Young Psychology Alumna Shines Bright in Portland

Alicia SagerAlicia Sager, ’11, ’14, was prepared to enter the professional field when she graduated from UCF with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. The balance of being challenged and equally supported by UCF and the Psychology Department has prepared Sager for her career.

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Sager continued her education at UCF, earning her master’s degree in social work. Last month, Sager began pursuing her license to become a licensed clinical social worker in Portland, Oregon. She works for a community mental health agency called Sequoia Mental Health Services, helping adults who suffer from mental illness in the Portland community.

Before moving to Portland this October, Sager worked at Broward Guardian, an accountable care organization in South Florida. Sager explained that working with an accountable care organization brought her to the cutting edge of the healthcare reform, earning her a lot of insight and experiences. While working as a care coordinator with geriatric Medicare patients, she served as a resource specialist for seniors. Her goal was to keep patients healthy and safe, making sure they received the care they needed by identifying other services in the community that may benefit them.

During her academic career at UCF, Sager maintained numerous internships in Central Florida and at UCF. She explained that these opportunities have been invaluable to her career, along with the curriculum, staff and students in the Psychology Department.

“I would have never become the young professional I am today if it were not for the staff and student body of UCF. I am so proud to be a Knight because of the many opportunities available to UCF students,” said Sager.

Sager shared more on her experience at UCF, her young career and advice to students and alumni.

Why did you choose to attend UCF?

UCF believed in me. I applied and was accepted in 2006. Even then it was competitive and all I had was my art portfolio. Attached to my portfolio was an extra letter I wrote about why being creative is more important than an outstanding academic history. Admissions at UCF were the only ones who sent me back my portfolio (back then it was in slide hardcopy format) with “beautiful” written on it. When I was accepted I knew this is my path because I felt support from the beginning.

How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?

My degree was not just about taking classes and walking across the stage at the end. I was pushed and challenged by the Psychology curriculum, staff, and other students to get involved outside of the classroom. When I graduated I had two years of experience in my field. I was resume ready to apply for my first post college job, with some confidence.

Were you involved in any extracurricular activities at UCF?

Campus Peace Action’s Tent City and Student Labor Action Project during the Occupy movement.  

What is your best UCF memory?

My minor was in studio art so I was often on UCF campus from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. in the studio drawing. I loved that for 40 hours a week I was in the studio drawing from sunset until sunrise. Of course I could not work that semester and had to take out loans. It was worth it as I consider those times my best memories at UCF. I did not know I could feel and act on that kind of passion and I try to carry this passion into my daily life.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

While working with Broward Guardian, I had the honor of helping seniors in my community every day! It was my job to help them stay healthy and happy in their own homes. It was very rewarding work.

What is your most memorable experience on the job? 

Sometimes, on a few special occasions, I had the privilege of being told really powerful stories from my patients. Some were heartfelt stories such as a married couple I had been working with for over nine months, told me they met during the initial aftermath of the holocaust, at a refugee camp. He told me he fell in love with his wife at first sight. Others were inspirational, such as a patient sharing with me that he helped found Israel and then showing me pictures with the prime minister, president, etc. I definitely hold onto those stories.

What piece of advice would you give to current students as well as UCF alumni?

Go outside of your comfort zone. Listen to your heart and ignore what other people tell you to do. Stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid! There are many opportunities at UCF to help you get experience or simply empower you to help you achieve your wildest dreams.

Sager shared some fun responses in our “get-to-know-you” portion of the spotlight.

Do you have any special/hidden talents?

I tamed a green winged macaw, named William, when I was five and he is still with me, 22 years later.

What do you do for fun?

I find catharsis in gardening and vinyasa yoga. My backyard right now has sunflowers, corn, dill, tulsi, lemon grass, marigolds, tomatoes, and broccoli! Tending to these plants is a part time job, but it is very grounding and I enjoy watching them grow. And of course eating them.

What is the happiest and/or proudest moment of your life?

My most prideful moment was getting hooded at graduation for earning my master’s degree in social work. It is one of my happiest memories of my young life so far.

What is something you learned in the past week?

Take time to think, play, read, and be loved. Life is going so fast and I cannot believe I am already 27 years old. Getting swept away in work makes it go by much more quickly I’ve realized. It is important for me to take time to do things that will enrich my inner world, too.

What is your best birthday memory?

I don’t have a favorite, but I have to say this past 27th birthday was wonderful. My mom and dad sat around the table to sing me happy birthday and then gave me a toast filled with wisdom and much love.

Comments are closed.