Where are They Now? Part Two. Amelia Teta, Student
Tell me about yourself.
I am a very busy student at Lesley University. I live in an apartment with my girlfriend and our cat, Stormy. I will be graduating in May with a degree in children, youth, and family studies. I am in the honors program; I am on the softball team where I act as team manager. I keep stats, run practices, and make sure everybody is where they need to be. I get to be an awesome part of the team. I am also the assistant coach of my high school varsity swim team.
I am in my second internship at Perkins School for the Blind working in the Deaf/Blind program for kids having both hearing and vision impairment and other disabilities along with that. I want to be a pediatric occupational therapist. In my internship, I get to be in the classroom with the kids and observe real OT sessions. I fell in love with the idea of working with this margin of people.
I have very intense OCD and major depressive disorder. Basically, I have been a little ball of anxiety since the day I was born. I had a breakdown at 16 and went into intensive mental health treatment where I regained my willingness to be alive. Then I did online school… The ages of 16-19 are integral parts of a student’s life; during this time, I was not in any type of intensive in-person school.
Focus Collegiate gave me the support I needed to get back into my rhythm. I would officially classify myself as being on the other side of all this…
Why did you decide to enroll in Focus Collegiate?
After all the mental health stuff, I was diagnosed with ADHD. Because that was new to me, part of me was panicked about sitting for hours in an actual classroom. Moving helps me focus but I was anxious about disturbing my classmates. I knew I was going to need someone to be my cheerleader. Even though I knew I was going to be okay, I knew that having support in the academic field was going to help my anxiety.
And it was suggested by my academic advisor. Because it wasn’t my mom, I was much more likely to do it.
What are the things you thought you were not ready to do independently in the college transition process?
You don’t make friends in online school. There was nobody who related to what I could do. It felt like nobody my age was doing it like me.
Even though I lived in a gorgeous home with a supportive family, I needed to get out of the house. I moved up the street and lived on my own. It was a great decision because it made me feel more independent. I was able to do what I needed to without feeling I had to prove myself to my parents.
How am I supposed to do all of this by myself? Because I was in an apartment, it added more pressure. At the time I was isolated socially because I had lost contact with friends during the time I was in the OCD clinic. How am I supposed to do this? Family did not feel like enough.
I know I’m smart enough, can work hard enough, can take of myself. But the fear was I didn’t have enough support and I was going to fail and have to move back home.
What did Focus Collegiate do for you that you didn’t think you were able to do?
It gave me that support in order to be confident in myself. I knew they were ready to assist me. I knew they were going to do their best to help me.
Focus Collegiate taught me that I can get accommodations, they helped me prep for interviews and all the stuff that comes around college. The life coaching aspect of it was huge. I had someone to talk to. It was nice to get other ideas.
Now my GPA is a 3.78 which I would like to raise before I graduate. If you had told me when I was 16 that this was what my life was going to look like, I would have laughed in your face… I ended up starting my own business. I teach private at-home swimming lessons to kids with autism spectrum disorder. I figured out how to run this business without burning out.
What was your experience?
Focus Collegiate makes you feel like you’re not the only person. They know how to help you without it feeling like a professional relationship—it felt more personal which allowed me to be more vulnerable and ask for what I really needed.
It was definitely a good experience. I was a little gruff, my walls were up, but I was genuinely grateful for the support, even though I was a little bit pushed into it. Overall, it was important getting support and getting back into my groove.
How did this experience influence your life as an adult?
Am I an adult? I would argue that because Focus Collegiate covered so many areas of my life… I learned to trust myself. I can do it. That was huge for me.
There are quite a few academic skills I learned. Even though it seems simple, I had never had syllabi I had to put together myself, I developed a color-coded excel spreadsheet – little tips like that. I still use these tips to continue my student success. Focus Collegiate made things feel simple which I have been able to carry over. Now, I implement strategies daily without even thinking about it.
Why did you choose Focus Collegiate over other support organizations?
They were the only ones doing what they were doing, and my academic advisor has never steered me wrong. I love that I did go with them.
What advice would you give other students who are thinking about enrolling in Focus Collegiate?
Do you! Unapologetically go with what works for you. Be as honest with them about what you need, even if you feel ashamed, nothing can truly help you until you know what’s going on. Nobody is a mind reader.