Interview with Patric Plesa, 2013 Student Grant winner
1. So Patrick, tell us a bit about you. Why did you choose psychology?
I have been passionate about philosophy since I was 18 and when I applied to university I thought that there would be no more exciting work to be done in philosophy, so I chose psychology because it continues the work of philosophy scientifically. I was fascinated with human behaviour but not the reductionistic methodology employed in experimental and cognitive psychology so when I applied to graduate school I wanted something that combined philosophy with psychology, and I found the History and Theory of Psychology program at York. I am currently working on my Master’s thesis that translates the work of Arthur Schopenhauer for psychology; however, for my Doctoral thesis I intend to write one of the first accounts of the history of Romanian psychology.
2. How do you plan to use your studies to achieve your future career plans?
Next year when I begin my PhD I will be working on the history of Romanian psychology and will need to travel to Romania to research the archival material, as there is not much else available in that body of knowledge. Once in Romania I would like to establish relations with some Universities there so that I can potentially seek employment once I graduate as a Professor teaching courses in English and Romanian, possibly also in German.
3. What do you hope to do after you graduate?
After I graduate I plan on finding a Professorship in Romania to teach psychology and to establish more communication between North American Universities and Romanian ones. I would like to begin this process now in order to initiate exchange programs for students, international research collaborations, and cultural exchanges of knowledge in the field of psychology. The American Psychological Association has put forth an initiative to internationalize psychology and I believe the cultural psychology in Romania is a valuable resource toward this realization as it can offer unique accounts of political oppression on academic research, historical ties to the world’s first psychology laboratory in Germany, and an interesting stream of contemporary social psychology research.
4. How did the ORCA Student Grant help you achieve your academic goals?
For graduate students, fifty percent of the financial aid they require comes from bursaries, grants, and scholarships so there is a competitive culture in attempting to obtain funding for one’s research. The ORCA student grant has offered me some financial relief but more so it has offered me hope and community support in my research topic. Knowing that others value the kind of research I am doing means that the history of Romanian psychology is an important contribution that is sought by the community. When spending countless hours studying a subject that interests you, you begin to question whether you have become too subjective and cocooned to gain an objective perspective on the matter. It is refreshing when organizations and communities offer you assistance, support, and recognition for your labour so that you realize that your desire to contribute to the community is welcomed.
5. What do you do for fun, when you are not studying?
As most of the members of ORCA Youth know by now I love to bike and run, both as forms of exercise and recreation. Additionally I love to read, write, and watch films. I enjoy snowboarding, talking, and spending time with friends. One of my passions is writing fiction and it is something I intend on preserving alongside my academic career. Thus far I have published one book called ‘Boethius the Sufferer’ and it is available to download for free on iBookstore for your apple products or you can find it on lulu.com.
6. I know you were part of the ORCA Youth Team at Pedala pe ORCA Youth – Tour de Mississauga. How did you feel being part of such an enthusiastic group?
It is heart-warming to see a group of young Romanians putting forth effort to create a sense of community especially with the stereotype Romanians have in diaspora as disbanded, unorganized, and self-interested. Hopefully the young generation can effectively terminate this stigma through these kinds of initiatives. I have enjoyed the activities I have been able to attend with ORCA Youth and hope to partake in more in the future. Unfortunately I am frequently busy and live relatively far from most of the Toronto event locations. Nevertheless, I want to be part of this group because I believe their contributions are beneficial toward preserving a sense of Romanian cultural identity and the people involved are very determined.
7. Given the fact that you are the winner this year, can you share with us how you found the application process for the ORCA Student Grant?
Having applied to multiple grants throughout my University career I can say with confidence that the ORCA Student Grand application process was very easy. The instructions were clear, the application was not too demanding, and the criteria were fairly relaxed.
8. What would you recommend for those interested in applying next year?
You will have to compete with me so watch out! My advice is to take the essay question seriously and, like in an interview, show your best qualities and highlight what you can offer and contribute that is unique from everyone else. Most people, I believe, make the mistake of being too idealistic and romantic with essay questions like “What does your Romanian heritage mean to you”, focusing too much on narratives, emotions, and subjective interests. I took the opportunity to offer something back, not as a trick to win the competition but as a genuine desire to make a contribution to my culture through my academic research.
9. Is there anything else you would like to add?
If there are any people interested in, or who have some contacts and information about establishing an exchange between Romanian and Canadian Universities I would love to know about it. Feel free to contact me if you have ideas, know of existing organizations, or want to be part of an initiative to start this kind of organization: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interview by: Ana-Maria Macarie