Hi, I'm Arcadia!
In my life, I've had two great loves... pageantry and drinking copious amounts of coffee. Welcome to the "Crowns & Coffee," the lovechild of my two passions. On most days, you can find me doing one of two things: catching up on the latest pageant news or working towards my Ph. D. (funded by Boston University and fueled by Dunkin).
As a first-generation college student, education has always been hugely important to me. I started attending the University of Maryland to go pre-med and quickly found out chemistry was not for me! Luckily it was around that time that I started taking psychology classes and found my true passion! Now, I have my undergrad degree from the University of Maryland, certificates in Interview & Resume Writing, Successful Interviewing, and Personal Branding. Currently, I'm working on my master's degree (and eventual Ph.D.) in developmental science. Needless to say, I LOVE learning, and I'm here to help you learn how to succeed academically. Trust me, it hasn't always come easy for me, but I put in the work and found success, so you can too.
Anyone in academia knows, though, that balance is key. So, I spend my free time in the world of pageants. I started competing in pageants when in high school and fell in love with the sisterhood and personal development opportunities. Now, years later, I've been a titleholder, volunteer, coach/mentor, friend, makeup artist, and more. In addition to these roles, I also am a passionate volunteer, ESL teacher, friend, sister, girlfriend, book-lover, and more. Check out my blog to keep up with how I juggle all these many hats!
Q: What made you pursue a Ph.D.?
A: I've known for most of my life that I wanted a career working with people and contributing to make the world a better place. As someone who chronically says yes to new opportunities though, I struggled to commit to one career path and ultimately changed my Major 6 times during my undergrad career!
I cannot express the importance of experience (and well-rounded experience) enough. My experiences working in labs helped me identify that research, and neuroscience research specifically, was what I wanted to be doing. Reading "The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog" by Dr. Bruce Perry is what sparked my interest in early adversity and trauma. And finally, my experience working in a domestic violence shelter cemented my interest in studying the impacts of early adversity on the development of cognitive abilities.
The classes you will take in high school and college are valuable, but they are not a complete substitute for actually getting into the world and seeing what sparks your passion.
Q: Did you go straight into your Ph.D. after college or take time off?
A: Halfway through my sophomore year, I knew that the Ph.D. was my endgame and I became relentless in my pursuit of it. We're talking about working three jobs, volunteering, internships, working in two labs, and taking 20 credits all within one semester. I was determined to make myself the strongest applicant possible.
For context here, when I first decided I wanted to get into a Clinical Ph.D. program I met with one of my professors to ask if I could serve as a TA for his course. When I met him in his office that day, he looked me up and down and very pointedly said "You look different from your picture online." Now, my Facebook profile picture at the time was a professional pageant headshot. I was preparing to compete for the title of Miss Maryland and my social media was littered with pageant pictures and updates. He later went on to tell me that Clinical Ph.D. programs are the hardest programs in the country to get accepted into (rarer even than medical schools), and, with little subtlety, told me that if I wanted to get in I was going to have to focus entirely on my schoolwork and let go of those other things in my life. *insert eye roll emoji*
So yes, after that entirely rude, judgemental, and frankly sexist interaction I was angry and ready to prove him wrong. I applied to only four Ph.D. programs in my senior year and was accepted into a Masters's and a Ph.D. program.
Ultimately, I made the decision to hold off though in favor of more research experience. I spent the next two years working as a full-time research coordinator building my knowledge and skills. Let me be very clear here: I do not regret this decision in any way shape or form. The journey to graduate school is different for everyone, but taking that time off was the best possible decision I could have ever made. I grew SO much during those two years and came into my program much more prepared for success.
P.S. at the end of those two years, that same professor came to me asking for my professional opinion and insight after he read one of my peer-reviewed articles. So, hah.
Q: What's your best advice for someone hoping to get their Ph.D.
A: Learn as much as you possibly can. Meet with as many people and ask as many questions as possible. As a first-generation student, I was so appreciative of simply having the opportunity to attend the University of Maryland and I took advantage of every opportunity for success they provided me with. Had I not, I don't think that I would have started setting myself up for success as early as I did. You need to start planning for your application years in advance. It takes time to build relationships with mentors, craft a resume, and gain experiences to discuss in a personal statement. I recommend learning as much as possible about the application process and how to succeed so that you can put things into motion early
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