Alumni Making positive, lasting changes for those in need

Making positive, lasting changes for those in need

Making positive, lasting changes for those in need

Meet Vivek Anand s/o Lakshmanan, our Bachelor of Arts (Majoring in Psychology Studies) alumnus, and who is also currently pursuing a Master of Guidance and Counselling as he shares his story on how he helped the residents of a halfway house become motivated and stay positive.

Nabila Cholida Papa Ayam

What are you up to right now?

I am currently working as a Programme Executive at a Prison Halfway House. My job is to facilitate the rehabilitation and gradual reintegration of my residents into the community. Prior to this, I was employed as a Social Worker under the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). While working, I am also pursuing my part-time Master of Guidance and Counselling at James Cook University, Singapore.  Lastly, I am the President of the JCU Singapore Alumni Association. It is my honour to serve the Alumni community of our University.

Can you tell us more about your current role and what made you decide to take on this role?

As a Programme Executive, while my residents stay in the halfway house, I work with them to address their pertinent reintegration issues (especially in the areas of employment and accommodation) and motivate them to make positive, lasting changes in their lives. I have always been passionate about working in the Prison Aftercare System as it was a population I worked with in my volunteering experience at the Singapore After-Care Association (SACA).

If you could highlight one memorable experience in your working experience so far, what would that be?

There are so many interesting experiences I have gained at my work that I would love to share, but unfortunately can’t due to confidentiality concerns. However, what I can say is that it is definitely exhilarating to work at a place that requires you to overcome various challenges on a daily basis. No day is dull.

What are some of the lessons learned or challenges faced?

The biggest lesson I learnt is one that I think applies to anyone working in the psychology field: practicing self-care. We have to go into work every day, ready to treat our clients with an unconditional positive regard. While it is definitely a fulfilling job, emotional and physical burnout is something all of us have to be aware of. Most employers help you overcome this with resources such as clinical supervision and relevant courses but none of them would be effective unless we put a conscious effort towards our self-care.

How do you feel studying at the Singapore campus of James Cook University has helped you? What do you miss the most about your time at JCU?

My time in JCU will forever be close to my heart. While education is something you gain at any university, an enriching student life and culture is something that is unique to JCU. There are opportunities to interact with students from all over the world, lecturers who are active in the field, giving relevant advice, and friendly staff. These are things I don't often hear from friends studying at other universities. I miss the various events we organised at Psych Society, the numerous semesters of running Orientation Games Day, and the fun Anthropology Overseas Trips. Not to mention volunteering opportunities. organising a Career Symposium in collaboration with four other universities and, of course, losing my sanity occasionally doing all of the above while trying to maintain decent grades. Basically every second I got to spend with my friends, now my family.

What would be your advice for current students?

While theoretical knowledge can be gained in the classroom, I believe practical knowledge is something that is important to gain as well. In my opinion, joining a club would be the easiest way to access such opportunities. As mentioned above, the memories I gained from clubs that I was involved in are the fondest memories I carry of the university today. Of course, remembering to join the JCU Alumni Association would be a huge benefit to gain such opportunities even after graduation.

So what's next for you?

I am looking forward to the next phase of my Masters Program which is the Practicum Modules. I am looking forward to putting what I have learnt into practice.

Lastly, JCU’s Strategic intent is ‘Creating a brighter future for life in the tropics world-wide through graduates and discoveries that make a difference’. How do you think you have made (or are making) a difference?

I think many of us focus on making huge changes to make a difference but I believe the small acts of kindness we practice on a daily basis are what come together to make the biggest difference in this world.