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Avery Potvin: “How I Make It Work”

From students fresh out of undergrad to professionals who are retraining for a new career, the Michigan School of Psychology welcomes students wherever they are in life. “How I Make It Work”  highlights the diversity of student experiences as they balance classes, work, and life

Name: Avery Potvin, MAPhoto of Avery Potvin

Program: PsyD

Describe the (joys and) challenges in your life that make graduate school difficult to manage, especially now during the stress and upheaval of the COVID-19 and racism pandemics.

Within the last two years, the world has experienced several challenges and obstacles that have led to hardship, loss and adaptation. Despite these encounters, I believe we have adopted a heightened appreciation for the value in connection. My joys today were underappreciated prior, and I have since learned the importance of being intentionally present and openly grateful for my friends and family. 
How do you make it work?
I am fortunate to have an encouraging support system to keep me accountable and motivated. My friends and family help me to solidify my expectations for myself and others while offering me agency to grow independently. They also have the most profound patience for me.
What are some tips or secrets you have for staying organized with a busy schedule?
My calendar gets me through. Any reminder, appointment, due date, gathering, submission, etc. is color coordinated in my calendar and synced to all my devices. This has helped me tremendously in both grad school and clinical practice.
How do you make time for yourself?
I love spending time alone, so I typically carve out time to do this. I have been working to set unwavering boundaries for both work and school to allow myself to lean into time off without feeling obligated to be productive. I find I am more efficient when I have given myself time to recharge, which is fundamental to my progress and productivity.
How do you avoid feeling overwhelmed?
I don’t think I’ve ever felt not-overwhelmed in grad school. I think there is somewhere in the middle of underwhelmed and overwhelmed that may be a healthy place for a grad student, but I have yet to find that. I have a heightened appreciation for days-off and slow weeks, however, I tend to function at my best when I am task-oriented. Feeling overwhelmed has not been a negative experience for me throughout grad school, as it is accompanied with academic reward and enhanced self-efficacy.

What support have you received from MSP?

MSP has been compassionate, kind and generous in supporting students. Since I am Canadian, there were countless forms involved in attending a US school, and I was fortunate to have Amanda Ming to assist me through this process. Her endless support and efforts solidified my appreciation for the staff and faculty at MSP.

What advice would you give a prospective student who is worried about making grad school work?

Grad school in any capacity is a commitment to yourself, and your career. There will be definite fears and hesitations, much like any commitment, however, they quickly dissipate. Graduate school is an investment in your growth and competence, as well as an instrumental asset to your career and future. If grad school is a pursuit that you are committed to, then the sacrifices will be secondary to the gains of this experience