There is no way that I can share my passion and interest around studying, learning about, and understanding child and brain development without mentioning Dr. Bruce Perry, how I met him, and how this journey all began for me. This article is all about the events that led up to the day that I met Dr. Bruce Perry, exactly 6 years ago today.
Read About Me, and one important moment you will learn about my story is that I spent 2 years studying in a program that I eventually came to discover was not for me. Coming from a high school that focused on technology, computer science and business, a significant selection of the courses I was enrolled in at the time were computer/business related, such as accounting, marketing and business leadership. With all of those courses already under my belt, I naturally assumed I would be best suited towards (and most likely to be accepted to) an academic career within the field of business. As a result, it was towards a Bachelors in Human Resources Management (BHRM) that I ventured. By the end of my second year, my marks had taken a further dip. I found myself at the Academic Advising Office with an appointment to discuss my academic pathway options. I shuffled through some old emails and managed to find the original email that was send to me:
Dear Samantha Yarde,
This is a friendly reminder that your appointment to meet with an Academic Advisor
is scheduled for May 25, 2012, 9:00am
Location: Central Square, 103
After my appointment with an advisor, the only option I was left with was that I would be withdrawn from the BHRM program, but could enroll into a different business program and re-take a few of the core courses I needed in order to re-enter and continue in the BHRM program. The email that followed 5 days later stated:
Your grade report for the Fall/Winter 2011 academic session indicates that you are ineligible to proceed in your program. As a result, you have been exited from your (BAS, BDEM, BHRM, BPA or BSW) degree program.
And just like that, I was no longer enrolled in the BHRM program and faced with 2 decisions to make:
- Continue in another program, bring up my marks, and re-enter the BHRM program at some point. I had already started the program anyways. Or,
- Withdraw from the program altogether and reflect on the direction of my future.
I’m sure you know by now the choice I decided to make.
Initially, my plan was to take a year off, do some volunteering, and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. However, it didn’t take long for me to come to terms with exactly what it was I needed to do; which was to follow the passion I had as a child of becoming a teacher. By September 2012, the same year I had withdrawn from the BHRM program, I was already beginning the next chapter of my life. I applied and was accepted into a four-year Bachelor of Early Childhood Leadership program; but, within a couple of days, quickly decided that I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice to end up exactly where I had started. By the second week, I was transferred into a two-year Early Childhood Education program. While those were two really great years of my academic career, I knew that I wanted to continue my studies. In January of 2014, I was nearing graduation. I started thinking about what I wanted to do next and where I wanted to go. The easiest option for me was to stay at George Brown College, and take the bridging courses I needed to transition back into the Early Childhood Leadership program, which I had initially applied to. By this point in my life, I was confident that I wanted to continue pursuing a career within the field of early childhood. So, I thought to myself, why not just continue on, at this school, and with this program? And I probably would have, if it wasn’t for the Career & Education Fair:
“The Career & Education Fair provides opportunities to meet potential employers, explore educational pathways, learn about professional organizations and attend workshops supporting professional development.” (GBC Newsletter, 2014)
The day of the fair, I learned of 2 new paths I could take: I could go on to obtain a Bachelor in Early Childhood Education, or I could apply to the Honours Bachelor of Child Development (BCD) program; which, of course, was the direction I ended up going. Thinking back now, there was something about my course on Infant and Child Development (PSYC1075), and learning all about developmental health, the architecture of the brain, early brain development, neural and sensory pathways, self-regulation, genes and environment, developmental milestones, and so much more that struck my interest. By September of 2014, not only was I enrolled and ready to begin the BCD program, but I had also discovered Dr. Bruce Perry and of his work, while he was a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, many years ago. I recall him mentioning a book he had published in 2006 titled, The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook–What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing. Captivated to continue learning more, I decided to order a copy of this book.
Over the following two and a half years in the BCD program, not only would I be required to read this same book for one of my courses, but I’d also be invited by one of my professors to an event that Dr. Perry would be speaking at. Fast forward to May 11, 2015, where I’d be sitting alongside my peers at the Roots of Empathy Research Symposium in Toronto, Canada. That day, exactly 6 years ago today, I had the chance to meet one of my greatest inspirations in the field. Back in 2014 when I finally had a clearer idea of what I wanted to do with my life and what I was most passionate about, Dr. Perry further opened the doors to my interest in child and brain development, neuroscience, trauma and the importance of early childhood experiences. This brings me to the 2 reasons why I wanted to write and share this article with you:
- The Roots of Empathy will be hosting their 2021 Research Symposium on May 11th (today! what a coincidence) & 12th from 1:00-3:00 PM ET. It is virtual, free and open to the public. This event will bring together neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and experts on empathy like Dr. Richard Davidson, Dr. Dan Siegel, and of course, Dr. Bruce Perry.
- Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey are co-authors of a new book titled, What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing, which was released on April 27th and is a #1 New York Times Bestseller.
While I won’t be able to attend the Roots of Empathy Research Symposium this year, I share it with the hopes that you might be able to attend and learn from it, as well as share it with others. I did, however, attend one of Perry and Winfrey’s virtual book tours and look forward to continuing reading What Happened to You? I can already see that it is making a significant impact on the world, and the ways that we view and understand early childhood experiences, brain science, trauma and healing. Have you gotten your copy yet? 📖
Interested in learning more about Roots of Empathy?
Interested in learning more about the What Happened to You?
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