Dr. Daija S. Foster in the Making
Alive & Free and Educated
Daija Foster is a 2013 graduate of Spelman College with a degree in Psychology with a concentration in Neuroscience and is a proud Alumni of the Alive & Free’s Omega Boys Club.
In fall 2013, Foster began her four-year journey as a doctoral candidate at the Chicago School of Psychology in Los Angeles, California and is studying clinical forensic psychology.
After her first semester of her program Daija shares with us how Alive & Free has helped to stand on her own, her first day jitters at graduate school and how she applies the Alive & Free methodology to her studies to better treat those infected by the disease of violence and mental illness.
Alive & Free: Then and Now
Alive & free to me in undergrad meant that I needed to be healthy and breathing and not incarcerated-It was nothing more than that. That was how I looked at it-I’m not dead and I’m not in jail.
Now I look at it differently. You can be alive but not necessarily living. And being free does not necessarily mean to not be incarcerated. To me, being free means being educated, working towards your dream, and not being held back from something that you’re passionate about.
A Healthy Person Stands Alone
Being by myself I have the time dig deep into my past and think about why I behaved a certain way and I really started learning. I can now analyze people for who they really are and not who they possibly could be.
I realized why I was holding on to so many “friendships” and engaged in certain relationships because I saw potential.
The biggest thing in psych is the here and now. When I learned to focus on the here and now and not worry about the future I started be less stressed and built a closer relationship with God.
I’m not distracted or trying to fit in with people. I spend so much time with myself that I am comfortable being myself around other people.
Alive & Free and Educated
When I first started my program I was very intimidated especially after the first day of orientation. I cried after orientation because I was so intimidated by everyone.
A lot of people have masters degrees, are older, worked in the field for years, and seemed like they knew so much.
As the semester progressed I noticed that I was not inferior. The same people who I used to ask questions are now coming to me with questions. I became more confident in my abilities that had a lot to do with reading the textbooks and learning how to apply the concepts.
You are your hardest critic so if you can take on what you’re reading and apply it to your life and make those changes then you can influence someone else to make those changes too.
Alive & Free in the Field
Alive & Free in the field really relates to psychology and the methodology is something I will use when working with clients. I want to help people with mental illnesses understand that their life is not over-they can live their lives and still be free. My clients will be able to receive treatment by someone sitting down and talking with them.
If more psychologists had this background, clinical forensic psychology, in particular, there would be better options and treatment methods because they would really understand.
It just dawned on me that you learn all of this stuff and you always don’t know why. I used sit in class and thought why am I learning all of this because I wanted to an anesthesiologist (laughter). Now I’m going wherever God takes me.
Alive & Free’s Impact
The biggest thing is that A&F has taught me to feel comfortable being me. In order to be in the profession that I pursing I have to be comfortable with myself and other people.
Everything in my life makes sense. I have been through things in my past. I’ve witnessed someone get murdered at a party, my brother was murdered and Omega really helped me to break all of that down.
They tie it in by giving you the commandments of violence and the germs and those are really real life tools. It’s so real and it’s so true how there are different factors in your life.
Support and Mentorship
I really appreciated the scholarship program at Alive & Free/ Omega Boys Club and cannot wait to give back so that I can help send another little girl to school.
The relationships that I built at Omega helped me out a lot. I always had people checking up on me. To this day, Dr. Marshall calls and texts me to see if everything is all right and I appreciate that.
Words to the Next Omega
What you put in is what you get out of Omega.