As an incoming freshman at the University of New Mexico, Amelia Rose Teicher assumed her career path would include pursuing math, but her life took a different turn.
Teicher knew she had many interests and confidence in her ability to thrive in many different fields of study.
Teicher, now 29, is graduating from UNM with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
During her time in college, Teicher experienced hard times trying to manage school while suffering from an eating disorder and depression.
“10 years to get an undergrad degree is not a failure, but a triumph, that mirrors the similar resilience and persistence that has kept me alive,” Teicher said.
Her health issues were challenging to overcome, but that did not take away from her love for learning.
“There (is) always a place for miracles, for hope and for dreams…even if I fall asleep in tears — I have come to be grateful for each and every moment, because even the hardest of times can often teach us a lot if we let it,” Teicher said. “And I simply put my hand to my heart with such gratitude.”
Teicher was in and out of the hospital the past several years, which caused her to take some semesters off and cut back on her class load, extending her stay in college.
“Having faced mortality, I think there’s always some things we can control and some things we can’t,” Teicher said. “We can always hope and dream — and I will always hope and dream.”
She also changed her major several times. Her journey took her from math, to theater, to English and finally to psychology, which required some retracing of Teicher’s steps to get her on the correct path for earning a degree.
This seemed to be a setback at first, but Teicher said she realized that this was a blessing in disguise.
She said she realized her many talents in various subjects and wanted to fulfill her desire to learn from different fields of study, given her ability.
“Finally I can trust myself when for so long, for so very long, for too long, I thought I was the crazy one,” Teicher said. “I often felt I was a failure and could never do enough, especially in regards to recovering from the eating disorder.”
In taking time to pursue her degree, Teicher also was able to find a specific passion that helped her get through the hardest time.
“Shakespeare saved my life,” Teicher said. “I felt understood in a way I hadn’t before, and in fact, inspired, discovering that fighting was detrimental.”
She said studying Shakespeare helped her find a way to express herself through poetry. Teicher found that she was able to connect with Shakespeare’s writing and his creation of characters in a way she had not thought was possible.
“It’s never just one thing that may trigger mental illness within ourselves,” she said. “When faced with a culmination of many contexts both internal like a genetic predisposition, for example, while becoming faced with fear and loneliness and feeling lost…while avoiding emotion at all costs and letting my body be the beating ground, the focus for my failures.”
Along the way, Teicher said she recognized how valuable listening to her own intuition is in knowing what is best for her.
Teicher has used her intuition to keep herself going through all hardships, and in turn, this realization has helped her accept the hardships as they have come and gone and work past them.
“By saying, ‘Well, right now I’m not (on time), but I’m going for this because I’m smart, and it excites me,’ helps me,” Teicher said. “Even if I’m in pain, it allows me to sit back and say, ‘Wow, I have a lot more insight than I thought.’”
Teicher said the advice she would give undergraduates still working toward their degree and struggling with their own internal battles would be that it is okay to take your time. She said students should always ask questions, go to office hours, keep learning and should not be afraid to ask for help along the way.
“Be open, let life be a learning experience,” she said. “You don’t have to let your past define you or anything but what you choose. There’s things you don’t have control over, and you’ll have to accept that eventually, and it’s okay. Every feeling has importance, and every moment does too.”
Teicher is passionate about many different fields of study and hopes to continue to pursue all studies that intrigue her. She said she hopes to continue on to graduate school and perhaps eventually pursue a degree in medicine.
“I’ve learned that you can try different things and see what fits, and that’s where intuition comes in,” Teicher said. “If you’re not sure if what you’re studying fits, try something else. See what brings excitement to you. If school isn’t for you, that is okay — you can always go back.”
Rebecca Brusseau is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers the LGBTQ community. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @r_brusseau.