By: Bonnie Sharpe On: June 29, 2016 In: News Item Comments: 0

EF_amanda1      EF_amanda2

My name is Amanda Aldeghi. I’m 25 years old. My interests include: working with kids, cooking, poetry, practicing yoga, singing, and reading. I grew up in Yuba City then moved to Sacramento after high school. In 2012 I transferred to UC Riverside where I received a B.A. in Psychology. Soon after graduation I moved to Los Angeles to start a 2-year Master’s program at Antioch University. I just graduated on Sunday with a Master’s of Art in Psychology. I initially was on track to become a Marriage and Family Therapist. After completing a year of clinical coursework I made a switch to the non-clinical program. I realized that therapy was not the right fit for me. The persona of a therapist felt forced, like I would need to put on a mask each day and hide away bits of my personality. My Community Psychology specialization, which focuses on community-building and social justice, helped me realize that my interests lie elsewhere. I enjoy bringing people together and celebrating their strengths, rather than focusing on weaknesses to fix problems. Working at ExtraordinaryFamilies with Beth Ryan has truly opened my eyes to the non-profit world as a whole and the unique experiences of foster youth, both those currently in the system and those who have aged out. For my master’s project I completed a 40-page document that reviewed the literature on this population and provided recommendations for EF moving forward with AB403. (View the brochure here: EF_AB403 Brochure)

I recently completed 16 hours of Council training with EF in March. I was instantly hooked, so I enrolled in a second 16-hour training session. Council had everything that I felt group therapy lacked: prompts aimed to connect others and build trust, games, art, and music to make the experience fun and allow others to express themselves creatively. I have spent years searching for a way to combine my love for the arts with my love for storytelling and connection, and I believe I finally found the practice that will allow me to do so. I intend to bring Council to Sacramento schools, because I think our young people are in great need of connections outside of their smartphone screens.

I also hope to visit Nepal this December as a camp counselor for IvyMax, an agency I used to teach ESL classes at. They offer summer and winter global philanthropy leadership trips for high school students to gain hands-on, international experience in various fields. Last summer I was a camp counselor on the Public Health trip in China, where my group of 19 students visited a rural village, shadowed doctors, checked villagers’ blood pressure and educated them on the issue of hypertension, which is incredibly prevalent in Ningxia. This year I will likely go along for the trip to Kathmandu where we will work to restore an orphanage and learn about social activism in the region. I would like to facilitate a Council session with staff and students to foster deeper connections and understanding. I am still awaiting approval from IvyMax’s Principal but the odds are in my favor.

My advice for other twenty-somethings is to view uncertainty as an adventure, as a challenge. If you’re unsure which path to take get involved in the community, take classes that interest you, follow podcasts, read books, try new things; most importantly, befriend people who are different from you, and your mind will open to new possibilities. My 17 year old self first took a Psychology class in high school. I had no direction for a few years, switching my allegiance toward different branches of the field (health psychology, social psychology, counseling) and taking random classes that aligned with my interests, until I found Community Psychology. It was an area where all of my interests converged. Everyone can find the passion they seek if they take enough risks and get outside of their comfort zone.

All of us at Extraordinary Families would like to extend our gratitude to this amazing young lady and congratulate her on her recent graduation!  As our Youth in Transition program director Beth Ryan recently shared, Amanda “has added so much value to the young adults, the program and to me personally.” She will be dearly missed. Thank you, Amanda! We wish you all the best and know you are destined for great things to come.

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