A journey of choices & vision

Raika Sethi

Raised in an upper-middle class, I sought to head West to be a musician, an artist, and, perhaps, a psychologist. I am a product of many worlds and I could probably fill a page with what it means to be a member of each of them. My interest in pursuing education abroad developed when I was a child, inspired by my desire to learn in an environment that is novel and accepting.

The flexibility that universities in the United States offered was a major attraction too! I wanted to pursue Music Therapy, a profession that is mostly underplayed in India. I am convinced that through a combination of music and psychology, I could make a difference to the world. After much contemplation, I decided to choose Purdue University in the US as a platform where I could pursue all these interests.

My experience at Purdue has been nothing but the best. With Psychological science as a major, I have been able to explore and learn different areas of psychology. During my first year, I was keen on doing Clinical Psychology, however, now I have come to really like Industrial-Organisational psychology. This field is relatively new and deals with psychology in the workp1lace.

Employee motivation, job satisfaction, recruitment and selection styles are some of the things that I have been learning in the field. My learning here is not limited to the classroom but expands into other areas as well. Last semester, I got an opportunity to train with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a grassroots mental health organisation dedicated to building better lives.

I was certified to be a mental health first-aid trainer after the training. Since I am a full-time enrolled student, the opportunity was absolutely free for me. This is one thing I would like to emphasise — as university students, we often fail to realise the many unique opportunities and services are available to us outside the university premises.

For instance, all Purdue students have access to the student library, which provides us access to several expensive subscription-based online databases. As a fresher, I was unaware of the number of journals and articles I had access to until my English professor told me about them and explained how expensive it is to gain access of them if you are not a student at the university.

Hands-on research 

Currently, I am a ‘sophomore’ (second-year student). I have taken part in both core and general education classes. I have been taking classes like Social Psychology, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Stereotypes and Discrimination, Statistics, Cognitive Psychology, and Abnormal Psychology. These classes are part of my core curriculum. In order to graduate, I need 120 credits of which 36 credits have to be from psychology classes. For my general education classes, I took quite a few interesting courses on subjects that I had never studied before. These subjects include Introduction to Personal Finance, Music Theory and Appreciation of Music, Egyptian Anthropology and Sociology.

During my next semester, I will be working as a research assistant in the Intergroup Relations and Inclusion lab. Getting hands-on research experience is something I have been wanting to do for a while. As a research assistant, I will have the opportunity to conduct literature reviews and collect and analyse data in a laboratory setting. This experience will help me be more competitive for top graduate schools.

In addition, I have been part of a competitive Indo-American a Capella team, Purdue Taal. As a high schooler, I did not have much exposure to the art of a Capella but was more familiar with instruments. For those who are unfamiliar with a Capella, it is the art of making music solely with one’s mouth. We do not use any instruments or percussion.

In the second semester of my first year, I got the opportunity to record an album with the team.

While professionally I am still set on being an Industrial-organisational psychologist, music is something I want to pursue throughout because it is the single interest of mine that transforms me from a shy, reserved girl into a confident performer on stage. Every day, music teaches me what it means to be truly passionate and reveals to me the passion I am truly capable of.

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A journey of choices & vision

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