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A UofGH alumna who always wanted to help people

University of Guelph-Humber alumna Amanda Neves used to keep a journal growing up. Recently, the graduate from UofGH’s Psychology program picked up one of those diaries from when she was in Grade 6 and couldn’t believe what she had written.

“There was a little spot asking what do you want to be when you grow up, and I wrote basically: a counsellor,” she recalled with a laugh.

“I thought that was so funny because that’s exactly what I’m doing. So apparently I knew myself. It was very enlightening.”

Now, Neves indeed works as a counsellor at Turning Point Youth Services helping adolescents and families. After graduating from UofGH, she completed her Master of Social Work at the University of Toronto.

In fact, Neves recalls knowing from her very first classes at UofGH that she was on the right track in Psychology. Joining UofGH out of high-school in 2009, Neves like many students that age wasn’t entirely sure the program would be for her. Once she got into the educational environment, she knew.

“I loved it the moment I got into it,” she remembered. “Particularly learning about mental health and social justice – that lit a fire.

“I always say I’m a Libra and I like fighting for justice.”

As an undergraduate student, Neves was sure to take advantage of UofGH’s ample opportunities to assist with Research. On one of several projects she worked on, she assisted Psychology Program Head Dr. David Danto with his research looking into the mental health perceptions and practices of one Aboriginal community in northern Ontario. As part of her work, Neves listened to real recordings of knowledge keepers and community leaders discussing their experiences. She found that thrilling.

“It was so fascinating,” she recalled. “It was honestly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m so thankful to him that he was able to look at some of the strength-based points for that community.”

That rare chance to get research experience as an undergraduate student allowed Neves to see how personally rewarding research could be, at an unusually early age.

“The idea of research, when you’re external to it, it sounds like this thing where you’re secluded in a room,” she pointed out. “But when you’re doing it – at least the research I’ve been a part of – you’re talking to people and really learning about their experiences. A lot of the time, these are marginalized populations you’re trying to find out more about.

“I loved it.”

Neves, who was also a Student Transition and Resource Team (START) Leader during her time at UofGH, began to work at Turning Point Youth Services during a work placement as she pursued her master’s degree. She then found full-time employment there after graduating.

She still looks back at the professional relationships she made as a student at UofGH and sees how they set her on the path she’s on now.

“Funny enough, it really has to do with the connections you make, and for that there’s nothing better than small classroom sizes,” she said. “I appreciated so much getting to know the people who were actually teaching me.

“I learned to seek out those relationships. You never know where a connection could lead.”