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Elise Davidson

515

Bold Points

1x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

My life goal is to create the best life and future for my son and our community by working hard in collaboration with other passionate professionals and community members to pioneer new forward movement in the field of mental health in Alaska. After having spent the past 8+ years working with a primarily Indigenous/Alaska Native population I have become inspired to further my education to one day become a licensed mental health counselor, so that I can impact more people and work to create more sustainable outcomes for people across Alaska including remote, rural communities through culturally relevant and accessible mental health resources.

Education

Saybrook University

Master's degree program
2024 - 2028
  • Majors:
    • Clinical, Counseling and Applied Psychology

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Mental Health Care

    • Dream career goals:

    • Program Coordinator for Youth Residential Treatment Services

      Youth Advocates of Sitka
      2019 – 20223 years
    • Program Manager & Coalition Coordinator - Community Substance Misuse Prevention

      Sitka Counseling & Prevention
      2022 – 20242 years
    • Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program - Case Manager

      Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
      2024 – Present7 months

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Entrepreneurship

    Jennifer Gephart Memorial Working Mothers Scholarship
    My eight month old son has changed my life and inspired me to pursue higher education for the purpose of furthering my career, creating a better life for our family, and showing him that nothing can get in the way of your dreams and aspirations. When I gave birth to Cade Trausti Kitka on September 10th of 2023 at 5:56am, it changed my life forever and lit a fire within me to finally pursue a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. I was already incredibly passionate about mental health, and have spent the past eight and a half years working in the field of mental/behavioral health in Southeast Alaska with a primarily Indigenous/Alaska Native youth population. For the past few years I have contemplated going back to school to take the next step in furthering my career and my ability to better serve youth and families in Alaska, but nothing has motivated me quite as much as giving birth to my son. The day I looked in his eyes, it solidified my purpose of doing my part to contribute to healthier families and communities in Alaska—a healthier world for him to live in. Taking on higher education while balancing the experience of new motherhood and also starting a new full time job as a Case Manager for an adult substance use disorder treatment program is a massive undertaking, and in a way at first I was nervous to take it all on simultaneously while contemplating the decision to go back to school. The biggest thing I was afraid of was taking away from precious time with my son, who needs me more than ever at this crucial stage of his development. However, upon further reflection and strategizing I feel confident that by implementing the proper schedules and being very organized and efficient with my use of time and energy, I can use this time to be fully present with Cade when I’m with him, while embarking on a career and education journey that will ultimately create a more solid foundation for our life and our home. Balancing work and caregiving with my education is something that I know will be very challenging, but worth the effort and in the end I know this will be extremely character-building for me and will set a positive example for Cade that we can do anything we put our minds to, when motivated by the right things in life. I want to show Cade that anything worth having in life requires hard work, planning, dedication, and follow-through. I want him to grow up in a home where the role models around him are actively pursuing their goals and striving to find balance in all that we do, including incorporating time for self-care, family time, and fun. Finally, I believe that my education in mental health counseling will only further my ability to respond to Cade at each phase of his development with knowledge, preparation and purposefulness. The work I am doing in our community is something I know Cade can look up to and feel proud of, and I can’t wait to share my passion for helping others with him as he grows older. The financial struggles we will face as I take out student loans and stretch my paychecks to cover living expenses, childcare expenses, and school expenses are a small price to pay for the future we will build. Thank you so much for considering me as a recipient of this scholarship. I would be honoured and humbled to be considered.
    ADHDAdvisor's Mental Health Advocate Scholarship
    When I left home at fifteen years old to escape a dysfunctional home life and dropped out of high school to work full-time at a grocery store, I never imagined I would ever get an opportunity for higher education or be able to build a career. Eventually, with the support and influence of a couple of key mentors in my life at the time, I was able to get on a better path. I eventually got my GED and took steps to get into college. From that time I was determined to pursue a path that would allow me to learn the skills to help other youth and families in a similar situation. Since graduating from Humber College back in Canada in 2015 with a bachelors degree in Child and Youth Care, I have spent the past eight plus years gaining practical experience working in the fields of mental, behavioral and community health with primarily Indigenous populations in Southeast Alaska. I began working for a program for at-risk youth called Alaska Crossings, facilitating wilderness programming involving extended canoe expeditions in the backcountry of the Tongass National Forest. I then proceeded to work for a youth substance use disorder treatment program called Raven's Way, which incorporated some wilderness therapy and some residential/inpatient programming. After that, I had the opportunity to work as a Program Coordinator for youth residential behavioral health services with the Youth Advocates of Sitka for about four years. This was an incredibly impactful experience for me, and motivated me to pursue further education to learn about how to better serve this population. Upon graduating from the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, I intend to utilize my knowledge and skills to continue serving individuals, families and communities in Alaska to work collaboratively and therapeutically with people to discover themselves as powerful change agents in their own lives. I am interested in working as a clinician in programs that utilize a holistic and culturally relevant approach to wellness, and then hopefully starting my own practice one day to offer an integrative and culturally relevant avenue for people to explore healing and empowerment for themselves and their communities. My goal is to enhance accessibility of mental health services for individuals and families across Alaska, by networking and strategizing with remote and rural communities to address gaps in service provision, accessibility, and cultural relevance for Alaskan families.
    Mental Health Scholarship for Women
    Winner
    Throughout my life, I have learned that in order to maintain a state of mental wellness, it is really important for me to take care of all aspects of myself, including my mind, body and spirit. For me this is done through a rigorous practice of self-care, which is mindfully incorporated on a daily basis by scheduling in time for "the little things" such as walks, taking time by myself, and getting comfortable with saying "no" to certain social obligations or other obligations that would be putting too much on my plate all at once. I take time each morning in the wee hours of dawn, before everyone else wakes up, to sit with a cup of hot coffee in silence and focus on grounding myself and getting into my body. After a few moments of this quiet time, I pull up my calendar and make notes of anything specific I might be looking forward to or needing to get done, and sometimes I create checklists to ensure I have the tools I need to be successful. This, for me, embodies a self-care practice and affects my mental health considerably because it helps me not to feel thrusted into a day that I don't feel mentally prepared for. When I learned how to begin prioritizing my mental health by getting outside for regular walks in nature with my dog, speaking with a mental health counselor on a semi-regular basis, practicing yoga and fueling my mind and body with healthy food, and being in relationships with people who have a positive impact in my life, I have seen that I am able to take on many challenges and experience success in the workplace, in academics, as well as in my home life and social life. I am also able to be a better parent to my seven-and-a-half month old son who needs me to show up as my best self in order to take good care of him. I want to show him with the way I live my life that it is possible to live a healthy and joyous life, and that doing so will put him in a position to accomplish any goals and navigate any challenges that come up for him. As a woman who is currently working toward obtaining a masters degree in clinical mental health counseling, I have a deep understanding of the necessity of prioritizing mental health not only because it is the subject I am studying, but because my entire life has led me to this juncture at which prioritizing not only my own mental health but also encouraging and impacting those around me in a way that positively affects their mental health has become my primary goal in life. As someone who struggled with mental health in adolescence and was able to overcome significant obstacles to get to where I am today, I have a deep appreciation for the role of mental health in my life and I am so excited for the opportunity to share my passion for mental health with my community and positively impact others' lives as a licensed mental health counselor. If it wasn't for the struggles I faced in my youth, and the mental health resources I had access to that helped me grow as a person, I wouldn't be where I am today and I am so grateful that I have learned how to make my mental health the number one priority no matter what life throws at me. Thank you for considering me as a potential recipient of this scholarship, to help me reach my goals.
    Mental Health Importance Scholarship
    Throughout my life I have come to appreciate that mental health permeates every facet of my life. At times when I have failed to prioritize my mental health I have seen the negative impact it can have on work, school, relationships, and even on the community I am a part of. As an adolescent, I struggled with my mental health. During my teenage years, I spent long periods of time away from the care of my parents, going down a potentially very troubling path with drugs and alcohol to cope with challenges in my family and my home environment. Both my parents struggled with mental health disorders when I was growing up, and it was extremely impactful on my personal development and my ability to do well in school as a young person. When I left home at fifteen years old to escape a dysfunctional home life and dropped out of high school to work full-time at a grocery store, I never imagined I would ever get an opportunity for higher education or be able to build a career. I became an expert on navigating social barriers and resources at a young age, and became very resilient. With the unconditional care and support of a couple of key individuals who worked in the social and community health sector, I was able to get on a healthier path and it was largely the impact of those mentors in my life that inspired me to get sober and choose wellness for myself. I eventually got my GED and took steps to get into college. That was the beginning of a long journey of learning how to prioritize my own wellbeing, and now it is not something that I ever take for granted. When I learned how to begin prioritizing my mental health by getting outside for regular walks in nature with my dog, speaking with a mental health counselor on a semi-regular basis, practicing yoga and fueling my mind and body with healthy food, and being in relationships with people who have a positive impact in my life, I have seen that I am able to take on many challenges and experience success in the workplace, in academics, as well as in my home life and social life. I am also able to be a better parent to my seven-and-a-half month old son who needs me to show up as my best self in order to take good care of him. I want to show him with the way I live my life that it is possible to live a healthy and joyous life, and that doing so will put him in a position to accomplish any goals and navigate any challenges that come up for him. I have learned that in order to maintain a state of mental wellness, it is really important for me to take care of all aspects of myself, including my mind, body and spirit. For me this is done through a rigorous practice of self-care, which is mindfully incorporated on a daily basis by scheduling in time for "the little things" such as walks, taking time by myself, and getting comfortable with saying "no" to certain social obligations or other obligations that would be putting too much on my plate all at once. I take time each morning in the wee hours of dawn, before everyone else wakes up, to sit with a cup of hot coffee in silence and focus on grounding myself and getting into my body. This, for me, embodies a self-care practice. I know by maintaining this practice I can achieve anything.
    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    From a young age, I knew I wanted to eventually train for a career in health and wellness, to serve my community and support those on a journey of personal healing and wellbeing. This was fueled partially by my core values and the things I cared about even as a child–the wellbeing of those around me–and then amplified by my adverse life experiences later on in my youth when I spent years away from the care of my parents, going down a potentially very troubling path with drugs and alcohol to cope with challenges in my family and my home environment. Both my parents struggled with mental health disorders when I was growing up, and it was extremely impactful on my personal development and my ability to do well in school as a young person. When I left home at fifteen years old to escape a dysfunctional home life and dropped out of high school to work full-time at a grocery store, I never imagined I would ever get an opportunity for higher education or be able to build a career. I became an expert on navigating social barriers and resources at a young age, and became very resilient. With the unconditional care and support of a couple of key individuals who worked in the social and community health sector, I was able to get on a healthier path and it was largely the impact of those mentors in my life that inspired me to choose wellness for myself. I eventually got sober, got my GED and took steps to get into college. Getting access to higher education was a privilege I thought I would never be able to experience, and from that time I was determined to pursue a path that would allow me to learn the skills to help other youth and families in a similar situation. For as long as I can remember, even through all my adverse experiences as a young person, I have had a strong sense of inner knowing that in order for me to truly make meaning of the answer to that question I must first understand how it is that I am impacting the world around me. And, for the better part of my adult life, I have been searching for ways to affect my environment in a positive way. Whether that drive stems from my personal life experiences, my childhood trauma, witnessing those closest to me struggle with their mental health, my own journey through mental health and deepening commitment to personal wellness, the witnessing of so many young people with such powerful stories of resilience and the overcoming of incredible obstacles, or the witnessing of structurally oppressive mechanisms which continue presenting massive barriers to the healing and thriving of people and communities and a deep sense of conviction and duty to cultivate new ways to rupture these toxic oppressive mechanisms and strategize for change… human rights and social, racial, economic, and environmental justice and equity are the issues which drive my will to continue learning and continue expanding past the limitations that our current society presents. While I have known since undergoing undergraduate studies at Humber College back in Canada in 2011 that I wanted to eventually pursue a master’s degree in mental health counseling, my now eight plus years of practical experience working in the fields of mental, behavioral and community health with primarily Indigenous populations in Southeast Alaska has motivated me to pursue the kind of education that prioritizes cultural considerations of wellness, and values culturally relevant care as I have seen firsthand the impact of this approach when working with people. I feel strongly that my earlier experiences as a young person who wrestled with adverse experiences and trauma and was able to navigate those with the right support to become more resilient and more capable than I could have ever imagined, has made me a very dedicated professional who is committed to a humble, passionate, empathetic and respectful approach to working with people. In addition to being intrinsically motivated to excel in a clinical mental health career due to those personal life experiences, my education and work experience in a therapeutic setting working collaboratively with clinical teams has strengthened my skills and abilities in this area. Upon graduating from the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, I intend to utilize my knowledge and skills to continue serving individuals, families and communities in Alaska in the best way that I can, and to work collaboratively and therapeutically with people to discover themselves as powerful change agents in their own lives. I am interested in working as a clinician in programs that utilize a holistic and culturally relevant approach to wellness, and then hopefully starting my own practice one day whether on my own or in collaboration with a team of other wellness professionals to offer an integrative and culturally relevant avenue for people to explore healing and empowerment for themselves and their communities. An important goal I have for the future is to enhance accessibility of mental health services for individuals and families across Alaska, by networking and strategizing with remote and rural communities to address gaps in service provision, accessibility, and cultural relevance for Alaskan families. I also hope to create a better life for my son by modeling a healthy lifestyle and a dedicated career in which I am positively contributing to our community. Cade Trausti Kitka is seven-and-a-half months old and he is the light of my world and my biggest inspiration. I would be humbled and honored to be considered as a possible recipient for this award.