What does a 21-year-old and a 42-year-old have in common? For MDIS students Angelyn Rachel Fletcher and Ailene Tan, it turns out that they have plenty of similarities with one another despite being two decades apart.
With a mutual love for psychology, 21-year-old Angelyn and 42-year-old Ailene both decided to enrol in the International Foundation Diploma in Psychology at MDIS. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a freshman hoping to jumpstart your career, or an adult learner interested in fine-tuning your craft – these two aspiring psychology professionals prove that age is no barrier when it comes to pursuing your passion. Not only do they get along well with each other, the unlikely classmates also share similar views on issues they care about. We speak to Angelyn and Ailene to learn more about their unique perspectives and eye-opening learning experience at MDIS.
What made you decide to pursue a Diploma in Psychology?
Angelyn: I was curious about what made a person tick and what made them do what they did. I was very into the world of criminology and my police officer dad couldn’t have been more overjoyed. But upon hopping onto the psychology train, I realised that it wasn’t as easy as I had thought and there are so many more sides to it – gerontology, clinical, educational, etc. From there, I decided to pave a path for myself and pursue a diploma in the field.
Ailene: Similarly, I was curious about people; I wanted to know how a person behaves and what their thoughts are through interaction and communication. Psychology has always been my passion since I was 25, but I wasn’t brave enough to step out of my comfort zone due to financial concerns in the past. Having been in the supply chain business for 20 years, it became too much of a routine and I felt like there wasn’t anymore room for personal growth. I’ve been harbouring this thought for more than a decade and there was an inner voice that kept saying “never try, never know”, so why not? Now, I realised that nothing is impossible as long as you put in effort.
What first sparked your passion for psychology?
Angelyn: I’ve always had the knack for helping others, so I thought that teaching would be a strong start to my education journey. However, after working in a childcare centre for six months, I realised that there was so much more to learn about the children there instead of just teaching them. There was a particular kid who caught my attention – he had ADHD so the students were separated from him as parents would complain if he disturbed the children. I couldn’t disagree that his behaviour would’ve caused discomfort to the others, but I felt that it was unfair. Hence, I researched on courses related to the situation after I left the job, and stumbled upon the MDIS School of Psychology. Neglect can have severe consequences on anyone, regardless of gender, race or religion. I hope to make positive changes in their lives, no matter how small.
What was your initial expectation of the psychology field and how did it differ from what you thought it would be?
Angelyn: It’s more than just about helping those in need mentally to achieve a state of normality, but it also requires so much from me as a well-rounded individual – to be patient, understanding, a good listener, and always having empathy no matter what. Ever since I stepped into MDIS, the lecturers have always made me view psychology as so much more than reading people’s behaviour and helping them, so much so that I’ve never been happier pursuing this field of interest. Having received the Academic Excellence Award (Top 3 student) as well being part of countless events in school, it’s so rewarding to see how far I’ve come.
What’s a typical day for you like in school?
Angelyn: For me, I would try to make time for those who are always by themselves before tending to my own tasks at hand. In psychology terms, I have a type-B personality (extrovert) so I’m the kind to put others before myself regardless of the situation. Sometimes I find myself juggling much more than I can handle, but I’ve started to adjust myself to become more attentive in my studies while finding a balance for others.
In class, we enjoy putting ourselves in role play scenarios, where we would research about the facts and sometimes get so engrossed in the topic that time would just fly by. We often help one another out, be it assignments or projects. Without a doubt, there’ve been countless arguments among the groups over the past few months, but I’m glad that everyone can be themselves because it’s the most important to be yourself and not the way others would want you to.
How are the classroom dynamics like between the both of you?
Angelyn: I’ve always seen Aileen as a big sister to me. She’ll be there whenever I need help and the one who keeps me on track and motivated when the deadlines are coming up. In fact, I feel that having people from all different walks of life just makes the classroom that much more lively and unique in every way.
Ailene: Although we have a two-decade age gap, it’s fun to be with these youngsters. They are an IT-savvy and creative bunch, and I learned heaps of things from them that I didn’t get a chance to be exposed to when I was their age.
For Ailene, what are some of the differences between being a student back then and now as an MDIS student?
Ailene: In the past, learning took place in the classroom and facts were derived from the textbooks we had. Now, we learn and explore new ideas from each other, as well as through books, movies and the Internet thanks to the advancement of technology.
At what point of your life would you/did you consider yourself as an adult?
Angelyn: I wouldn’t consider myself an adult based on a certain age. Instead, I’ll consider myself an adult when I’m able to be independent in making my own decisions. Being an adult would mean being financially stable and able to balance every other aspect of your life simultaneously.
Ailene: For me, it was when I first started working straight after the ‘O’ Levels. Once you’ve entered the workforce, you can only count on yourself to tackle any obstacles that come your way. From there, you’ll become more mature as you go through the challenges.
What keeps the both of you motivated when the going gets tough?
Angelyn: My family has always been my motivation. That, and also – grit. It’s a word that I stand by to motivate me again and again, after watching a video of Angela Lee Duckworth talking about it. Just like any other teenager, I found myself always asking the same question whenever I’m faced with pressure during the course: “Do I really want this?” However, ever since that video, I’d remind myself of the lives I could help in the future and the places it will take me after I graduate.
Ailene: I come from a humble family so my parents couldn’t afford my school fees. Hence, I had to juggle between two jobs while pursuing my studies. It was a challenging journey, but through perseverance and determination, I trust that you will meet your goals and objectives. There is no easy route in life so never give up.
From a psychology perspective, what’s the important takeaway you’ve learned about yourself after embarking on this journey?
Angelyn: I can build more meaningful relationships now that I’m able to better understand people and their behaviour. Thanks to psychology, it has helped in my communications skills to be more effective. I’m also able to understand myself better, which resulted in me having more self-confidence as I’m able to identify my weaknesses and improve on them.
Ailene: I began to have a different mindset and better understanding towards others. Instead of seeing the worst aspect of things, I became more optimistic.
What are your personal expectations for the future?
Angelyn: I hope to be able to use my skills in the psychology field and open my own practice someday instead of being pinned down in a 9 to 5 job. I want to have the continuous passion and grit to improve myself along the way no matter what age I may be – be it 21 or 101.
Ailene: Aside from pursuing a Degree in Psychology, I also hope to contribute to the society by doing more volunteer work.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Angelyn: “If you want to be successful in this world, follow your passion – not a paycheck.”
Ailene: Pursue your dreams and never give up. Bad times won’t last, take it as a journey and you will grow to be a better person. At the end of the day, you will definitely be proud of yourself.
Don’t let anything hold you back from realising your dreams! If you’re interested in pursuing the field of psychology like Angelyn and Ailene, click here to find out more about the psychology programmes available at MDIS.