Meet the Valedictorian: Q&A with Bachelor of Arts in the field of Psychology Graduate Casey Gilbert

Casey Gilbert
Bachelor of Arts in the field of Psychology Valedictorian

What inspired you to study Psychology at UQ?

I have an identical twin sister, so from a young age I was fascinated by the brain and behaviour – how could we be so similar, and yet so different? However, it wasn’t until my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia that I really began to consider studying psychology. The last few years of her life were a scary and confusing time for my family. This inspired me to become a clinical neuropsychologist, as I could help other families through these difficult times by detecting cognitive impairment early and providing psychological support throughout disease progression.

What has been your most memorable moment at UQ?

Most of all, I'll remember the little things like sitting on the Great Court in the sunshine between classes, seeing the jacaranda trees bloom in spring, and having my croissant stolen by an ibis. But if I had to pick one, it would be the Psychology Ball in 2022 - I was President of the Psychology Association last year and was tasked with planning and executing the ball. It was a beautiful feeling to see it all come together on the day and watch my friends enjoy themselves and celebrate after a long year of study.

How did you manage to balance your study, work and other extracurricular activities?

To be completely honest, I think like most uni students this is something that I had difficulty with. One thing that helped me was scheduling time to take breaks, and then trying my best to completely switch off from my uni work while I took that time to rest. This helped me (somewhat) prevent burnout and keep myself productive. I also had very supportive family and friends, who helped me stay motivated when times were busy!

What drove you to become such a high achiever?

Psychology and writing (my extended major and minor) are two of my biggest interests and I’ve always wanted to have a career that involves both areas. Psychology and writing are both competitive fields to break into and because of this, I knew I needed to perform highly at university to give myself the best possible chance to achieve my career goals. I was also very aware of how much HECS debt this degree was putting me in, so I was determined to put 100% effort into the program I was paying so much for.

What are you most passionate about?

I’m very passionate about people! The quest to understand people’s behaviour is what drove me into studying psychology, and the feeling of fulfilment that comes from working with others to improve their quality of life is what’s keeping me on this career path. I’m driven to help people understand more about psychology as a profession. The idea of therapy, assessment and research can be intimidating, so my goal is to make people feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible when they first interact with psychologists and researchers.

What do you believe it takes to become valedictorian?

In one word: passion. University was stressful, and there were so many times when I felt like giving up. But my passion for psychology and writing helped me stay sane throughout busy assessment seasons. I chose my electives based on what would be the most ‘fun’, rather than what would get me the best grades or look the best on my transcript. By doing courses that I genuinely enjoyed, I was constantly reminded why I chose this degree, and this helped me stay motivated to study and complete assessments to the absolute best of my ability.

What does being awarded Valedictorian mean to you?

I feel so honoured and grateful to be awarded valedictorian. I put a large amount of effort into both my academic work and my extracurricular commitments, but there was always a voice in the back of my head that questioned whether I did ‘enough’. Being awarded valedictorian is so special to me because it is a concrete acknowledgment of the effort that I put in and the results I achieved. Take that, imposter syndrome!

What advice would you give future UQ students?

If possible, don’t listen to the opinions of others when it comes to deciding your university pathway. I was originally afraid to study an Arts degree, because of societal stereotypes that it’s an ‘easy’ or ‘useless’ program to complete. But studying this degree was the best decision I could have made; I enjoyed many of my courses, had an incredible time participating in faculty-related student societies, and achieved a high level of academic performance. I also want to emphasise the importance of taking time off to rest and recuperate if needed - I learned this the hard way!

What's next for you after graduation?

First, I’ll be prioritising rest and sleep! Eventually I’ll return to university to do a Masters of Clinical Neuropsychology, but first I’m taking some time after graduation to build on my practical skills. I’ll be working as a research assistant at the UQ Neuropsychology Research Clinic, and I’ll also continue working in my role as a receptionist at a psychology practice. I’m then taking time off to do some backpacking around Europe - COVID really ruined my plans for a semester abroad while at uni!

Learn more about UQ's Bachelor of Arts Psychology Major.
Last updated:
8 December 2023