Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Ghenaya Winanda! I am class of 2022 - I did graduate December of 2021 but, still classify as class of 2022, it’s on my Aggie ring. I was in the CHANGE Lab for 1 year, so it was all of 2021. Right after graduation I moved back home because it was kind of tough timing; I had just applied to grad schools, post baccs, and other opportunities, and I was waiting around to hear back. I moved back home which is Katy, Texas and I immediately started substitute teaching. It was a great way to still work with kids and help kids but also kind of be flexible with time when I had interviews and things, so I did that right after graduation. I started hearing back from grad schools and post baccs in April and I ended up going further into my interview process with the McLean Hospital Post Bacc Child and Adolescent Clinical Fellowship in Boston. I got accepted and in June I moved to Boston and I started right away. I’ve been here for almost a year and I also just got accepted into the Harvard post bacc pre med program because through my experience, I found out that I really love medicine.
Q: What is your favorite part of the work that you are currently doing?
I think that’s a really hard question because I love what I’m doing so much, both what happens in the fellowship as a mentee and as a fellow and my work. So with the fellowship we work full time at a placement, so I work 40 hours at McLean Franciscan Community Based Acute Treatment Program which serves a really diverse population which I love. I think one of the things I learned from the CHANGE Lab is that I was really curious about how we can touch as many communities as possible and what are the gaps, what’s stopping people from getting the health that they deserve. So working in a community based unit really means a lot to me. I think that’s my favorite aspect of it. And also, just being in an environment like Boston, I always say it’s like the Mecca of psychology, you can look everywhere and there’s an opportunity for you. So just being here and coming from Texas A&M where I feel the focus is on engineering and business, while here it’s like healthcare! There’s a lot of focus on it over here. I think just going into that community was amazing and I feel so supported.
Q: Could you tell us more about what you do as part of the Fellowship?
So our fellowship is directed by Dr. Fabrett from McLean Hospital and Harvard Med. She’s amazing, and through the fellowship, there’s 9 different placements. So we go through an interview process and see which one fits best and for me that was the McLean CBAT Unit. I work 40 hours there and my day to day involves helping children with activities of daily living so that can be like going to school, because school refusal can be hard, or dysregulation and things like that. So we lead group, like therapy group which is like DBT, CBT, and mindfulness based. Yeah we kind of just hang out with the kids, teach them skills as we go just to set them up for success when they leave back into the community. Usually they step up to CBAT or they step down from like an in-patient unit. We also have seminars within the fellowship. Oh, my favorite, community outreach. We helped Boston CASA and we taught their volunteers about kids experiencing trauma and like a mental health intro and now with McLean Hospital we’re helping out with their stigma project so we’re interviewing people and kind of telling their stories, which is great.
Q: How did your experiences in the CHANGE Lab lead you to where you are today?
Obviously it solidified the fact that I love pediatric psychology and I want to work with children and I want to work within a community based setting. I think that really stuck out when I was on the SOAR project just because we were doing interviews with caregivers and their children. I think it helped me have a lot of empathy for different populations and have curiosity about the gap of resources.
Q: How did your experiences in the CHANGE Lab prepare you for where you are today?
I will be 100% honest, this fellowship is clinically focused, so when it comes to research and that aspect of it, I haven’t used that much within the fellowship. But I will say, the team environment that Dr. Thurston has created and how much she trusts us and believes in us and gives us chances has really prepared me to be the student, mentee, and person that I am. Just like being on top of my work, how to communicate with my supervisor, and just being a good student, I think that’s how it prepared me.
Q: What advice would you give your younger CHANGE Lab self?
I think I felt, like I kind of mentioned before, being at A&M I sometimes felt alone in my journey in psychology so when I finally came into an environment where it’s strictly like that, I felt a lot of imposter syndrome so there were a lot of moments where I felt scared to ask for help or had questions because I was like “I should know this” or “everyone around me knows these things but why don’t I? But I think I would tell my younger CHANGE Lab self “it’s okay if you don’t know something, ask for help” because it’s like so cliche when you hear it all the time but like things snowball so when you catch it from the beginning, it will set you up for more success and you’ll learn more that way, so I think that’s something I definitely would have told my younger CHANGE Lab self - it’s like, you won’t know everything and that’s perfectly okay, you just have to ask for help.
Q: Is there anything else that you think would be important to share?
I think ideally, all of us really would love to go to grad school right after undergrad and we think that’s the best scenario but I don’t know, for me at first I was like ‘Ugh, I can’t believe I’m not going to grad school, I’m going to have a gap,” but I don’t even like calling it a gap because I’ve learned so much, I’ve gained so many more skills, and met so many people and resources and also, if I had never gone through this fellowship, I would have never opened my eyes to other things within this field. Now I realize I love medicine and I love therapeutic treatment and I’m going, hopefully, to med school. Everything happens for a reason and I love the path that I went on so I would just say don’t put so much pressure on what you think is right because everyone has their own timeline and path and you’ll meet certain people along the way that guide you to different things. I can’t imagine anything happening any differently.