May 30, 2017

Graduate Conquers Anxiety, Fear, and Imposter Syndrome

When Kyle Hamilton got back her first homework assignment in grad school, she had gotten the lowest score in the entire class — reinforcing her fear that she didn't belong.

Hamilton’s moving speech at this month’s School of Information commencement ceremony detailed her fight against anxiety, depression, and imposter syndrome on her journey through the Master of Information and Data Science degree program.

“It takes a lot of effort to overcome those berating little voices inside your head constantly telling you you’re not good enough, that any moment you will be discovered for the fraud you are,” said Hamilton.

“It takes a lot of effort to overcome those berating little voices inside your head constantly telling you you’re not good enough.”
–Kyle Hamilton (MIDS ’17)

But graduate school wasn’t the only struggle Hamilton had to overcome. She also told the story of her battle with a serious mental health disorder — and with the health insurance companies over paying for her treatment. After years of appeals, Hamilton says “they hauled me before a tribunal, and they said to me, ‘Kyle Hamilton, you are incurable. You do not merit spending any more funds on, and henceforth, we deny any obligation to pay for your treatment.’”

The Master of Information and Data Science program is a fully online degree program, so Hamilton was surprised by the strength of her relationships with her new classmates. “I discovered this incredible sense of community and mutual support,” she said. “I have felt more connected to you nerds online than I ever felt in my two undergrads.”

“The truth is I wasn’t an impostor then, and I’m not an impostor now — and neither are any of you.”
–Kyle Hamilton (MIDS ’17)

Through the support of her faculty and classmates and her sheer determination, Hamilton learned to overcome her fears and self-doubt. “It’s one thing to hear the voices,” she explained; “it’s another thing to listen to them and believe them.”

“I entered this program a deer in the headlights, riddled with anxiety and driven by fear, and I’m standing here today finally letting the evidence shape my perspective,” she said. “The truth is I wasn’t an impostor then, and I’m not an impostor now — and neither are any of you.”

Images

Kyle Hamilton (MIDS ’17)
Kyle Hamilton (MIDS ’17)

Videos

Kyle Hamilton: MIDS student address, Commencement 2017, UC Berkeley School of Information

Kyle Hamilton: MIDS student address, Commencement 2017, UC Berkeley School of Information

Last updated:

June 5, 2017