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My MACP Story: Alumni Write Letters to Their Younger Selves

At Yorkville University, the journey of personal and professional growth is a central theme in the lives of our students and alumni. As they navigate through the rigorous and rewarding paths of our programs, they gain insights and experiences that shape them into the professionals they aspire to be. We recently invited some of our Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology (MACP) alumni to participate in a unique exercise: writing letters to their younger selves. These letters capture their reflections, triumphs, challenges, and advice they would give to the person they once were.

Join us as we share these heartfelt and inspiring letters, offering a glimpse into the transformative journey of our students. Through their words, we hope to illuminate the profound impact of education, self-discovery, and resilience. These letters are not just messages to their past selves but also sources of wisdom and encouragement for anyone pursuing their dreams.

Dina Shamlawi: The Pursuit of This Degree Is Not Only a Title

Dina Shamlawi Headshot

Dear Dina,  

I know what you are thinking- there is no way you can do this. You are currently eight months pregnant with what will one day be your two-year-old toddler. You have felt stuck in your growth and career for years now and pursuing a degree in Psychotherapy has always been the ultimate dream of yours.

It will be hard. Most people are discouraging you away from this. You have not been back to school for years and you have been navigating the dimensions of your own identity since becoming a mom. Navigating motherhood has already been such a challenge– how will you have the time and energy? You will spend your day in mom mode and your nights researching, writing, and connecting with classmates.

You will struggle, cry, feel overwhelmed while juggling all the responsibilities. You will want to give up, you will feel enveloped with imposter syndrome that comes and goes in waves, and you will contemplate walking away every other course. You should know, however, that alongside the long hours and difficulty in navigating this journey, you will also find yourself. Being pushed to the limits is painful but it is the most rewarding experience you will have. You will be forced to sit with yourself long enough to understand, love and honor all versions of who you have been throughout your life.

The pursuit of this degree is not only a title. You will gain a new awareness of who you are, in your courses and overwhelmingly in your practicum, that will feel so personal, raw, and vulnerable. You will be pushed to your emotional limits, go through your own therapy journey, and will grow in ways you never thought possible. You will graduate, start your own business, and work alongside people who understand the significance of creating spaces for people from varying cultures and faiths. You will create your own spaces too, for those who have been silenced, marginalized, and often in need of someone who has their shared worldview and narrative. You will walk alongside and support so many incredible, resilient, and strong clients who will challenge you to continue to push toward growth and learning every single day. Those connections…priceless.  

When all is said and done, you will look back on this choice and be so proud that you made this decision. Trust me.  

With love and gratitude,  


Nisany Gnanamoorthy: Embrace Vulnerability

Nisany Gnanamoorthy headshot

Dear Younger Nisany, 

2.5 years ago, when you started the MACP program at Yorkville University, it came with a whirlwind of emotions. There was excitement, a sense of purpose, and a deep-seated passion to help others. But there was also a significant amount of fear and uncertainty. Stepping into the unknown was scary. There were doubts about your abilities to balance the workload and your personal life, and anxieties about the emotional demands of being a psychotherapist. 

One of the most pervasive challenges you faced was imposter syndrome. Despite the academic success throughout the school year, a persistent voice in your head kept telling you that you weren’t good enough. Imposter syndrome made it difficult to fully embrace your accomplishments. You often wondered if you could be the change you dreamt of. Therefore, the support from your Yorkville community, mentors, family, and friends was incredibly reassuring. Connecting with your peers provided immense comfort, reminding you that you weren’t alone in your struggles. 

If there’s one thing I could advise my younger self, it would be to embrace vulnerability. It’s okay to not have all the answers, to feel uncertain, and to make mistakes along the way. Vulnerability is not a weakness but a strength that allows for genuine connection with others and personal growth. It’s important to celebrate every milestone, no matter how small, and to be kind and patient with yourself. 

The day of the convocation ceremony was monumental. Graduating from the MACP program symbolized more than academic success; it signified a journey marked by personal growth, resilience, and unwavering dedication. Continue believing in yourself and your journey; this is just the beginning. 

Ola M. Kuforiji: This Is Your Calling

Ola Kuforiji headshot

Dear young Ola,

I look back on you and laugh and smile. There were obstacles, but you gained a brilliantly supportive network of classmates, professors, and campus staff. All you had to do was speak to them. Whether extensions were needed. Whether there was confusion or delays with finances. Things being designed to be online were so helpful. General inquiries were quickly directed to specific supports. I smile because looking at you on your first day of class, I know, you know you are going to be more than okay. You know you are about change your life for the better. You know you are taking your first step toward your professional dreams. You are about to refine the clinical knowledge you already have. You are about to learn more deeply why this is your calling. 

I laugh because although you believe all I have mentioned to be true, you don’t know why you feel this way. You have doubts. Some reasonable, some less so. I laugh because I can now tell you why. I know you are nervous about how novel the program delivery mode is. I laugh because you know you enjoy learning at your own pace, putting on your headphones and getting lost in a textbook. You know you need more, though. You know you like discussions and learn much this way. I know you assume discussions must be through lectures. I know you are not aware, on day one, how exciting and compelling your discussion questions (DQs) can be. You don’t realize that while you enjoy lectures, that they are often not discussion-oriented, which really helps you apply concepts. I will warn you that these DQs are lots of work. I will remind you, that is exactly what you are looking for. They will challenge you to communicate clearly on professionally relevant matters in a concise way, while also finding relevant research. You will learn much reading and replying to your professors and peers. 

I laugh because you read online that securing placements can be difficult, and that people often get lost and apply to many with “no luck.” I really laugh at this one, because, you didn’t know of the portal of approved sites that made finding options very simple. I am really trying not to laugh at you on this one, because I can tell you in the one interview you did for placement, that your future supervisors said “Oh, you’re from Yorkville. We’ve had a number of great placement students come from there.” 

I laugh less at this one. I know you are concerned about getting to spend time with your newborn son, Nile. You are worried about leaving everything to his mother. I really have to applaud you for this part. I know you don’t like scheduling much. What I can tell you is that despite this being a personally challenging area for you, the flexibility the program afforded allowed you to spend time with your son, your wife, and work full-time. You also became much better at organizing your time. You are really going to smile at this part. Near the end of the program, when you are in a Zoom session with your supervising professor (during placement), your not-so-newborn son walks into the room. He is excited to see you “working” on your computer. You are worried about disrupting your professor and peers, but instead, they invite him to say hello. He is warmly welcomed by the class and somehow, you know you are setting a good example for him.            


Ola M. Kuforiji, M.A.
Registered Psychotherapist 

Taegan MacLean

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