Meet the Courage Scholars (Jesica Zablah)

Courage Scholarship / Post Traumatic Growth / Professional Research / Violence

This guest entry is from Jesica Zablah, a PPG Courage Scholar for Violence and Post Traumatic Growth. Jesica is a Mexican psychologist and works in human resources. She is passionate about organisational and health psychology, and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Mental Health. She enjoys hiking, boxing, parachuting, and almost any sports activity in water!

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How did your journey in Positive Psychology begin?

It began at college, thanks to a wonderful teacher.

When and where did it start?

It started at college. It was 2015. I took a class in positive psychology where I learned the basics and I loved it. It marked the way I saw everything. I was always looking forward to that class because I always left with a different perspective of my problems. This helped me to analyse different ways to solve them or to go through them.

What were you doing at the time?

I was studying and working, so it really helped me on a daily basis with my work and school problems. My personal life was a disaster at the time. My family was collapsing through a rough divorce and I was also trying to leave a toxic relationship.

Why did Positive Psychology interest you?

I believe that everyone wants to be happy, and everyone is looking for happiness in their own way. Some people think that money will give them happiness, others think they’ll find it in a family, a couple, power, etc.

Most of the time we do not realise that happiness is inside us. We give the outside situations way too much weight. We are constantly being affected by the outside situations when we are the ones that have the power to decide how we want to feel.

The moment I realised that happiness is inside me and that no matter what happens outside, only I can decide how happy I wanted to be, in that moment everything changed. As a health psychologist in a hospital, I want to spread the word and give my treatments and interventions this focus.

What have you learned since?

As I mentioned, I learned that happiness is not found somewhere else. It is something that comes from inside you, your gratitude to the world, your self love and perception, and feeling you are contributing or helping in your community. You have the power and control to change your life and start living it differently.

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Why did you apply for the Courage Scholarship?

I applied because I really want to study and get all the tools I need in order to become a positive psychology professional. I do not have the economic resources to pay it on my own.

What were you doing at the time?

I was working in a startup when the idea came, then I lost my job due to Covid-19. Those were tough days but I was convinced that something better was coming and it did. I got another job where I get to help people and I got this amazing opportunity to keep learning and preparing myself to give the best of me to my community.

How did you think/hope it might be helpful?

I am convinced that this opportunity will help me become a more complete psychologist. I know that I want to work with vulnerable people, so if I get to change their lives through my interventions with positive psychology it would be simply the best and I would feel fulfilled. I think my mission on this earth is to help the forgotten and the vulnerable, and I know this positive focus will change their lives as much as it changed mine.

Where did you think/hope the scholarship may lead you?

To have a successful career, I know that if I get to learn as much as I want, I will have all the necessary tools to help the ones that I want. I want this opportunity to help me meet new people with the same desire to help. I want to become part of a community of people that are trying to help other everyday; a community of positive people who enrich not only my knowledge but also who I am as a person and my perspectives.

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Why and how does strengthening Positive Psychology research on Violence & Post Traumatic Growth interest you?

Academically…

I want to understand everything I can about people affected by violence and how this type of situation affects them. I know I have a lot of knowledge from personal experiences but I know there is a lot more to understand. I am amazed by the human mind and how it works. I want to understand how it adapts to keep going after violence. I also want to learn which are the best support strategies and understand which is the best way to treat and work with these people in order to have a more successful outcome.

Professionally…

I’d like to become a complete therapist with a background in violence and post traumatic growth with a positive focus. As I mentioned before, in my country (Mexico), we do not have a lot of research in treating hospital patients with psychotherapy. We also do not have the basis and the required preparation in the positive psychology field. A lot of therapists do not believe in this field so we have a long way to go. I want to be a pioneer and prove that positive interventions are effective in terms of engaging patients with their treatments and also helping them to overcome what they live daily inside the hospital. For example, all the medical tests that they have to take, being away from their families, and the uncertainty of their disease.Not everyone is ready to face such experiences, and nobody prepares you for these types of situations.

Personally…

I’m convinced that this scholarship program will help me like that class back in 2005 helped me to overcome my parents’ divorce. I’m ready for what is coming. Learning feeds my soul and especially when I can apply this knowledge in my daily life and also use it to help my community. I’m really looking forward to giving back to my community, family, friends, and Mexicans, and everything they gave me in order to become the person that I am today.

All my experiences, the good ones and the bad ones, led me to this point of my life and my career and I couldn’t be more grateful.

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What are you most looking forward to on the scholarship?

I’m really looking forward to applying my knowledge and starting to do little things that can change my community. The research project will help me with this type of small approach with my community. The first step to help is understanding the other. My research will help me to accomplish this. Then I will be able to put all this knowledge into practice by coaching and practicing in order to at last teach others how to help themselves, which is the best way to move forwards.

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The Courage Scholarship for Violence and Post Traumatic Growth is funded by the PPG Scholarship Fund as a priority research area. Four positions were awarded for the period, 2020-2022. The four Courage Scholars are each tasked with researching the relevance and possibilities for application of Positive Psychology to post-traumatic growth in situations of violence, conflict, and crime.