Student Shaciarra Drake is Driven by Passion to Help the Underserved

961 1028 For Our Wellness


Shaciarra Drake should be on a poster representing that famous Ghandi quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” The 24-year-old Meridian, Mississippi native has demonstrated at nearly every turn in her life a commitment to the promise of those words.

She graduated from Grambling State University as the school’s valedictorian with a B.A. in Psychology. While at Grambling State, she was president of the Psychology and Sociology Club, vice president of Pi Gamma Mu Honor Society, a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, the Earl Lester Cole Honors College and Miss Phi Beta Sigma 2016-2017. As a member of the track team, she won first place in the 100m hurdles and broke the Florida A&M record for that event.

Now pursuing her clinical psychology doctorate in The Chicago School’s program on the Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) campus, Shaciarra took time out of her hectic schedule to respond to a few questions from us.

What inspired you to pursue psychology? Are their parts of your story growing up that played a role?

My mother raised us as a single mother, with the support of her family of course. She worked incredibly hard to provide for us, but it was still difficult a great deal of the time. As a result of the neighborhood we lived in, I attended a school that did not have many resources to draw upon while other children lived a completely different life (i.e., received a better education, benefited from having social networks that ensures their success in certain aspects of life (whether they were qualified or not), etc.), with a variety of resources within the same city depending on their neighborhood. So, I thought about the psychological effects of the socioeconomic stratification. I didn’t think of it in those terms as a child of course.

As I progressed through life, I was also invested in my community (i.e., listening to people vent about their problems and offering solutions to the best of my ability, visiting the older people in the neighborhood, making friends with socially isolated children, trying to get other children gathered at the playground for fun) and other students at my school, including my friends. In addition, I witnessed numerous incidents where undiagnosed and untreated mental health {issues} were invisible factors in people’s lives (i.e., fighting, crime, etc.). Overall, my limited resources and the differences (i.e., access to resources, people’s reactions to me) that resulted from those, along with my desire to invest and care for others, inspired me to pursue psychology.

Is there an intersection in your life that connects your athletic endeavors and accomplishments with your pursuit of psychology?

I used my athletic abilities to secure financial resources to help me obtain an education. I did learn to use psychology to push myself physically as far as athletics, especially after I got injured in my freshman year of undergrad. Getting injured when I had such high expectations of my athletic performances during graduate school was incredibly difficult for me, but I used psychology and my resilience so that I could continue to pursue athletic success alongside my pursuit of academic excellence. While I didn’t ever fully achieve my original dreams, I did accomplish great things during my athletic career.

What are your long-term plans regarding career and your future?

My long-term plans regarding my career and future: achieve and maintain a healthy balance between investing time and energy into my clients and investing time and energy into my personal self-care, (i.e., rest and relaxation, time spent with family and friends, fostering connections within the community, and volunteer work). Through my experience at graduate school, I have learned the importance and benefit of self-care and investing in yourself so that you can actually be helpful to others and continue to enjoy your professional work.

A more defined/concrete long-term goal at this point in my career would be to become a clinical psychologist that works with children; hopefully improving their levels of cognitive, emotional, and academic functioning through a variety of channels.

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