubt that I wanted to become an astronomer. With more research on the career options, I decided I wanted to become an astrophysicist.
When I conveyed my decision to my parents, my dad was confused and my mom went into shock. She was already worried that I was studying about stars, as she felt some cosmic things should not be meddled with. They should be accepted for what they are said to be by our ancestors without trying to find out facts. She assumed that her daughter is going to end up as a mad scientist, who will not have a life other than science and lab. Nothing I said could convince her that this was right for me. By adapting a hook or crook policy and a lot of emotional blackmail, she had me married off when I was in my II year of PUC.
I did not feel the impact of the change in my life initially. I was totally sucked into the married life after the birth of my son. I loved being a mom. Life started challenging me after that; first with a special needs daughter and then with breast cancer. For the next 10 years everything was in chaos and I was kind of flowing with the tide, not knowing exactly where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. Somewhere inside me there were seeds of bitterness sown for giving up my passion easily. I blamed myself for not being strong and taking a stand, I blamed my mother for not understanding my love for studies and I blamed my husband who could not even imagine what it meant for me. The bitterness which grew from the resentment led to conflicts in my life.
Once when talking to my 15 year old son, I sensed that I felt suffocated and smothered by the restrictions. I wanted to be free and pursue my education because knowledge is not just great for me, it was my passion. This is when I decided to continue my education. I had lost my opportunity to be an astrophysicist at this stage of life; therefore I opted for psychology, a field which had interested me a little less than astrophysics.  In no time, I was back to my school days, writing notes, completing assignments and studying for exams. I am amazed to notice that once I started doing what I loved the most, the conflicts in my life started to disappear one by one.  The bitterness gave way to enthusiasm to do things, happiness and confidence. At present I am pursuing my Masters Degree in ‘Counseling and Psychotherapy’.  I plan to pursue a career as a counselor for cancer survivors in my future. My own life experience of having dealt with the disease and survived it for more than 17 years will help me in being genuine to my profession; besides my experience as a caretaker of my sister and mom who lost their lives to cancer will be a great motivation.
If I had a chance to study in UK, PhD in Cancer Psychology is what I would aim for. A degree from any university in UK would assure my clients about my work more than my own potential ever could. Known for their quality of education, UK boasts of being home to four of the top tenuniversities in the world. I could choose from any of the nearly 111 universities in the country to pursue higher studies.
My choice is University of Greenwich to pursue higher studies. The Department of Psychology & Counselling at Greenwich has a strong record of delivering high quality programmes, research and consultancy. All the programmes offered by the university have a wide choice of courses and they employ creative teaching methods and assessment techniques. With a Ph.D. in Psychology from University of Greenwich, I will be better prepared as a practitioner to help people coping with the diagnosis of cancer to maintain their balance in life. What attracts me to this university is the high quality scientific research they carry out in the field of psychology, especially in applied issues in settings such as mental health. This is very helpful for my career as a cancer counselor.
Being diagnosed with cancer can be a life-altering experience for a person; it was for me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29 when I was breast feeding my daughter. But the assumption that it is always very traumatic is not true in all the cases. My topic of research would be a look into why people tend to associate cancer with trauma and PTSD, as well as why cancer causes so much of mental stress. How far are media and its portrayal of cancer as a killer disease responsible for the attitude of people towards this disease?
Preparing for my Final Year M.S. in counseling and psychotherapy, I carry a dream in my heart to study further and do my PhD in psychology. If life would give me an opportunity to realize my dream in one of the renowned universities in the world, what more could I ask for? I hold fast on to my dream… because like Langston Hughes said,
“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.” 


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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