“Family is the foundation for the individual,” says Rozalyn Vickery, as she considers the profound impact family has had on her personal and professional paths.
As the mother of two and a fourth-year Psychology student, Rozalyn’s interest in psychology began 17 years ago when she first came to RDC after high school. Then, after taking a break to start her own family, Rozalyn returned to the College to pursue the field that remained her passion.
“I originally thought I would specialize in child psychology, and I liked my courses, but I just didn’t feel the click that I had expected,” she says. “Then, I took a course on Alzheimer’s and Related Dementia, and it was like lightning struck – I felt so connected to this area.”
Her connection to the topic was linked, in part, to her love of her grandmother, who had a powerful impact on shaping Rozalyn’s life and view of the world. “She was an incredible woman who started teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. She had such a wonderful perspective about how we think about the world and how we interact with others, and she was always sharing it with me,” says Rozalyn.
Integrating these teachings from her family with her coursework, Rozalyn started to work in a student position with the Early Onset Dementia Alberta Foundation – through a community service learning assignment. “This experience really helped me to broaden my horizons and envision my path.”
Her path soon led to a major research project, one that spans her academic year and counts for credit for two 500-level courses. Her research study is looking into what family caregivers of people with early onset dementia are facing, and Rozalyn is thankful to be able to work under two of her instructors, Dr. Greg Wells and Dr. Jamie Prowse-Turner. “They gave me the topic and direction and then allowed me to design and conduct the research,” she says.
Through her project, Rozalyn has travelled all across Alberta to conduct in-person interviews with the caregivers of people with early onset dementia, and it’s given her another level of appreciation for the important impact that families have. “The health of a family impacts everyone, including the children,” she says. “When I think about my reason for doing this project, it’s not only for the person with dementia and the caregiver, but for their entire family and all those to come.”
With the research phase of her project now complete, Rozalyn is analyzing the data and preparing the final write-up, with the potential to present her work at the Agora Student Conference at RDC and at a student conference at the University of Calgary.
Looking to her future career, “I want to continue working for and supporting healthy families in any way I can. Whether that’s optimizing health care service and delivery or supporting families through schools or even counselling at an individual level,” she says. “As long as my career choices benefit my family, as well, I’ll know I am in the right place.”