Do you feel like you’re fulfilling your life’s purpose? In fact, have you discovered what your true calling is yet? Melissa Cupido has. A string of trials and tribulations steered her along an unexpected path of discovery, which has culminated in her qualifying with a degree in psychology from SACAP.
In hindsight Melissa, 29, says she realizes her tricky times were necessary because they’ve led to the unearthing of what really makes her tick. We asked her to tell us a little more about her journey with SACAP. Did she enjoy her Bachelor of Applied Social Science? What doors does she hope it will open for her? How does she plan to use her psychology degree in the future? Here’s what she had to say.
Melissa goes for gold
“My dream job is to have a successful wellness centre with a number of community outreach programmes under the same banner,” says Melissa.
Currently an insurance underwriter in Cape Town, she’s excited about achieving her end goal. “I’d like the centre to focus on providing various courses or workshops to individuals and groups,” she says.
Why wellness? “At the age of 16 my family and I relocated to Canada where I struggled to adjust and suffered from depression and anxiety,” Melissa explains. “The following year we decided to move back to Cape Town, but unfortunately my struggle with mental health was on-going.”
Two years later Melissa decided to get professional help. “I went to a local clinic and discovered many skills for coping with mental illness. As a result, I found myself gravitating towards the helping profession. My amazing SACAP journey began in 2014!” she exclaims.
Details driving the way
Why choose to study a psychology degree through SACAP? “I liked the idea of the small classes and the Work Integrated Learning (WIL),” Melissa says. Subsequently, she’s discovered that she got so much more than she’d initially bargained for.
Firstly, the WIL component of her course surpassed her expectations. “It really gave me an amazing opportunity to learn and grow,” she says. “I got to implement various interventions and workshops under the supervision of my placement site and my SACAP coordinator.”
“Secondly, I loved the manner in which we were taught. Most of our assignments were focused on applying the theories and understanding them from an application standpoint.”
Thirdly, and most importantly, the learning environment was just as Melissa had hoped: “I enjoyed the small, intimate campus where lecturers have the capacity to get to know students and understand where additional support could be beneficial,” she says.
Top score for SACAP
Would she recommend SACAP? “Without a second thought,” says Melissa. “I loved every minute of studying psychology at SACAP. My lectures were always interesting and interactive. Also, our assignments tested how well we could apply the theory instead of solely focusing on how well we could remember the theory.”
To emphasize her approval Melissa gives her SACAP instructors a whopping 10 out of 10. “I had an educator check in with me recently,” she says. “Three years after graduating she sent a message to say she hasn’t forgotten about her students and she hopes that we’re all doing okay during the Covid-19 pandemic. How awesome is that!”
Melissa discovers the power of her purpose
Has her SACAP qualification helped her achieve what she’s doing in her career today? “Absolutely! It assists me daily in my communications with various stakeholders,” Melissa affirms. “It’s also developed my skills so that I can support my colleagues when they struggle with the high-pressure environment in which we work.”
It’s this capacity and affinity for helping others that has ultimately led to Melissa recognizing the power of her purpose. SACAP’s Bachelor of Applied Social Science was instrumental in this discovery, she says.
“During my WIL module I was placed at Kirstenhof Police Station where I worked in the Victim Empowerment Programme. To date, I am still a volunteer and assist many victims who require support for different reasons.”
Even now in the face of the coronavirus pandemic Melissa says her psychology degree continues to pay dividends. “During the hard lockdown I volunteered to support a group of around 80 people from areas across Cape Town,” she explains. “I provided one-on-one support to those battling with financial pressure, relationship concerns and even losing loved ones to Covid-19.”
“My Bachelor of Applied Social Science degree had dual benefits,” she continues. “One, I was able to assist and help others. Two, my work gave me a sense of purpose and pride because I had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others during such a difficult time for many.”
Prospects to be pleased about
Melissa admits she was unaware she would discover her calling in psychology. As a child she dreamed of becoming a vet, which she imagines may have been a clue to her empathetic nature.
Equipped with this innate compassion and the valuable skills she acquired through her Bachelor of Applied Social Science in Psychology and Counselling Melissa is excited about her future.
What’s more, Melissa hopes the centre will become a learning place for SACAP students, too. “I would love to play a part in the wonderful work being done through SACAP’s WIL process and provide students with on-the-job experience,” she says.
As American singer Beverly Sills famously said: “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” Sure, you may hit some bumps along the road, but like Melissa you can learn from them and use your experience to fortify your future. SACAP offers a wide range of counselling and psychology courses that you can study on campus or online. If you’re inspired about pursuing your purpose get in touch. Your unique path of discovery could be a simple mouse-click away.