UFV student Kelly Ridder has always had a passion for social justice.
After working one-on-one with youth with substance use issues at the adolescent level, Ridder wanted to further advance her knowledge and skills in the mental health field.
Somehow over the past 20 months Ridder balanced a full-time job, and working toward a Master of Social Work degree at UFV, with being a mother to six children.
Ridder still obtained a perfect 4.33 grade point average – earning her the 2020 Governor General’s Gold Medal from UFV, given to the top student in a master’s degree program, according to a release from University of the Fraser Valley.
“I have valued and enjoyed my years at UFV, in the Social Services diploma, Bachelor of Social Work and now the Master of Social Work. I have found social work faculty at UFV to be a very inspiring and encouraging group of professors, which motivated me to continue and further my education and learning,” Ridder said.
She has a new home-health-care job with Fraser Health, which during a pandemic means donning personal protective equipment to visit clients in their homes.
In her previous role as a youth substance use counsellor in the Chilliwack school district, her work involved counselling and supporting adolescents who were engaging in substance use and often living with mental health issues. In some cases, the youth experienced a mental health crisis or concern that required them to attend the ER for additional psych care and treatment.
Those experiences with the ER and the psychiatric ward highlighted a multitude of issues and concerns which fuelled for her research.
“My research examined the current practices and responses to adolescents in North America who are seeking psychiatric care from an emergency department. I wanted to further research this area because I wanted to gain a better understanding of the clinical guidelines and frameworks in place when youth present at the emergency department in a mental health crisis.
“I believe that how we respond, support, and provide treatment for individuals living mental health concerns necessitates further research, and not just for adolescents but adults as well.”
It was a nice surprise when she found out that her hard work had paid off with a perfect GPA and the Governor General’s Gold Medal.
As UFV’s Convocation ceremonies have been postponed due to COVID-19, Ridder was visited at home recently by UFV President Joanne MacLean in full academic regalia to present the medal.
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