Alex Kloety is in his second year of graduate school at UW-Milwaukee, earning his master’s degree in social work. The aspiring mental health professional is one of the Council’s 2019 Scholarship Winners. He and Council Writer Katherine Corbett discussed Alex’s chosen field, the importance of self-advocacy, and his creative hobbies.
Katherine Corbett: Tell me about the first time you knew you wanted to be a mental health provider for young adults. What sparked your curiosity about this field?
Alex Kloety: In high school, I wanted to be a surgeon. I came to the realization it would not be possible because of my arthritis. I decided on psychology. While I was in college, I lost my vision. I stayed in school through that experience, and got my Bachelor of Science in psychology from Upper Iowa University. As part of my studies, I did an internship at a transitional residential treatment facility for people with substance abuse disorders. Ages of the participants ranged from eighteen through people in their sixties. I found I connected better to the younger people, which surprised me. I generally relate better to older people in my personal life. Throughout the internship experience, I learned that counseling younger people is where I belonged.
Katherine: Perseverance seemed to be a theme in your application and throughout your life. What does that word mean to you?
Alex: For me, persevering has always been very tied into advocating for yourself. I try to instill in my teenage clients that most people can get through a lot of things by advocating for themselves and finding the resources that can help. I encourage them to remember that no matter what happens in your life, you are worthy to get help and live your best life. I am fortunate that my mom was a great advocate for me; she taught me how to be my own advocate. I try and pass that knowledge along to my clients, because not everybody gets taught how to be a self-advocate.
Katherine: What kinds of activities do you like to do in your spare time?
Alex: I like watching Netflix, and I do puzzles and read articles on my phone. I also like to make things. I use Taracord to make collars for my pets, and make necklaces out of horseshoe nails. This past summer, I restored a picnic table with redwood, and it’s now our kitchen table.
Katherine: How have you adapted your hobbies to accommodate your visual impairment?
Alex: A lot of the things I enjoy doing are physical, so I take time before I start to anticipate things that may not go as planned, as well as how my vision will impact the way I do things. On my phone, I use inverted colors and different themes help make text easier to see on the screen.
Katherine: What are three words friends or family members would use to describe you?
Alex: I asked my mom this question, and she said inspiring, dedicated and giving.