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JUNE 15

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The Art of Healing

Lebanon Valley College psychology graduate Darryl Sweeper

Darryl Sweeper ’15 started his LVC career as a chemical engineering major, something he was unsure about during his first year. However, things quickly changed for Sweeper after a sporting accident that literally changed his life.

“I faced a ton of adversity my first year at LVC,” said Sweeper. “My third week of classes, I suffered a concussion during a football game which set me back three weeks for all my courses. Chemical engineering did not work out because I had fallen too far behind. Fortunately, that setback afforded me the chance to have an honest conversation with myself about what excited me.”

Upon further reflection, Sweeper decided that psychology was the right fit for him based on his communication skills and value of friends and community. 

Sweeper demonstrated his love of helping others while working as a 50/50 Peer Helper for two years. He created community outreach events that advocated against racism, domestic violence, and discrimination during that experience. He also created “de-stress” events for struggling students. These activities revolved around creative arts and were fueled by his creative writing minor, allowing him to combine the two things he loved most, helping others and creating art.

“My connection to the creative arts was robust in the form of songwriting, singing, writing poetry, and journaling. The integration of visual art came during my class on Color in Art and was the impetus for me pursuing my degree in expressive art therapy,” said Sweeper. 

After graduating from LVC, Sweeper pursued his master’s in clinical mental health counseling, with a concentration in expressive arts therapy, at William James College in Boston, Mass., which he completed in June 2017.

“I decided not to end my training at the master’s level, but instead to attain a doctorate. I made this choice so that at some point in my career, I might be able to reenter academia as an educator, encouraging black and brown youth to find their voice within the field,” said Sweeper. 

While in grad school, Sweeper participated in internships serving those with severe mental illness, psychosocial oncology, and adolescent mental health. He currently is completing his APA Internship in Health Psychology at Penn Medicine in the University of Pennsylvania Health System. He expects to complete his doctoral studies in June. 

Sweeper attributes much of his grad school success to LVC’s Multicultural Fellowship Program. The program serves as a space for BIPOC  (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students, providing support and ensuring their success in school while building character and strengthening their resolve for facing adversity. 

“The experience taught me how to build community. It exhibited the importance of fellowship in the construction of one’s identity,” said Sweeper, who also competed on the LVC football and track & field teams. “The foundation that this program provided was central to my triumph.”

Sweeper plans to open a private practice to provide equitable care for underserved communities, and develop an art studio and create a non-profit organization dedicated to healing through collectivism for BIPOC cancer survivors.

“The sky is not the limit. The work that I’ve done and my passion have transcended state lines and extended outside the country. I am interested in creating unforgettable memories with everyone that I encounter, and I strive to bring my most authentic self into all relationships, inside and outside of the therapy space,” said Sweeper.

 

-- Josh Hildebrand, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant