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Elizabeth Shearer

1175

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Bio

I'm a lifelong lover of learning who is fiercely passionate about creating a world where anyone can find healing. I spend much of my time working, reading, and playing with my pets. I'm taking graduate school semester by semester, hoping that I'll be able to afford to finish my counseling degree and pour back into my segregated, and trauma-stricken city. I appreciate every minute of consideration I'm given. Let's heal ourselves and our communities.

Education

Bradley University

Master's degree program
2023 - 2026
  • Majors:
    • Clinical, Counseling and Applied Psychology

Olivet Nazarene University

Bachelor's degree program
2018 - 2022
  • Majors:
    • English Language and Literature, General
  • Minors:
    • Drama/Theatre Arts and Stagecraft

Richwoods High School

High School
2014 - 2018

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:

    • Case Worker

      The Center for Prevention of Abuse
      2023 – Present1 year

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Meaningful Existence Scholarship
    I have spent much of my life waging war on the demons in my mind. My mother used to say that I was anxious in the womb, and my first memory is of being afraid of my shadow. As a young woman with a decade of therapy behind me, I can speak firsthand about the deeply healing effects of mental health therapy, however, my own story isn't the reason I'm chasing a counseling degree. When I was eleven years old my family moved from a small fishing town on the penninsula of Wisconsin to a city in central Illinois where nearly 1/3 of residents lived below the poverty line. This is a town that has a legacy of systemic poverty and generational trauma, and growing up amongst peers who had lived a life of instability it was impossible not to see the effects. My very first job placed me as a day camp counselor with children from the south side of Peoria where I came face to face with what a childhood of chronic stress and instability looks like. Although in many ways I was still a child myself, I used the tools I had learned through my own therapeutic experiences to create an environment that was stable, safe, and valued emotional regulation. As the summer progressed, child after child opened up to me their lives at home. Lives that were vibrant, beautiful, and riddled with trauma. It was impossible to not love these children and it was impossible to not see the need they had for mental health intervention. The more work that I do, the more I come face to face with my lack of education and training. The more time I spend with the children of my community, the more convinced I become that mental health therapy is the only track for me. Why am I passionate about a career in therapy? The foundation of my community depends on it. I've ended with portion of a poem that I wrote during my undergraduate studies. It is based upon the children I met during the four summers I worked at the camp I referenced above. I believe very deeply that mental health intervention is the only way to break the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse. The Eye of a Gun: You know, I’ve never held a brother in my arms as he died. But in the silence that follows a balloon popping, I smell my brother’s blood as it bakes on the highway. I see the red of the dust in the fingers of my children, and the blood pouring from the knees they dragged on the sidewalk. It is true that I have not seen death in the eye of a loaded gun. But I have seen it in the eyes of the children who play with my hair. In the eyes of boys who view sticks as weapons, When I always saw them as tools. I see it in the gravestones that keep popping up closer and closer and closer to my bedroom. I may not have looked into the eye of a loaded gun as it prophesied my future, But I have stuck my fingers into the holes that stay behind. I haven’t looked at hell through the eye of a gun. I’ve looked into the eyes of my people and seen it there. --How long will you forsake us? We can be a part of the solution if we choose to enter into the pain of our neighbots, and I for one, can't wait to get started.
    Mental Health Importance Scholarship
    Christmas carols crackled over the hospital radio and I shivered through my sweat-soaked scrubs. "Happy New Year" I whispered to myself. This wasn't how I had pictured my first Christmas break home from college. I had landed myself squarely in a psychiatric inpatient facility in Chicago thanks to an eating disorder that the doctors said might have killed me. I remember laying on that gray, rectangle of a mattress and looking ahead at the two paths in front of me. Which one was I going to choose? Although my eating disorder remains the most dangerous of my diagnoses, it wasn't my first experience grappling with the elusive idea of mental health. I've been blessed with a brain that notices things others miss, which means that I excelled in the writing classes I took for my undergraduate degree, but also means that on my family vacation last month, I noticed a jellyfish suffocating on the beach during our family beachside sunset walk. Needless to say, I spent much of my childhood feeling overwhelmed and unprepared. I learned firsthand the importance of mental health support during that first year of undergraduate. Which path was I going to choose? Ultimately, I decided that I don't want to live a life of survival: eating just enough to sustain life, or holding it together long enough to get through the day. I want to live a life that is vibrant and abundant. A life that allows me to see deeply, to feel deeply, and to love deeply. I have learned (and am still learning) that I have a brain that requires me to take things slowly. In order to function, I absolutely have to do things like get enough sleep, eat nutritious food, and schedule breaks into my day. I need time in quiet to process the things that I've seen, and in seasons where I neglect that I can feel my anxiety levels rising. I have a treatment team that includes an Eating Disorder Certified Registered Dietician, a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor, and a Psychiatrist, and I see them regularly to monitor and maintain my mental health status. Wellness is not something that comes naturally to me, it is something that I choose. I find that leaning on those around me for support is crucial for keeping me on track. I am slowly and gently learning to accept my brain for what it is. Mental health support has not only saved my life, but transformed it. In fact, my experiences with mental health healing have led me to a Master's program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and I am blessed to be a part of a program that teaches me more about healing every day--both teaching healing practices to myself and to those that I work with. I wish I could say that this is a movie-credits success story. That I wake up every day fully recovered from my eating disorder and entirely unafraid of the world and what it holds. Instead, I suppose this is a different kind of success story. It's a story about a girl who still struggles to eat all of her meals. A girl who still sometimes wakes up afraid. But it's also a story about a girl, who in spite of these things is not only surviving but living. It is about a girl who takes breaks, a girl who sets boundaries, and a girl, who I truly believe is going to be okay. Why is mental health important to me? It has taught me how to live.
    Share Your Poetry Scholarship
    "The Eye of A Gun" By: Elizabeth Anne Shearer A balloon pops down the hall and the classroom jumps in the silence that follows. My heart is a bird shaking in its cage, and my eyes fill with tears before my brain can start thinking. The people around me giggle with their faces contorting into stretched smiles and knowing looks. The faces of a people who in the silence after loud pops know without thinking that it is the aftermath of a birthday party. Not the anger of young people ricocheting down the halls. You know, I’ve never held a brother in my arms as he died. But in the silence that follows a balloon popping, I smell my brother’s blood as it bakes on the highway. I see the red of the dust in the fingers of my children, and the blood pouring from the knees they dragged on the sidewalk. It is true that I have not seen death in the eye of a loaded gun. But I have seen it in the eyes of the children who play with my hair. In the eyes of boys who view sticks as weapons, When I always saw them as tools. I see it in the tears of mothers whose sons aren’t looking, In the gravestones that keep popping up closer and closer and closer to my bedroom. I may not have looked into the eye of a loaded gun as it prophesied my future, But I have stuck my fingers into the holes that stay behind. I haven’t looked at hell through the eye of a gun. I’ve looked into the eyes of my people and seen it there. --How long will you forsake us?
    Growing with Gabby Scholarship
    I cocked my head to the side as I took in the reflection in my childhood mirror. I had the same eyes and the same mouth, the same halo of yellow frizz around my hair. But sitting, cross-legged in my childhood bedroom I found that I didn't recognize the person staring back at me. I looked at my blue eyes and realized--"Holy crap, I don't know anything." For as long as I can remember I've had to be the best in the room. I started reading when I was 3 years old and my mother often jokes that one of my first few words was "cornucopia". In high school, I threw myself headfirst into every opportunity that came my way. Often staying up late to perform in my multiple extracurriculars, and waking up early to finish my collegiate-level schoolwork. In college, I charged into my professor's office where I announced that I wanted to be the best student she'd ever worked with, and I was willing to do whatever it took to get there. I threw myself into my performances, my papers, and my jobs. I was driven. I was laser-focused. I was balancing academia, with three campus jobs, and running a writing center, all while maintaining a social life and experiencing flourishing mental health. I wouldn't have said that I knew everything there was to know, but I was certain that anything I didn't understand, I could figure out. If I looked into my childhood mirror a year ago, I would have seen a girl who was confident. Who was unafraid to say the things that needed to be said and who knew that no matter what challenges came her way, she would be able to handle them. Things have changed now. Don't get me wrong, I still have a tendency towards being outspoken, and I still have a drive in me that I can't quite explain. However, the Lizzie that looks back at me today has realized something that I believe to be crucial to a vibrant and evolving life-- a realization that I don't know everything. In fact, sometimes I feel like I don't know anything at all. And yet I'm learning that growing means leaning into that discomfort. Maybe growing means allowing myself to feel like a newcomer over, and over, and over again. I felt like an idiot on the first day of my "adult job" at Easter Seals--something I never allowed for myself in High School and College--and yet, because of my willingness to look like a fool, I'm now a Registered Behavior Technician who is trained (and certified) in Applied Behavior Analysis. I felt like an idiot walking into my first car dealership or paying my first medical bill online. I feel like an idiot now as I speak to my graduate school professors who know so incredibly much more than I do. What I have learned this year, is that in order to live the ever-evolving life I've admired since childhood, I have to be willing to be the least eloquent person in the room. Maybe it's time for me to stop pushing toward a finish line that doesn't exist, and start listening to those who've come before me. The biggest change I've experienced over the last year has been realizing that I don't have all the answers, and realizing that I don't need to. Maybe (just maybe), I can become who I'm supposed to be anyways.