My name is Aditi Sharma and I am a research intern at Epoch Elder Care. Currently, I am completing my masters in clinical psychology from Symbiosis College of Arts & Commerce, Pune. I am a mental health research aspirant who has worked with special children, children & adult disabilities ranging from neuro-developmental disorders to mental disorders, and rehabilitation.

Today, on the occasion of world students day, I would like to put light on the three principles that shape my journey as a student. First principle is “never giving up” which I learnt from my mother. When I was about 7 years old, I had a minor squint issue in my right eye which severely affected my learning abilities & self-esteem. My inability to see my capabilities affected my vision to see beyond my disability. In the midst of all the chaos around me, I paused and saw my mother. She guided me with love. Seeing her unconditional effort towards me, eventually made me conquer my disability.

Which brings me to my second principle, being “courageous”. I was 15 years old when I decided to become a clinical psychologist. A lot of people told me a lot of things about this profession. Some positives but many negatives. I was 18 years old when I got the opportunity to intern at a hospital in Delhi where I saw the difficulties of this profession & the harsh realities of encountering various psychological disorders, as well as the helplessness that comes with it. Surprisingly, I saw myself willing to continue to step into the clinic the next day and hear many other challenging realities. This is when I met the “courage” in me towards my ambition.

I was fortunate enough to recently learn the third principle that shaped my student life. This principle is called “expertise”. Being a college student, I found myself too occupied with books, assignments and the competition to top my class. I would spend hours reading a research or blog article on neuropsychology and try to discuss it with my professor in the next class. However, after a point I found myself feeling helpless! Helpless, reading about the people and their psychopathological deficits without actually helping them live normally with their impairment. It was a point in my life where I realized that I had something more to offer to the world and I felt as if I was wasting that skill. This is when, Epoch happened to me!

Now, it has been more than a month with Epoch and I found myself not only studying but also expanding my skills for a larger cause. My mentor, Anju ma’am at Epoch has pushed me to study and expand my knowledge to not only help Epoch residents but also to develop my skills. She has been my backbone and teacher beyond my college classroom. Epoch helped me learn that expertise lies in not only scoring good in college or studying but also in developing skills to serve the “one in need” and most importantly it taught me the power of companionship.

Expertise also lies in seeing & sensing the knowledge for real. Recently, my friend & I visited Epoch Monet house in Pune. He’s an engineer in defence technology and holds a certain notion of viewing care for dementia. This view rests on the societal belief that residents with dementia care are treated typically like patients. However, when we arrived, both of us were surprised to encounter a familiar home-like environment over there. He saw elders with dementia interacting as normally as anyone else. There was a difference not just in terms of the aesthetics of the place but also the interaction with dementia residents that made the place feel like home to both of us. Interacting, playing games and listening to residents sing songs were the highlights of the day for us. My visit to Epoch home has been a learning experience. My mentor at Monet was Saju sir who made us see a different perspective on dementia care.

In this developing phase of my life, my mentors uplifted the spirit of a student and a beautiful human in me. My mentors poured the light into my colorful canvas. They helped me see the capabilities of situations rather than their disabilities.

I would like to end by quoting Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, “Creativity is seeing the same thing but thinking differently.” With this thought, I will continue to positively impact the lives of many people around me as I shape myself in this journey called life.

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