Article written by Priory in the City senior Natalie McKnight-Sur.
Alexia Saad is a senior at St. Andrew's Schools - The Priory. She has a deep love for all things psychology, as well as bowling and photography. As part of Priory in the City, Alexia currently works as an intern for Dr. Kathrine Fast, Psychologist and Coordinator for Clinical Services at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Counseling and Student Development Center. She hopes to major in psychology and go on to apply psychological strategies to businesses and schools in the future.
- Why did you want to learn more about psychology? Is there one specific moment that inspired your interest?
"The reason why people think and act the way they do fascinates me. Psychology became a passion of mine toward the end of my sophomore year, which prompted me to take 'Introduction to Psychology' at Hawaiʻi Pacific University and 'Behavioral Science' during my junior year. The beauty of psychology is its broadness, as there is an endless number of branches I can choose to study. The field of psychology is flexible – it's helpful in pretty much every field and I think it could also serve as a way for people to understand their own thinking. The study of psychology consists of a variety of things, ranging from the functioning of your memory skills to different personalities. It feels like there are no limits and that I can easily go on for hours just discussing psychology."
- Why did you choose to intern at the UH Mānoa Counseling and Student Development Center?
"One of the reasons I chose to intern at UH Mānoa's Counseling and Student Development Center was because of the connection of my mentor with The Priory and her relationship with Mrs. Herring. While communicating with her over email, I was able to see that she was passionate about helping me with my internship and wanted to make it work, despite confidentiality issues related to her job. I knew that I would not be able to sit in on her sessions, but she still provided an amazing experience and invaluable information about the field of psychology."
- What is your favorite part of your internship, or something you look forward to doing? What do you feel is most valuable?
"My favorite part of my internship is the flexibility. It's not the typical three hour internship period twice a week. I'm able to do independent work crafting my project according to my schedule. I really appreciate my mentor using her day off on Tuesday to meet with me and share some of her personal counseling experiences, helpful resources, articles and lectures. What I feel is most valuable is my mentor's dedication to making sure this internship provides me with everything I want to learn.
"One example of this was that she set up a meeting with a peer fellow for me. Peer fellows are college students that go through training to help and assist with counseling. They are typically students majoring or minoring in psychology. Through this experience, I was able to gain a student's perspective on the field. I was also able to attend the Resource Fair at UH Mānoa, an event for high school students to educate them on the resources, academics and clubs available at the university. I assisted my mentor at the Student Development and Counseling Center booth as she explained to prospective students what UH has to offer in terms of counseling."
- What is one surprising thing you've learned since starting? Is your experience any different from what you expected?
"One surprising thing I've learned is a vast amount of resources are available for students and faculty within a college. These can range from mental health to stress management support. I was also able to learn that more and more students are starting to take advantage of these resources, which is a good thing. Most students are afraid to open up to avoid being labeled as 'depressed,' but counseling services can be very beneficial in times of stress and conflict, regardless of whether it's for personal issues or even career counseling. My experience is pretty much what I expected because I knew that I would not be able to sit in on counseling sessions. Since there are times where we only meet once a week or not at all, I'm able to do research and generate questions for the next time."
- What are some goals or aspirations you have for your future?
"In the future, I hope to either gain a degree in psychology or human resource development/management, or to receive a double degree in these two fields. Another thing I'm interested in is applied psychology. I am certain that psychology will be a part of my college curriculum one way or another.
"My main goal for the future is to help people become the best version of themselves whether they are adults or children, whether at a business or a school. I feel that this can be done through the study of psychology. I want to connect it with the business aspect of human resource development/management because I believe the success of a company relies on the personal success of its employees. Therefore, understanding the best way for people to learn alongside how they think would greatly benefit the growth and success of a company. That is also where applied psychology comes into play, as it is the study of enhancing human behavior and experience."
- How do you hope to affect people's lives with your work?
"Similar to my goal, my work will be to help people succeed in their lives. I specifically want to go through different companies and learn about individuals and develop personal strategies for them to be their best in their role. Another thing I'm interested in doing is developing strategies for children and adolescents throughout schools in regards to learning styles since not every student is able to learn in the same way. I hope that this will not only positively affect people's lives in their job or in school, but also in their personal lives.
- What is the best advice you ever received, and who gave it?
"The best advice I ever received is from my dad who continues to remind me not to put off for tomorrow what I can do today. He's basically telling me not to procrastinate, which has helped me over the years, especially right now with college applications. It can also refer to prioritizing. He relates this piece of advice to pretty much anything, including folding my laundry, scheduling an appointment, paying bills and so much more. I always understood it as, 'why wait to do it later, when you can do it right now?'"
- What is one surprising thing about you that not many people know?
"There might be a good amount of people that know this and just forgot, but when I was in sixth grade, I memorized 164 digits of Pi. The fun fact is that I memorized the digits in increments of repetition, which is obvious in the way that I recite it. I later learned through my Introduction to Psychology course that there are actually terms that describe my memorization style. One such term is 'maintenance rehearsal', which is the act of repeating information in short-term memory over and over again in order to maintain it."
- What are your favorite activities outside of school?
"Outside of school I like to bowl, try new food places, binge-watch Netflix shows and practice photography."