In the crush of grad school-related emails, Sydney Morales happened to notice a note from one of her professors.
She said Sydney qualified for Pearson’s Minority Scholarship Award – and urged her to apply.
The scholarship, established in 1995 by the National Association of School Psychologists Education and Research Trust, Inc. (NASP-ERT), recognizes minority students pursuing careers in school psychology.
“I had no idea what to expect, but I decided to go for it,” Sydney says.
A few months later, a phone call came.
Sydney learned she was one of the five NASP-ERT scholarship recipients; specifically, the Pearson Minority Scholarship.
“I was speechless,” Sydney says. “It’s an honor to be recognized.”
An Influential Class
Sydney is pursuing her Education Specialist degree at the University of Delaware.
She wants to work as a school psychologist—but it wasn’t always the career path she had in mind.
“When I was in high school, I wanted to become a teacher,” Sydney says.
Then … she took AP Psychology.
“I was blown away with excitement,” Sydney says. “It’s a field with so much room for exploration.”
Sydney knew she had found her calling, but, with so many psychology specialties to choose from, she wasn’t sure which was the best fit.
A family friend helped her get on the right path.
“A friend of my mom’s is a school counselor,” Sydney says, “And she told my mom how the job works.”
Advocating for students.
Working with parents and teachers.
Addressing challenging problems from different angles.
As Sydney listened to her mother explain the job, she realized it was the perfect fit.
“It was a good balance of my love for the school setting and the passion I had discovered for psychology,” Sydney says.
Bridging Competence and Confidence
After high school, Sydney enrolled in the psychology program at the University of Virginia, where she had the opportunity to work with students for the first time.
“I was an academic intern – and, eventually, a classroom aid – at a nearby therapeutic boarding school for boys,” Sydney says.
It was challenging work.
“At the time, I felt competent but not confident,” Sydney says.
After graduating from UVA, Sydney went on to grad school at the University of Delaware.
There, thoughtful professors mentored her as she learned to put her knowledge into practice.
“My professors encouraged me not to get too comfortable – to take on hard cases and to push myself beyond the bare minimum,” she says.
“It helped me build the confidence and skills I needed to effectively serve students,” she says.
Support for the Next Big Step
This May – after years of hard work that began at UVA – Sydney will earn her graduate degree.
Sydney says she’s excited to get to work.
“School psychology is an opportunity to make a huge difference,” Sydney says.
“It’s my role to help students discover their abilities – and to support those who feel they have lost their own strength,” she says.
Her NASP scholarship award will also help with financial support as she begins her career.
“The program lowers barriers to training and highlights the accomplishments of promising future professionals,” says Cheryl McDougald, a Vice President of Global Product Management at Pearson.
Dignity for All
Of the many lessons learned along her journey, Sydney says one stands out above the rest: respecting the dignity of all people.
“Many groups of people are still ostracized in education,” Sydney says.
“We need to do more to improve school culture—from welcoming parents with language barriers to supporting students with special needs,” she says.
Sydney says one of her priorities as a school psychologist is to help make education accessible to every person who walks through the school doors.
“School is a place to take risks safely,” Sydney says.
“Everyone deserves to have a voice.”