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How UofGH alumna Holly Boyne built success by embracing community

Holly Boyne

University of Guelph-Humber Psychology alumna Holly Boyne knew she wanted to attend a university that would give her a close-knit and supportive community like she’d grown up with in Elmira, Ontario. And at UofGH, she found that community, built her confidence, and prepared for a successful career.

“I grew up in a small town, so I needed that small, close-knit place where I would know my classmates and my professors, could ask questions, and really be engaged in that way,” recalls Boyne.

At UofGH, Boyne not only felt at home, but she also used her time to build towards a successful future. Boyne immersed herself in the UofGH community; her many campus activities included joining the Psych Society, working at several work-study jobs, and volunteering extensively at events like Common Time, where Psychology students from all years get together and learn from experts in the psychology field. “I was as involved as you could be,” she says.

A supportive community

She also built a strong support network at UofGH that helped her to plan her career path. “It takes a village. Having that community aspect was really crucial for me,” she says. “I strategically planned while I was at UofGH how to get to where I am today. The network of people at UofGH to support me was so critical for me. Having people who genuinely cared about me, my professors who invited me into their office to see how I’m doing and who asked about my goals, and then remembering my goals and helping me throughout the process, was really incredible.”

She recalls talking with Psychology Program Head Dr. David Danto during her first year at UofGH, and seeking his advice. “I asked him what I needed to do to be successful in this field and he listed out all these incredible things - the fact that he gave me his time as a first-year student meant so much to me and was another confirmation why I chose UofGH,” she says. Dr. Danto’s advice included talking with Career Services, her professors, and people in the field.

Boyne is currently in her first year of U of T’s Master’s program in School and Clinical Child Psychology, and plans to pursue a PhD after she completes her Master’s. “I used all the resources at UofGH; I basically talked to anyone who would listen, and used the full network to support me to get to where I am today,” she says. “I really went in with both feet, and now I’m in this Master’s program which is just the most exciting and wonderful thing to do today, and I’m really happy to be where I am now.”

Choosing a career path

She became interested in psychology during high school. “The mix between the science and the art of psychology is really interesting to me, and how those interact with each other,” she says. “Psychology had a really wide breadth, and had a lot of different places I could take it. It allowed me to run with my interests and see where things went, and allowed me to be pretty flexible as I went along.”

Boyne’s time at UofGH also sparked her passion for child psychology. She took a child psychology course and did her field placement with a clinical child psychologist at an elementary school, which gave her an inside look into the field and cemented her career choice. “My field placement confirmed this was the area I wanted to get into and set out that this was the only option for me,” she says.   

After graduating from UofGH in 2017, Boyne took a year off to prepare to apply to graduate school and for the required entrance exams. She says the application process was challenging; however, she says her time at UofGH taught her some valuable lessons that she carried with her during this time. “I had the school side down -- academically it was there, but there’s another side to undergrad which is learning persistence and learning to be confident in your abilities, which in my fourth year at UofGH, I started to get good at as well,” she says. “Applying to grad school was stressful, but literally the moment I got the call that I was accepted, I said I would do it all over again.”

For current Psychology students or those who are thinking about entering the psychology field, Boyne says it can be difficult to choose what path to take, but encourages students not to be too hard on themselves. “Recognize it’s a continuous process,” she says. “It’s part of the journey as you’re going forward. Be confident, allow yourself the flexibility of your interests and going for those interests, be kind to yourself, adjust to challenges and be persistent.”

She also encourages students to use the help available to them at school as she did. “Use all of your resources, it literally takes a village,” she says. ”The fact that when I got into grad school, I had more than 10 people outside of my family and friend group to thank and connect with and let them know, is a testament to the process and what can help you be successful - you need all the people around you to support you.”