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Making meaningful connections — despite the pandemic

Stories | 10.04.22

Flavia Silveira is counting down the days until she gets to celebrate a successful graduate school journey — in person.

Photo of Flavia Silveira at Pride

Ms. Silveira during a Pride event in 2021.

“I haven’t seen some of my classmates and professors in person since my first term,” said Silveira, who plans to attend the Adler University Vancouver Commencement Ceremony on Oct. 8 at The Orpheum Theatre.

Silveira first arrived at Adler in the fall of 2019, but within months the COVID-19 pandemic forced classes to go mostly virtual until she completed their requirements in December 2021.

But despite the pandemic’s impact and a busy schedule of classes and practicum studies, Silveira said it didn’t stop them from making meaningful connections at Adler, a point of advice she wants to share with future students.

“Connect with as many people as possible,” said Silveira, who completed her Master of Counselling Psychology: School & Youth program. “Be open and share ideas. Everyone you’re going to class with will be your peers after Adler. When things become a bit lonely in the profession, they’ll provide that community support.”

Silveira found many of those connections as a student leader with Adler Vancouver Pride Association.

“I am queer myself, and in every place I go to, I want to do my part in creating a safe and welcoming space for others in the community,” Silveira said. “I’ve been doing that since my time in Brazil.”

Silveira moved to Vancouver in 2018. While attending an English as a second language school, she learned about Adler.

“When I first visited the campus, I just fell in love with it,” she said. “I loved the colorful building, and I loved how Adler approaches its programs with a social justice lens.”

After enrolling, she immediately joined the Pride Association.

“I wanted to marry my passion in counselling and passion for the queer community,” she said. “And I wanted to connect with other students who are queer.”

Then the pandemic struck, preventing the Association from meeting in person.

“But we weren’t going to let that stop us from organizing events that benefit our communities,” she said.

Among their most proud moments include co-creating the Pride Hour, an event that brought Adler students, instructors, and staff together to virtually discuss topics and issues facing the queer community. It invited subject matter experts with a goal to help everyone learn ways to improve their work with queer clients in the mental health field.

Silveira also organized a virtual discussion with author M. Ellery and illustrator Clara Reschke on their children’s book “A Color Named Love,” which tells the story of a young child who is lovingly raised by a polyamorous family.

Silveira recalled messaging the author and illustrator on Instagram to invite them to discuss the book with Adler students.

“That’s when I learned they were both Brazilian,” she said. “It felt like a full circle moment.”

Today, Silveira works in a community setting, offering low-cost, short-term mental health services in the ethnically diverse Grandview-Woodland neighborhood in Vancouver. She works with a variety of populations, including refugees, immigrants, and its Indigenous communities.

“I absolutely love my job,” she said. “It’s fulfilling and enriching, and I’m learning so much as a person and as a professional.”

She found the position through a referral from a fellow Adler graduate, whom she made a connection with during their time at Adler.

“I encourage others to get involved in student groups,” Silveira said. “Help continue to create a safe and inclusive space. These experiences ultimately help us to be socially responsible practitioners. One thing I learned from Adler is that you’ll find the support that you need.”

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