University of Southern California undergraduate,
A psych major and science teacher, Lindsay has made a study of how kids learn, of what inspires curiosity, and — along the way — themself.
Psyched -- or not?
Two therapists told Lindsay that they were just anxious — fine, not schizophrenic, just stressed out. That didn’t sit well with them, so they sought a different therapist. “For [a therapist] to say ‘You’re probably just having a bad day and you’re exhausted, and here are some things you can do for that…Here’s something that can relax you.’ But the other therapist was like, ‘No, you’re fine, just keep living your life,’ which wasn’t really helpful. It made Lindsay feel guilty, too. “The whole vibe I got was like, ‘Why are you depressed, you’re at USC. Be happy! (Lindsay makes a heart sign with their hands.) But they thought, “Obviously, if I’m seeking help I’m not happy, so let’s start there.”
Lindsay also thought they had trouble getting care “first as a woman of color, second as a fat woman of color, third as a first generation student of color.” Yes, they said, they were stressed by those things. Instead of accepting that, they sought resources to remedy the stress. “It’s really hard having to advocate for yourself.” Lindsay felt especially called upon to advocate for others, too. “Women of color on campus are [assumed to be] strong feminists.” The message, Lindsay says, was that they had to be strong and mentally ok. “Yes, I’m feminist. Yes, I will stand up for my people, however I still have to take antidepressants. And that’s not the stereotypical image of being mentally strong,”
Years later, when I was interviewing for a job as an engineer, the interviewer asked me a technical question and I had no idea, but as I was talking to him I saw some of the book on his shelf. I said, “Well, give me that book and I can give you the answer.” I thought it was my worst interview ever, but that person offered me a job because of the fact that apparently no one ever knows the answer to that question and people try to punt. I’m like, i have no idea but I know that answer’s in that book, so the confidence wasn’t from knowing everything or being super smart, I just knew I had the capability figure things out.
At times Lindsay felt uncomfortable being referred to as she/her. They realized those pronouns didn’t always match their self-image — and that it was a day-to-day response. They work to identify with others as they work to understand whether they feel more Lindsay or more Spencer, and to be easy-going about the adjustment others make — while appreciating the extra effort even young students make to address them appropriately.
Psyched -- Or Not?
Inspired by an older sister who majored in psychology, Lindsay decided to try it. It helped to have a mentor who had majored in psychology — and gone on to work at Sony Pictures. Lindsay themself wants to eventually become a screenwriter, and believes psychology will help them create characters. While Lindsay loves their student teaching experience, it has shown them that they don’t want to become a teacher professionally. “At some point I want to work with children,” Lindsay says — and knows the psychology major will help with that, too.
College Feeder Programs
Not only did Lindsay’s participation in the National Academic Initiative assure their tuition to the partner school (USC), but it provided a mentor. “Because I knew DJ before I came to college, she said you have a job secure [with JEP], you don’t have to worry about work study or having to source out other jobs. She had opportunities for me.” Lindsay works with JEP’s Young Scientist Program as well as Wonderkids, teaching science topics. This allows them to “pay it forward” to the next generation of students from her own neighborhood. “I love to see them excited about science. When I was a kid we had programs like Young Scientists Program, but with a white teacher I thought science was predominantly white. It’s nice knowing I’m giving students of color from my area [my example] of doing science.”
El Sol y La Luna
USC’s Latinx community finds support through this program, which includes a residence.
Big Brothers, Big Sisters
It was this nationwide mentor program that brought Lindsay together with their mentor from Sony Pictures. In monthly meetings, they talk about jobs and the mentor offers information and advice. The mentor lets Lindsay know about internships they might apply for — and even invites them to her Oscars-viewing party. Find out more and get involved here.
Lindsay speaks of the difficulty of working in science, still a predominantly white career. “I have to prove to people that I did things correctly or that I’m teaching the right thing, that I know,.” They get tired of having to advocate for themself, to say, “Actually, I’m correct, I did the research.” And I don’t talk like this normally, in real life. My voice is usually deeper. On camera or Zoom or while teaching, I sound white because I’m pavlovved my way into having a specific tone to make sure I have authority, that I sound like I know what I’m talking about.” I learned that at a very young age. It makes me sad knowing that I can’t be myself in an academic setting because whiteness and being white is held up as the standard of being professional.