I think there's a lot of confusion about what's going on in my life at the moment, so I thought I'd share some life updates here, on my blog. I'm not really one to post big status updates on Facebook, and I try to keep my Instagram pretty light, but I have no shame writing an essay about myself on my blog haha.
I graduated from Dickinson College with Bachelor's Degree in psychology, and left my undergrad years behind approximately 3 years ago, with plans to go to graduate school at Temple University in Philadelphia. The program I chose was the School Psychology Master's + Educational Specialist Degrees program. I followed through on my plans, and started my 3-year journey at Temple University in the fall of 2016. I began (and am still) studying to be a School Psychologist.
I'll do a little play-by-play analysis of my first two years in graduate school, but let's talk about my third / current year first, and then back track afterwards.
Currently, I am doing a full-time, paid internship at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit, with four other interns (all of us are from Temple / from the same cohort!). My current official title is Ayesha S., M.Ed, School Psychology Intern. I'm in my last year (last semester, I suppose) of graduate school. I'm not taking any classes, I'm "just" interning. That might sound weird to people who aren't too familiar with how school psychology works, but trust me, this is extremely normal. Almost all NASP (National Association of School Psychologists) approved graduate programs require a full-time, 1,200 hour internship in the student's third year of study. While in my internship, I've been essentially working as a full-time school psychologist. I've been completing psychoeducational evaluations, behavioral and academic interventions, doing counseling lessons, teaching a social-emotional curriculum, etc. I also took my PRAXIS licensing exam earlier in my internship and passed on my first try! So anyways, here I am. An intern with a Master's degree, about to finish grad school, and so close to my Educational Specialist Degree (Ed.S. Degree).
Okay, let's back track a little now. Let's talk about my first year first. My first year at graduate school was... interesting! It felt a lot like college "part two". Some of the classes I was taking (which were required by my program) were very basic, intro classes, such as this personality and psychotherapy class that I took. Others were almost completely new to me, like this introduction to cognitive assessments class that I took. Some classes were really easy, and others (intro to cognitive assessment, and advanced cognitive assessment) were a bit more challenging. Alongside the classes, I also was doing a "practicum". I went to a 3rd grade classroom at a local Philadelphia public school, once a week, and helped out however I could. Honestly, I felt a little like a teacher's aid, but it was really fun and also really helpful! It was fun because sometimes I feel like I'm still a 3rd grader in my heart, so whenever the little kiddos made, for example, a fart joke, I couldn't help but laugh too (so inappropriate, I know). The kids always made me laugh. It was really helpful because I have never studied at a public (or private, for that matter) school in the U.S. before. I spent my elementary school years in Saudi Arabia, my middle school years in England, Italy, and Saudi Arabia, and my high school years in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and England. And while a school is a school, no matter where in the world you are, I realized there was a lot for me to learn from observing and helping out in a regular-education, public school classroom in the U.S. For example, there are so many laws regarding education that I had no idea about. I had no idea what an IEP or 504 plan was. I had a lot to learn! Apart from being a "teacher's aid" (practicum student!), I was also required to do some school-psychology related things, like practice doing the B.O.S.S. observation, as well as a behavioral intervention. Overall, I had a really positive experience. Apart from practicum and classes, I also did something called "Dino School". Now, this was a lot of fun! Basically, our cohort was broken up into groups of three-four. All the groups went to a first grade classroom to teach social-emotional skills, on a weekly basis. We achieved this by using puppets, positive reinforcement, and prizes. The kiddos seemed to love it, and I did too!
Also, on a side note, moving to Philadelphia was a bit scary, but exciting at the same time. It was my first time living alone in a big city. My brother, Adnan, used to joke and call me the "Sheep in the Big City" (a reference to a TV show we used to watch as kids). After just a few days in Philadelphia, though, I fell in love. I realized that the city wasn't all that scary, but it was certainly really exciting. I really made the most of living in the city during my two years in Philadelphia.
My second year was much, much more intensive than my first year. This is mostly true because of a "class" (honestly, it felt like a full-time job) called Clinic. Essentially, all second years were enrolled in a class called Clinic, and we ran Temple's Psychoeducational Clinic. Over the year, we had four clients / four cases, and completed their full psychoeducational assessments and reports. Our reports typically ranged from 30-60 pages, each. 30 sounds really short. I would say, on average, my reports were close to 50 pages, if not longer. I believe my shortest was 37. The full evaluation consisted of the following: 1. parent interview / developmental history interview 2. record review 3. observations (at least two, on two separate occasions and settings) 4. cognitive assessments (at least one full battery, supplemented with another, and in compliance with CHC theory) 4. academic assessment 6. social, emotional and behavioral assessments 5. diagnostics 6. summary 7. recommendations. I'm trying to remember if I'm forgetting something haha, but I don't know. It doesn't sound like a lot, but the full evaluations took approximately 8-10 weeks to complete, start to finish, if I'm remembering correctly. They were, to this date, the most intense and comprehensive reports I have ever written. Those reports were much more comprehensive than the reports I have written so far in my internship. I don't mean this in a bad way, it's just that in clinic, we tested for everything, whereas in my internship (and normal school-psychology life in general), we test for what makes sense. I'm grateful for my extremely intense clinic experience, because I learned so much from it.
It was very, very emotionally hard for me (and my peers) though. This is mostly true because of our clinic supervisor, who was famous for her criticism in CAPS LOCK, BOLDED, RED FONT, ITALICS, ETC. FOR MAKING A SINGLE, TINY, SMALL, MISTAKE. I dreaded Sundays and Mondays because I knew I would be receiving my edited reports back from her soon. She had a really bad memory, as well. She often told us to do a certain thing, and then in our next edit she would ask us in CAPS LOCK, BOLDED, RED, ITALIC FONT WHY WE DID THIS, making us feel so stupid. The only way I can really describe it is to say I felt like I am in army boot camp, and my supervisor was a hard-ass general I had to suck up to. It was really, really hard. I felt really incompetent, often. I remember asking my two friends, Rizwan and Shin, who were in Ph.D. programs how on earth they possibly do it. They reminded me that I am capable, that I do deserve to be here, and that this too shall pass. And guess what? It did. It passed. I passed. And now, as someone who isn't in that situation anymore and able to look back with a clear head, I know that it was an unhealthy supervisor-supervisee relationship. She was insane. But hey, I learned so much from her, and I remember her telling me how proud she was of how far I had come when it was all over. Hearing that from her made me feel like everything was worth it. Now, I know if I could have survived and passed that, I can do anything else that is yet to come.
Apart from clinic, I was also taking other classes, and also a practicum student again. This year's practicum was much more intensive than my first year's. I was shadowing a school psychologist, instead of working as a teacher's aid (which I really enjoyed!), and doing full, psychoeducational evaluations, as well as counseling, FBA's, interventions, and so forth. I was doing a lot! I'm really grateful to have had my 2nd year practicum experience to balance out my clinic experience, because sometimes I think that if I didn't, I may have dropped out. Clinic was brutal, because our supervisor was insane! (Oh, by the way, she stopped being a supervisor after our cohort... I don't know if she was asked to leave, was fired, or just simply retired, but she's no longer supervising). If you're interested in reading more about my second year and how difficult it was, check out this post (click here). But anyways, I survived my second year!
While in my second year, I also had my identity stolen by my roommate, India Rottenburg, (change the "O" to an "I" and you'll have her real name. I'm not making this situation up, though I wish I was). That wasn't fun. On a more positive note, though, even though I was dealing with personal problems (having my identity stolen by my roommate), getting gas lighted by my clinic supervisor, staying on top of all my classes and practicum, I also was applying for internships. Oh, I also got my Master's degree around this time - while all my roommate and clinic drama was happening. And I killing it all. I killed my interviews and got accepted to two internship sites, I passed all my classes (including clinic), I wrote amazing evaluation reports that I'm so proud of, and... I survived! Second year was the hardest year for me in terms of graduate school, but it passed, and I see that light at the end of the tunnel.
In May of 2018, when I was finishing up with my second year, I moved to Media, Pennsylvania. I moved here because my internship is in this area. I got my own apartment (no more roommates stealing my identity!). I got a car (my first car, ever!). In the fall, I started internship, and I've been killing that too. I'm not one to humble brag, but I feel like I owe it to myself to do exactly that. I look back at my life, and see how far I've come. I've faced many challenges across the years, and I feel like I'm finally standing on my own two feet. It's a really good feeling, being so close to the end of this era.
So here we are. February 22, 2019. SO. CLOSE. to graduating. So close to finishing grad school. So close to having my Educational Specialist degree. Finally feeling like a real adult, standing on my own two feet. Driving myself around in my little Honda Civic, living in a beautiful, little one-bedroom apartment with a balcony I've fallen in love with. Getting ready to apply for real jobs for the first time in my life. I've come a long way since undergrad, since my first year in grad school, and even since my second year in grad school. I'm really proud of myself and my accomplishments, and excited to go start a new era in my life: Adulthood. REAL adulthood. No more being a student. This still makes me laugh, because I'm not entirely sure if I'll ever truly be an adult, hahahaha. But yeah! That's my life update.
In summary, I'm in my last year of graduate school. I'm doing a full-time, paid internship. I have my Bachelor and Masters degrees under my belt, and am so close to having my Educational Specialist degree too. I currently have a 3.83 GPA. I live alone, in my own apartment, and have a car. I'm going to start applying for jobs soon. Life is good, and I am so proud of my journey. :)
I hope this cleared up any misconceptions and helped answer any "I wonder what Ayesha is up to" questions! As always, feel free to call me, text me, DM me, hit me up on Facebook, or contact me using the "contact me" form. I love you all <3.