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Thalia Markowski

885

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Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

I am a tenacious, creative, and empathetic learner. Through academics, leadership, and research I am constantly striving to glean wisdom from others by working passionately and efficiently. Before starting college, I worked for companies like The High Line in NYC, started a private tutoring and nannying business, taught after-school programs at inner-city public schools, and even partnered with famous New York cultural centers like the SHED. Currently, I am working on my degree in Psychology, minor in Religion, a Global Fellows certificate, and conducting research in the field of neurodiversity and disability education. In the 2023-2024 academic year I will be studying abroad in London.

Education

Pepperdine University

Bachelor's degree program
2022 - 2026
  • Majors:
    • Psychology, General

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

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

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Psychology, General
    • Clinical, Counseling and Applied Psychology
    • Research and Experimental Psychology
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Mental Health Care

    • Dream career goals:

      Clinical Child Psychologist

    • Teen Staff

      The High Line
      2020 – 20233 years

    Sports

    Kickboxing

    Club
    2022 – Present2 years

    Volleyball

    Club
    2021 – 20221 year

    Research

    • Research and Experimental Psychology

      Pepperdine University — Qualitative Coder and Co-Author
      2022 – Present

    Arts

    • The Clinton School

      Theatre
      The Addam's Family, 1776, Taming of the Shrew, Legally Blonde, Shrek the Musical
      2018 – 2022

    Public services

    • Advocacy

      Pepperdine University — Guest Speaker
      2022 – Present
    • Volunteering

      Big Apple Church — Food Organizer
      2018 – Present
    Laurette Scholarship
    Winner
    It seems a gross understatement to say that coping with my already intense anxiety during COVID was challenging. Piled on top of the virus, riots, and looting outside my Manhattan window, I was under the almost constant attack of overwhelming stress, manifesting in repetitive rocking and self-harmful movement, blurry vision, hallucinations, difficulty breathing, and crippling claustrophobia. In the amplified traumas of those eighteen months, I began to reflect on how I had always struggled with the same fundamental things. Social interactions, sensory sensitivities, hyper-focused interests, repetitive behavior, and a general obsession with structure and order were things that I had masked to be socially acceptable to the world. I began to ask my mother what I was like as a child, she recounted stories of my intense sensitivity, crying on the streets of NYC that “there was a needle in my sock” when it was a strand of hair. I was so deep in an ever-persistent pang of panic that I turned to reckless decisions to fill the void of my anxiety-filled emptiness. Looking for a way out of this abyss, I turned to research, and a possible diagnosis; ASD, or Autism Spectrum Disorder. I have always been obsessed with reading and doing research. Finding articles like, “Understanding the social experiences of adolescent females on the autism spectrum” or “Understanding and recognizing the female phenotype of autism spectrum disorder and the “camouflage hypothesis” fascinated me. I was drawn to this possibility of having an answer to why I was suffering so much. With the support of my parents, I sought a diagnosis. After a year of insurance issues and ignorant professionals, I was finally diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder, panic disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. With the support of family, friends, and doctors who cared, I finally had a guiding path towards recovering my mental health. Post-COVID has been an incredible time of growth in all aspects of my life. I have learned to understand how to be accommodating and patient with my limitations, while also celebrating my gifts and skills. In this past calendar year, I have had no panic attacks and minimal sensory overloads, and I am finally finding a way to be my authentic, unapologetic self. Beyond the growth in coping with difficulties, I have also found ways to celebrate my disability as a way to educate others. University has allowed me to educate myself through psychology classes, as well as educate others. As Pepperdine University celebrated Disability Awareness Week, I spoke on Neurodiversity 101 in front of fifty students and faculty. Speaking from experience and years of education, I taught many people basic language and myths about Neurodiversity that they were not aware of. A few weeks later, I received the good news that a paper I co-wrote, with our school's 2023 Valedictorian, was getting published in a well-respected journal. This paper was all about the negative effects of masking, or hiding autistic traits for appearing more socially acceptable in our neurotypical world. As I learned how to embrace my multi-faceted identity, I began to share the value of seeing my disability as a gift with others around me. This groundwork of research, advocacy, and education has led me to develop my dreams for a future career. I hope to serve my community of New York City as a child clinical psychologist for disabled and neurodivergent youth. I cannot wait to guide, teach, and support young students of color in urban areas, providing them with the same answers that changed my life.
    @ESPdaniella Disabled Degree Scholarship
    My major is Psychology, and my dream for many years has been to serve my community of New York City as a child clinical psychologist for disabled and neurodivergent youth. I hope to cater to young students of color in urban areas, as this was the basis of my story. Growing up in a bustling city I often reflected on how social interactions, sensory sensitivities, hyper-focused interests, repetitive behavior, and a general obsession with structure and order were things that I had masked to be socially acceptable to the world. Feeling outcast and different from those who processed seamlessly around me, I sought a diagnosis. At 17, being diagnosed as autistic helped me gain confidence in my identity, learn ways to cope with a world that wasn't made for me, and develop a deep desire to be an advocate for others in my position. With financial support and guidance from scholarships like these, I can embark on my higher education journey and inspire other young disabled women of color to seek support, build confidence, and continue the cycle of education and advocacy for disability studies.