Alumni Profile: Nadia Sayers
Youth Development Manager, Hope 4 Life NI
Nadia graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and is currently the Youth Development Manager for mental health early intervention charity Hope 4 Life NI, who work on designing and developing their innovative Uberheroes Programme, which delivers comic-book style early intervention workshops in schools throughout Northern Ireland.
Nadia has also raised awareness on the importance on early intervention education in suicide prevention on a global scale, on the Miss Universe stage, in international publications and media, as well as delivering key note speeches on the topic of mental health.
She since has gone on to achieve a MSc (Hons) Applied Psychology & Mental Health Therapies from Ulster University. She has completed several mental health and crisis support qualifications and is currently working toward achieving a micro-credential in ‘Teacher Development: Embedding Mental Health into The Curriculum’.
Why did you choose Psychology at Queens?
I was always a very curious child (my P1 teacher once called me ‘nosey’… but let’s go with curious), “But why?” was never too far from my mouth, trying to grasp the bigger picture.
Whilst trying to decide my next steps in school, I was introduced to the topic of Psychology and was drawn in immediately. I loved that you could be curious, and explore the ‘why?’ behind human behaviours and saw how it’s application could be valuable in any industry.
Coming from Tyrone, moving to the city to study always seemed like such massive opportunity to explore another way of life, so I thought I may as well apply and give it a shot…to my surprise I got in! And from that first day in Elms, I met some of my dearest friends.
How did you transition into your current career?
Psychology has always been an interest of mine, but it wasn’t until I experienced my own mental health struggles that it became my passion and purpose. I loved learning about different formulations, theories, and the newest research, but applying these lessons practically into our community, tying together the theoretical and practical in the real world, taking into consideration real-world challenges that exist, was something that I hadn’t experienced but craved.
Sidestep - While I was studying and starting to get back to myself after being unwell, I decided to enter a beauty pageant, thinking it might help my confidence. I quickly learned and realised that pageants were a fantastic way of building awareness around social issues in a non-traditional way – the glam caught the eye, but the voice and purpose kept the attention.
Knowing this, I wanted to use the spotlight to raise awareness for a mental health charity that was helping people to overcome the barriers to mental health support locally, this search taught me so much about the Community & Voluntary sector – I fell in love with it.
I fell in love with the genuine passion some organisations had for their clients, with the creativity in addressing genuine need, and found that my personal experiences and struggles, along with my Queen’s Psychology experience, came together in an empathetic and solution orientated way.
Mental health education is a basic need that should be accessible to all, I’ve made this my purpose through Hope 4 Life NI, Uberheroes, Miss Universe, as chair of West Wellbeing Forum, TEDx, Moxie Mentoring and each organisation and event I have worked with.
All these seemingly random and detached experiences have come together to embed mental health maintenance skill teaching into my every day.
What is the happiest memory of your time with us?
My time at Queens had so many wonderful memories, the traditional Strawberries and Bubbles on the Quad at graduation, the incredible lecturers we were able to learn from and the Elms experience. But the memory that will always bring a smile to my face are the morning walks from Elms to the David Keir Building with my classmate Claire, layered up in hoodies and scarfs, carrying too many books, laughing about the week we’ve had and talking about how the lessons play into what we want to do in the future.
What advice would you give yourself if you had a time machine back to level 1?
1. Go easy on yourself, making mistakes are a part of the learning
2. Stop leaving your assignments to the last week
3. Use the library! You’re going to really appreciate it in final year and wish you had utilised it earlier
4. Don’t panic about the road you’re going to go down, soak in everything you can, and trust that your knowledge, passion, and eagerness to continue learning will take you down the right path.