Suchira Jani ('11) | Clinical Psychology

Suchira Jani

M.S. in Clinical Psychology, August 2011
B.S. in Psychology
M.S. in Counseling Psychology
Hometown: Mumbai, India

For Suchira Jani, psychology isn't just a major or a degree to hang on an office wall. It's a calling.

"My grandfather, who by far has been the biggest source of influence on my life, was a gold medalist in psychology. He saw in me some great qualities of empathy, compassion, curiosity, critical and deductive sense of reasoning that he brought to my parents' notice, and they agreed with him. To me, psychology was exciting," she said.

She took an undergraduate degree in psychology in her native country, India. Suchira also pursued a master's in counseling psychology. But when she wanted to work on a second master's, she began looking overseas. And she found ACU.

"My foremost requirement was a good, well-rounded program," she said. "ACU's psychology graduate program had a great syllabus/ curriculum that included statistics, cognitive and clinical assessment, ethics, research methodology, psychopathology, career counseling, intensive training in psychotherapy and practicum opportunity. It really nailed it for me."

A taste of West Texas

Moving from India to Texas involved some culture shock. But Suchira - Suchi to her friends - has learned to adapt to hot weather, small-town culture and ACU's unique atmosphere.

"I did not even pay attention to the fact that Abilene was such a tiny place until I landed here on a blazing hot Friday afternoon in August 2009. But I was quick to notice that Abilene is a very tiny place - and very cheap, which is great since a lot of my friends and I were able to lead fairly royal lives. The inhabitants of Abilene were warm, affectionate, helpful and cordial. The atmosphere at ACU itself was that of a loving extended family. It breaks my heart to leave Abilene, because this place surely grows on you," she said.

Being an international student hasn't hindered her at ACU, she says. In fact, she feels that she's grown from the experience of interacting with another faith tradition and another culture.

"I believe that my ACU experience would make me proudly remember and call ACU my alma mater. As an international student I was well-received with open arms by my department, and I would like to continue my association with the department in the future. The fact that every faculty member and office head as well as my cohorts know me by my first name and vice versa is symbolic of a rich department culture," she said.

Value of a faith-based education

As a Hindu, Suchira's faith experience has been different than that of many ACU students, but she has embraced the opportunity to explore and interact with ACU's rich heritage of faith-based education.

"Being in a faith-based institution has only brought more peace and tranquility to my evolvement as an individual. As a student of psychology, I believe one must be rounded and exposed in all aspects of human existence and since faith is at the apex of it all, I believe ACU broadened my horizons and exposed me to different flavors of faith and how to deal with that in a therapeutic setting," she said.

After more than two years at ACU in the psychology graduate program, Suchira finds herself changed by her surroundings, by the people with whom she interacts daily and by the education she has received. But she's also gained something else: a group of colleagues and friends whom she can never forget.

"I chose this university because I believed they had a great program that encompassed training in assessment, counseling, research, as well as some great hands-on practical experience. Now, two years and four semesters later, I can confidently say that the program has surpassed my expectations. Not only do I feel competent to get out in the community fully armed, but I have found in the form of the faculty and my cohorts a family and home away from home. The faculty is affectionate, helpful, passionate about the profession, experienced, grounded and motivating at all times," she said. "I am thoroughly satisfied."

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