Elizabeth Razzouk | Student Success Series

This blog has been reviewed by Katya Santucci and Elijah Nimijean, edited by Rémi Thériault

Elizabeth Razzouk, McGill University psychology student

Elizabeth, tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Elizabeth Razzouk, and I am a recent high school graduate from Bayview Secondary School, located in Richmond Hill, Ontario. I’m 17 years old and I will be entering McGill University in Montreal, Quebec this fall to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and English Literature. Throughout high school, I was exposed to many different subjects and pathways that I could choose to embark on post-graduation, but the field of psychology has always appealed to me. I grew up fascinated with history, particularly the Tudor reign. I used to read fictional portrayals of the diaries that historians imagined Queen Elizabeth I would write during her childhood and teenage years. What I remember being most interested in was empathizing with her feelings, and the struggles she went through. I would read countless fictional historical diaries after that, from Catherine the Great to Grand Duchess Anastasia, all with the same intent: to learn more about how the world changed them, and how they remained graceful yet resilient despite it all.

Throughout my teenage years, I’ve always been a supporter of Positive Psychology. I am a strong believer in developing the quality of resilience. After all, self-acceptance and a dedication to self-improvement will all lead to a higher quality of life. Being a Canadian Positive Psychology Association Student Ambassador while also entering my undergraduate degree has given me so much perspective on how my next four years studying psychology are years filled with opportunity, healing, and excitement.

What do you think made you successful as a student?

I think that what makes me successful as a student, ultimately, is a love for learning, and an understanding of what success means to me personally. What is “successful” or what makes someone “successful” is subjective in my eyes, as that word resonates with us all in unique ways. One component that I believe is key for all successful students is to love what you do and to pursue it with passion and genuine interest. Nobody can truly succeed in a field they don’t actually care about, since they likely derive no true self-satisfaction or fulfillment from it (despite them potentially pulling in amazing grades and scores). Without the joy that should naturally arise from learning what you love, is any measure of objective success truly going to be felt? I don’t think so.

One component that I believe is key for all successful students is to love what you do, and to pursue it with passion and genuine interest.

I wouldn’t be the person I am today with the goals and path that I plan to embark on without the trait and strength of resilience. Resilience didn’t come easy to me; it formed from multiple painful life experiences, failures, rock bottoms, and bleak futures. True resilience may only be found in understanding that you, as a human being, have innate value and can accomplish great things, in spite of your perceived shortcomings.

Alongside developing stronger resilience, I have also adopted the habit of making studying an enjoyable experience! This is really important for someone like me, who’s best (and worst) work is dependent on my mood, and how I am feeling in my studying environment. Making studying an aesthetic environment, as cliche as that may sound, where I feel secure and calm, leads to my mind feeling refreshed, and my motivation staying at a peak high. It allows me to easily fall into the deep studying flow that is crucial for studying long periods of time. For me, this means lighting candles around my room, dimming the lights, preparing a hot cup of coffee, wrapping myself in blankets, and situating my mind into feeling relaxed, as studying often stresses me to the point where the stress stops me from starting in the first place. This has seriously improved my work ethic, and also made studying an enjoyable activity that I look forward to!

True resilience may only be found in understanding that you, as a human being, have innate value and can accomplish great things, in spite of your perceived shortcomings.

The most crucial step I believe for anyone wishing to learn how to cultivate self-resilience, and how to enjoy learning, is to reflect on themselves. They must understand who they are, how they work, what motivates (and demotivates) them, and what they want to accomplish in life. I was able to develop more resilience and understand what motivates me to study by deeply reflecting on who I am, my experiences, my strengths and weaknesses, the kind of person I wanted to become, and the qualities I would need to cultivate in order to make these changes possible. I also reflected on how my intentional personality changes would impact my future and my happiness, as well as the happiness of others. When you’re happy with yourself and focused on your self-growth, you also are able to fully encourage those around you, and guide them into becoming better people.

When you’re happy with yourself and focused on your self-growth, you also are able to fully encourage those around you, and guide them into becoming better people.

Know that no matter where you are in life, you can always change your direction and path if you are unhappy with your current situation. In high school, we were all encouraged to choose a career path by the time we were applying to universities. This process was incredibly stressful, and the pressure it put on me led me to experience multiple crises over what I was going to do with my life, and what I was even capable of accomplishing.

I want to tell you this: You are capable of whatever you want to do; the world is truly your oyster if you allow yourself to believe that you are worthy of all those possibilities. I, too, often have to deal with low self-esteem and self-doubt, and it causes me to not feel capable enough to pursue what I want. As a result of this lack of self-faith, I’ve missed out on opportunities and scholarships. However, I’ve learned that missing out on those opportunities was neither crushing nor crucial to my academic success. I was still able to determine the course of my career and life goals; I just needed to unlock my confidence and trust myself in order to do so.

Thank you so much for reading about me; I’d love to know more about you too! Nothing fascinates me more than the human mind and soul, and I’d deeply love to share all of that with you. You can reach me at razzoukelizabeth@gmail.com or on my LinkedIn anytime to discuss with me further. For any inquiries relating to McGill University, I am reachable at elizabeth.razzouk@mail.mcgill.ca.

I’m looking forward to our future conversations!

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We are the Student Ambassador Program of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association (CPPA). Find our website here: https://www.cppa.ca/Student-Zone