Work Toward Your Dreams: Video Transcript

Wilson Cardwell (BA Psychology, Miami, 2008) [graduate student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education]: I became interested in my major because of a book I read my senior year of high school. Going into the summer, I was assigned three books, and one of the books was Native Son by Richard Wright. The lawyer uses the defense of Bigger Thomas being a product of his society and that society had failed him. I found this an interesting psychology and an interesting perspective to take for a man of color from a marginalized community who had committed a heinous crime, and yet we were blaming society and not Bigger Thomas for his actions. And, for some reason, that really resonated with me and made me think that psychology would provide me with the answers for why people do the things they do and how we rationalize our actions, and so I studied psychology purely based on my own inquiry.

I'd like to work in a school of education helping teach teachers about cultural competency and how they can build culturally competent and safe spaces in their classrooms. Just from my experience working in Boston public schools, I feel like that's a growing need, and I feel that a lot of education programs could benefit from having someone like me and my experience prepare young teachers for their futures.

Because I didn't go into the field of psychology after I graduated, I learned to take the skill sets around inquiry, quantitative methods, as well as finding answers and solutions, really helpful in my field, especially in education, where you have to have people skills, you have to show empathy, and you have to really care about particular communities, especially communities that have experienced a lot of trauma, in order to be successful in the work.

When you go into psychology, I think you typically come in expecting that you are going to have to leave with a clinical lens or a clinical-driven perspective in terms of your career outlets. I had been in education for a while, and even though I'm returning to more of the clinical side of things, I have met psychology majors who work in STEM, I've met a lot of psychology degree holders who have been managers in corporate as well as nonprofit agencies. And what I try to explain to students is that when you have a degree from Miami of any sort, especially a psychology degree, like you're already a strong candidate for whatever job it is that you want to have. And I find psychology puts us in a very unique position to transfer our skills to the STEM fields as well as to human services fields. So I'm not just a psychology major. I'm a pretty well rounded academic individual, and I appreciate having the ability to speak on a number of different topics.

I would ask Miami graduates, especially those in the psychology department, what is it that they think they need, what is it that they think they didn't get here at Miami that they're still looking for, and if they're still here and they haven't finished yet, that they find those people in those skill sets before they leave. Everyone's path is different. And, anytime you're looking for something, it means that you've recognized that there's something that you need and which you lack. And I ask students that if they can do anything for themselves, it's that they learn how to take a critical lens when it comes to reflecting on their experiences here, and they think about not only what do they can get out of the experience, but what are they still missing.

It's a quote from a Kendrick Lamar song that I tell my students often, is, "a dream is only a dream if work don't follow it." And I say that to them not to be cool or anything like that, but I say it to them because it really resonates with me, in that a dream only means as much as the work which you put into it. I want people to remember, know, and understand that you're constantly going to be working towards those dreams, but as long as you're working towards them, they're going to happen. But the moment that you decide that it should just happen without you having to put in the blood, sweat, and tears in order to earn it, is the moment in which it ceases to be a dream. And so my advice and my final thoughts are that you continue to work and understand that you've accomplished a lot of great things by graduating from Miami, and the real work continues and starts after you leave our campus.

[October 2016]