Hello!For five years after graduating college with a BA in Theatre Arts, I worked as a costume designer in Lexington, KY, California, and Philadelphia. I concentrated heavily on children's plays and theatre education. As a youth, art and theatre were a source of confidence and expression for me. I loved the chance to share my love of theatre with kids and to see them gain confidence through performing and creating. Whether I took on a student as a "Costume Assistant" or merely encouraged them to stand up straight and be proud of their voice, my work enforced my belief that the arts are deeply powerful to the development of a child's confidence. While in Philadelphia, I became organized with Philadelphia Young Playwrights and Theatre Horizon. These organizations design and run programs to teach children and young adults about playwriting and acting. I was chosen to instruct two courses of playwriting and creative storytelling for young adults and teens on the Autism Spectrum. I have several friends on the spectrum, and was amazed how playwriting could be used as a communication tool with my students. Through the six week course (which I instructed twice), the students were able to share their struggles with each other and form valuable connections. Watching them speak openly about the difficulties they faced with ASD was incredibly moving. These conversations were usually unprompted. They were usually sparked by a writing exercise, such as listening to a piece of music to gain inspiration for a scene. By connecting to the music, the students found words to describe their inner fears and insecurities- and in this discovery, found a chance to overcome them with their peers. These experiences led me to enter into my own education: last year, I completed one year of master's level courses at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Because of my high GRE scores and positive teacher evalutions, I was accepted into their Clinical Psychology Doctoral (Psy. D) Program, with a Child and Adolescent concentration, as well as awarded an entry scholarship for my high GPA in their Master's program. My dream is to practice child and adolescent psychology using expressive therapies, such as play therapy, dance/movement therapy, narrative therapy, and music therapy. I hope to open an arts-based practice where those recieving services can also enroll in group workshops and classes to further enhance their therapy. I believe that the arts can develop a strong sense of self in any child, but are especially valuable to those children who have experienced trauma or a diagnosis such as ASD, ADHD, or other behavior disorders. My journey to a Doctoral begins as I write this entry (September 1, 2014). The Chicago School is an excellent program, and a non-for-profit organization. Their tuition is low for the average cost of a Psy. D degree, however, after five years in the program, my tuition alone will be $100,000. My goal with this GoFunding project is to raise part of that money to help with the cost of tuition. Because my previous career was in the arts, I do not have a savings account built up to combat the debt school will cause. However, I am confident in my decision to obtain this degree as well as my ability to complete this program and succeed after graduation. If you also believe the arts are for more than just decoration and believe children deserve to benefit from a practitioner who believes in the power of art, please support me in my cause!