Helping others in Sir Lanka

Many people come to college not knowing what they will do with their degree. Students change their major, some multiple times, and struggle to find their calling. For student Halia Daugherty, things are finally clicking into place.

 Daugherty is currently a chemistry major, but she is working hard to switch into a psychology major, while minoring in chemistry. 

She is currently working with the autistic clients at the special education school, ACES, where she is a behavioral interventionist.

 “I was searching for a summer internship in the field of Psychology. I expected to find one in the bay area but when I came across SLV online I got hooked,” said Daugherty. 

SLV, or Sri Lanka Volunteers, is a volunteer program for psychology undergraduate and graduate students. 

“Four times a year SLV travels with a team to Sri Lanka for a various number of weeks dedicating their time and care to special needs and mental health patients, while also teaching the English language,” said Daugherty.

 Because Daugherty has little experience in the world of mental health, she was worried that she would not be accepted into the program. 

However, after a lengthy application process, she was selected to be a part of the special needs team and travel to Sri Lanka for five weeks beginning in the end of June. 

“I’ve been put into the special needs program where five days a week I will be visiting special needs patients at SLV’s warehouse in Sri Lanka and at hospitals. I will be teaching English and helping patients with day-to-day activities that will heighten their cognitive functioning. I expect to gain loads of hands-on-experience in the field,” said Daugherty.

 This experience is something that Daugherty will be able to use for her future goals. 

“With my future career in psychology, I plan to go to graduate school and receive my PhD in psychology with a concentration in bio-psychology, a form of neuroscience,” said Daugherty. “I want to do research for the rest of my life in the field of Psychology while traveling to third-world countries, to dedicate myself to those in need.”

 During the program, Daugherty will be staying with a local family that resides in the outskirts of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. 

The program works hard to keep costs as low as possible for volunteers. 

They do want money to be the reason someone cannot be a part of a team. That said, the cost to travel abroad is never cheap. 

Daugherty has a gofundme account where anyone can donate money to help with the expenses. The page can be found at

 Daugherty and her best friend Nisha Tidwell have been friends since 7th grade. 

“I’m happy for her and excited but I am nervous because it’s going to be a completely different environment than she’s used to,” said Tidwell. “People [when they go on these types of trips] end up discovering who they really are and what they want. I hope she feels accomplished and revitalized. Also I hope she learns a lot from the people she’ll be working with in order to help her with her career.” 

This will be her first trip out of the United States. 

“I couldn’t be more excited. I hope to return to California with a new perspective,” said Daugherty.