Name: Taylor Thomas
Type of Project: Artistic and Creative Endeavors
1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.
My project consisted of creating a documentary centered on life changing moments. I interviewed a total of 15 people about a life changing moment in their life and how this moment has since impacted them. These interviews were then compiled into my finished documentary.
2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.
When I first started my STEP project, I was a Neuroscience major bent on going to medical school and becoming a doctor (specifically a psychiatrist). But as I began working on this project and began to hear the stories of how the people I interviewed have had their lives transformed, I began to reflect on my own life changing moments. Through this time of reflection, I realized that I was not passionate about medicine and no longer wanted to become a doctor. Becoming a doctor was something I could do, but it wasn’t something that I wanted to do. I knew I was still passionate about mental health, and realized later that pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology better fit my desired goals, so I switched my major to psychology this past year. Additionally, after seeing how traumatic events can have such an impact on a person’s life, I now aspire to specialize in helping those with PTSD and other trauma related mental health conditions in my future educational pursuits.
This project also strengthened my view that every person in this world has a story to tell. The scope of some of these stories was explored over the course of completing my documentary and truly opened my eyes to how people can impact each other. I have come to realize how all people are on a journey in life and that everyone has been shaped by past experiences they have had, for better or for worse.
3. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.
As mentioned previously, I interviewed a total of 15 people for my project. Of these people, a few stuck out to me and played a major role in transforming my educational and professional career goals as well as my views of the world. One of these people was a girl that I went to high school with, but hadn’t really talked to much since she graduated the year before me. She shared with me how she had become addicted to drugs and as a result of that, she had been in a physically abusive relationship. She described the physical altercation in which she decided she had finally had enough and left her then boyfriend to go get sober. Since then, she has met a guy who treats her well and she now has a beautiful baby girl who she loves more than anything.
This interview stuck out to me in that it sparked a desire in my heart to help those who have gone through similar traumatic experiences. At that point, I had already switched my major to psychology and had a PhD in clinical psychology in mind for graduate school, but this event was still significant in that it led me to decide what in particular I wanted to specialize in. It allowed me to realize that I wanted to focus my education on learning how to help individuals recover from traumatic experiences.
Another interview that helped transform me was the interview I did with my sister. She told the story of when she found her dog Louie in a dumpster and how she had rescued him. He had been thrown in the dumpster along with a litter of puppies, though most of them had died. My sister had thought that Louie too would die, but somehow, he survived and now serves as her service dog. This story taught me that no matter what has happened to you, no matter where you come from, there is always hope in the future. No one expected Louie to survive, yet here he is, alive and well.
4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.
During the year I took to complete this project, I was going through a transitional phase in life where I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to continue down the educational and career path I had chosen for myself. Creating this documentary and hearing stories of life changing moments, though, allowed me to realize what I was truly passionate about and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. This experience has been crucial in helping to shape my goal of becoming a clinical psychologist. Personally, it has also helped affirm and strengthen my view of others as individuals with a story to tell. It has shown me that experiences have an impact on who we are and who we become, though negative experiences don’t necessarily have to define us. This project has shown me that there is hope in the future and that you can overcome adversity. These views and beliefs are essential for not only my future profession in helping others overcome adversity, but also in my personal life as I face challenges day to day.
To watch the finished documentary or to watch individual interviews, check out my project’s youtube channel: