Transferring to UC Santa Barbara from Visalia, California, in the fall of 2015, psychology major and applied psychology minor Abbi Gregory immediately became involved in the campus community.
“Being a transfer student and competing for research opportunities with people who have been here their whole time was difficult,” she said. However, she successfully traversed the roadblocks and made her own opportunities. One of the mentors she credits for helping her through those roadblocks was Angie Tai, her work supervisor at UCSB’s Residential & Community Living. “She genuinely cared about my success from the beginning,” Abbi said, adding: “Angie reminded me that self-worth is not tied to academic success or a title. I am not just my grades and it is OK to not have every box checked.”
One of the opportunities that Abbi pursued was to become a resident assistant during her second quarter at UCSB. The prior resident assistant for Sierra Madre residence hall had stepped down so she decided to take over mid-year. Also, in winter 2016, she became a co-leader for ED 118: Transfer Student Success, a class that helps transfer students transition into life at UCSB. However, her primary work opportunity came when she became a CAPS (Counseling & Psychological Services) mental health peer in fall 2016.
“Psychology was more of a research setting and I was looking for a supplement to the theory with actual practice,” Abbi said. “I wanted to involve myself in clinical work and help people, so I went to CAPS and asked how I could help.” Through CAPS, she was able to find the perfect intersection between psychology and what she was passionate about.
“Being a mental health peer for CAPS is the best campus job we have to offer,” she said. “The supervisors are so supportive and it’s nice to be surrounded by so much love every day.” She continued: “You go to work and it’s so much fun because people care and want to hear about what you’re doing. I love seeing the impact I can have on other students.”
Abbi’s long-term goal is to attend graduate school in clinical psychology. “I might not change the world,” she said, “but I hope to help the person who does.”
Besides work opportunities, Abbi also enjoyed her time as a student. “My favorite class was definitely PSY 158: Positive Psychology,” she said. “I really appreciated and got behind the mission of positive psychology. In counseling work, the goal is to move people from a deficit to a baseline state. However, in positive psychology, the mission is to move from a baseline to a thriving state.
“Overall, I’ve learned how to listen and how to be compassionate toward others,” she said. “I’ve seen what a positive impact therapy has on students and people in general. Being kind and compassionate has gotten me far in terms of relationship building and I’ve tried to reform my life to be a supportive person to everyone I interact with.”
Abbi will graduate this quarter with honors in the College of Letters and Science. After graduation, she will be staying at UCSB to work in Residential Housing as an assistant complex coordinator. She’ll help manage the West Campus Family Student Housing and supervise resident assistants.
“Although I’ll still be on campus, I’ll miss being a student,” she said. “Living with best friends down the hall is so convenient and fun. I’ll miss the close friendships I’ve formed in these short two years.” She concluded: “I’ve felt so supported and welcomed in our community. UCSB is truly indescribable.”
Written by Bret Rodriguez