By Aaron Tooyak
Dovetailing APU’s recent recognition as Best Masters in Psychology at a small university, Sonny Minhas (’15) was among our recent Masters of Counseling Psychology (MSCP) graduates. Sonny obtained is Bachelors in Psychology from UAA in 2009. Afterwards, he accrued four years of experience with the Volunteers of America, Alaska at the Adolescent Residential Center for Help (ARCH). Now, Sonny is the Navigator, Counselor at the Alaska Youth and Family Network (AYFN).
APU, as a private university, has an upper hand towards our larger counterparts, “I enjoyed the smallness of the cohort. We received generous amounts of one on one support, and formed close bonds with the people we worked with”.
Sonny’s graduate project, on friendship and dating, influenced the creation of a new program focused on Severely Emotionally Disturbed Youth (SED). His research has been implemented into UAA’s new SED focused group, that is within their Friendship and Dating program.
Moreover, his literature review is directly cited into the training manual of the new program, “I am running the group with the youth at AYFN after being formally trained with the curriculum I helped establish. I’m collecting data once again, this time as an actual facilitator, not as a researcher. I’m literally putting my work into practice”. Sonny attributed much of his support and success to Renee Georg, “her help was why my project was able to be as good as it was”.
The MSCP program opened up more opportunities for Sonny as he secured an internship with the McLaughlin Youth Center (MYC) that expanded his network, “the internship gave me a deeper perspective on how the work I’m doing affects others on another level”.
Sonny expressed the significance of an engaging education as we discussed the importance of funding a private university, “APU is worth donating to because of their emphasis on practical skills and application rather than an undivided attention on textbooks. There is an extraordinary emphasis on human interaction and active learning here that is worthy of being funded by the community”.