I grew up near the bayou outside of New Orleans. I am amazed by how the swamp seems never to change and yet is constantly changing at the same time. The Louisiana swamp is hot and humid, and the air seems one part water. In the swamp, your skin is almost instantly covered in a light sweat, not withstanding the wind that blows off the stagnating water. Green as the land, the water is covered in a blanket of green algae and flowered hyacinth. It seems still, but an alligator, disguised as a log lying half-submerged in the water, stares at you with its unblinking gaze, a reminder that the water is breathing too. Old Spanish moss hangs from the cypress trees, softening the corners of the sky. Cypress knees protrude from the water, hiding behind curtains of moss. The sky, meeting the water, is filled with egrets and ducks, taking flight or setting down on the water. The landscape is peaceful and beautiful, yet nature’s brutality lies just beneath the surface.
On my first trip into the swamp, my husband and I came across an alligator nest. We made the turn into a narrow, winding canal and, at that instant, fourteen pairs of reptile eyes stared into mine. The water and mud, which had been unmoving beneath our boat, was instantly writhing with baby alligator bodies. Although we could not see her, we knew that the mother alligator could not be far away and that she might charge our boat at any minute to protect her young. In the swamp, I have had my most close encounters with life and death, with beauty, passion, and danger. At that meeting point of water and sky, I come to terms with the cycle of my own life and come to accept and navigate the mystery of its poignant losses.
In a similar manner, my clinical work has made me deeply aware of children’s disquiet and need for guidance in the face of loss. These experiences helped me realize that my most fulfilling moments occur when I can positively impact and validate the lives of children, adolescents, and families who are struggling to deal with difficult life experiences and find a way to push through them. I am able to help one child at a time in a deeply meaningful way through clinical work. However, I also have a passion for research on developmental psychopathology since it may allow me to have a positive impact on thousands of children at once. My life experiences have led to career goals that are two-fold, reflecting my training in the scientist-practitioner model. My professional passion lies in child and adolescent psychotherapy and neuropsychological assessments, as well as in research focused on the etiology of developmental psychopathology. Throughout my career, I hope to be able to use both therapeutic and research skills in order to help others reach that place where the water meets the sky—the acceptance and successful navigation of life in all its beauty and brutality.