" The natural beauty, vibrance, and welcoming community made SFU a compelling choice for my academic career. Additionally, the research being done at SFU, particularly through the SECURE Lab, caught my attention and ultimately influenced my decision."

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Victoria Martins Mendonca

June 11, 2024

Social Psychology master's student in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Tell us a little about yourself, including what inspires you to learn and continue in your chosen field

I have always had this insatiable curiosity to understand the underlying "whys" of life. My journey into psychology and research began through this hunger I had for more knowledge. Exploring the works of figures like Freud, Bowlby, and Ainsworth for the first time truly fascinated me and opened me up to this new world of relational psychology. Learning about how individuals connect, form attachments, and navigate relationships instantly became my passion. In turn, I did my honours degree in Psychology at the University of Guelph where I focused my undergraduate thesis on adult attachment style and knowledge about partner sex history. Today, I continue to explore attachment and relationships as a graduate student in the SECURE Lab under the supervision of Dr. Yuthika Girme. I am passionate about relational psychology due to its applicability in our daily lives. It offers insights into the different elements that shape who we are - our interactions, emotions, connections, and overall well-being. By delving into this field, I am not only enriching my understanding of human behaviour and its interactions with relational dynamics, but also equipping others with the tools to foster healthier, more fulfilling relationships—both personal and external. Thus, the significance and endless opportunity for discovery and growth in psychology, particularly, relational psychology, is what inspires me to continue in this field.

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

Although I was born and raised in Ontario, British Columbia has always felt like home to me. The natural beauty, vibrance, and welcoming community made SFU a compelling choice for my academic career. Additionally, the research being done at SFU, particularly through the SECURE Lab, caught my attention and ultimately influenced my decision. Under the guidance of my supervisor, Dr. Yuthika Girme, the SECURE Lab focuses on understanding interpersonal relationships to foster greater relationships and personal well-being. The opportunity to be a part of such meaningful research, coupled with the allure of the BC lifestyle, made SFU the perfect fit for me!

How would you describe your research or your program to a family member?

If I were describing my research or program to a family member, I would simplify it by focusing on the core concepts. I might say something like: "You know how we're always interested in why people behave the way they do, especially in relationships? Well, my research focuses on exactly that! I study how people connect and navigate their relationships. It's like trying to uncover the secrets to why some relationships work so well while others struggle. By researching these dynamics, I hope to help people build healthier and more fulfilling relationships. It’s an exciting program as well because I get to research questions like this and take courses that help build my skills in hopes of making a positive impact on people's lives and their relationships!"

What three (3) keywords would you use to describe your research?

Relational psychology, Attachment theory, and Interpersonal dynamics.

How have your courses, RA-ships, TA-ships, or non-academic school experiences contributed to your academic and/or professional development?

My involvement as a research assistant (RA) and teaching assistant (TA), alongside non-academic experiences, has significantly shaped my academic and professional development. As an RA, I've gained hands-on research skills, while my TA roles develop my leadership skills and ability to communicate complex ideas effectively. Non-academic experiences, such as extracurricular crisis response and counseling activities, have also broadened my perspective and understanding of other psychology domains such as clinical and counselling psych.

Have you been the recipient of any major or donor-funded awards? If so, please tell us which ones and a little about how the awards have impacted your studies and/or research

My research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC CGSM Award). This support has allowed me to dedicate more time to my coursework and research, boosting my confidence and opening doors to further opportunities in my field.


Contact Victoria:victoria.mendonca4@hotmail.com

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