SpotlightTeacher Tell-allProfessor Tell-all Interview: Professor Besmira Lahi

On college struggles, family, mental health, and self-esteem.
Kejsi Beqiraj2 months ago3915 min

When we said that our newspaper was truly going to be a forum of, by, and for the students of UNYT, we were not just saying. Most of you wanted us to interview our dear professor of Psychology Besmira Lahi, and so we did. In 1500 lines, enough for a research paper, professor Besmira told me all about her professional career, both as a lecturer and a clinical psychologist, while sharing her opinions on subjects regarding student life, socials issues, and other subjects of interest within our community.

“First of all, congratulations on this initiative, I believe it is going to be a well-appreciated asset of UNYT, not only by the administration but also by professors and students alike,” she welcomes me with a warm smile. Her presence was nothing short of a professional psychologist; she easily established an atmosphere of confidence and closeness, creating the impression that she would tell me almost everything.

As we continue the interview, professor Besmira tells me that becoming a clinical psychologist was not really on her radar when she was young.

Professor Besmira: It was a contribution of the ongoing motivation from my high school professors who invited me to consider the path of becoming a clinical psychologist due to a lot of social-oriented activities I used to participate in regularly. Although it was not something I had spotted myself, I knew I would enjoy doing it because helping others and taking care of those in need, has always been a very important peculiarity of my identity.

“College was definitely a challenge,” she tells me. Although professor Besmira did not remember much of her college struggles, there was one, in particular, she was reminiscent about.

Professor Besmira: Going in, I had a lot of expectations regarding the abilities which a clinical psychologist must have. For example, my classmates and I were trying to do the psychologist with anyone and anytime, struggling to find out what was happening behind someone’s eyes and what they were actually thinking. We found it incredibly draining and challenging. The psychologist, inside of us, started to get out of hand but looking back on those days I realize that we were all creating our new identity in life. Today, I recommend this type of exploration to all the students attending Psychology.

As you all know, it worked out great for her. Professor Besmira graduated in Clinical Psychology from the University of Tirana in 2007 and in 2017 she received the title of Doctor of Philosophy from the same institution. However, after graduation, she decided to postpone her professional career due to a more important humanitarian mission – as she calls it.

Professor Besmira: I was one of the candidates to become a lecturer in the same institution. Nevertheless, I decided to postpone my professional career due to a more important humanitarian mission: becoming a mother and creating my family. From 2008 until 2017, I started working in the public administration as a Manager of Educational and Training Programs. During this time, I was also doing my Ph.D. degree and taking care of my two little kids.

Professor Besmira is also a research enthusiast. She has published papers on some of the most prestigious journals, such as the European Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies. She has covered, amongst others, issues that our UNYT Insider audience was very interested to read about, namely self-esteem and mental health problems. So, I asked professor Besmira directly on how she would help anyone who is reading this interview and is struggling with their self-perception and mental health.

Professor Besmira: […] The common denominator between these issues has to do with the common struggles of the individual of the 21 st Century: “Am I going to succeed in life?” “Am I going to be happy?” “Who will support me if my family will not?” My understanding is that we are asking way too much from our youngsters.[…]On the other side, we as parents are focused so much on finances and professional advancement that we forget how important it is to deliver a hug, a kiss, and sharing a 5-minute talk with your kids. There are a lot of techniques that can come in handy in these cases. However, in order to identify the best technique, we need to get to know the individual we have in front of us on a personal level, there is no one-size-fits-all advice. However, I would recommend talking to someone and not beholding to the stigma that you are suffering from something. Youngsters should be the ones to never refuse help but instead, be prone to asking for help whenever they need it. It determines more than 30% of self-recovery chances.

As you may also know from your own experiences, a very big contributor to self- perception and mental health issues among teens and young adults, which often leads to depression, is the uncertainty of what the future holds, whether or not we are going to live up to the life and the dreams we have planned for ourselves. Professor Besmira had some words of choice for anyone who is going through the same insecurities.

Professor Besmira: For anyone who is struggling with insecurities regarding what you are currently doing in life and what you will become as future professionals, I would advise focusing on the present. You are responsible for giving your best in learning, benefiting from every resource of information, and networking in and out of our university. You are the ones who dictate your own life, therefore never refuse to be engaged in activities that aim to unlock your full potential.

Although professor Besmira was very careful to refrain herself from stepping out of her academic persona, she let us in on another aspect of her life when asked about her most significant achievement. “My family,” she responded quickly; “My beautiful son, my daughter, and my husband, who are always supporting me in my personal and academic career.” Without their support, I would have never had such profound love for giving to all for the sake of humanity,” she added.

I must say that remaining positive and spreading happiness was the tone throughout the whole conversation. Even when asked about how she would define successful people, professor Besmira simply responded “Happy People. […] Successful people understand that happiness is the most determining factor on whether or not you are going to be successful.” And what is her secret to remaining happy you ask? Here you have it.

Professor Besmira: I am a solar person; sometimes when the sun is missing my energy gets drained out. However, I listen to some good music, hug the people I love, and talk to them. Shortly after that, I go back to my energized and positive self.

Although it did not work for me, I suggest you try it – you might have better luck.

Speaking of good music, professor Besmira is a die-hard fan of the musical band Pink Floyd. “I admire their life philosophy. In their honor, I have named my son Flojd,” she adds. She is also a book lover. “Every time I am approaching big changes in my life,” she tells me, “I stick to philosophy books. I recommend the “Metamorphosis of Love”. This book would help everyone understand that no matter what happens in life, it is important to love yourself and others.”

Before wrapping it up, professor Besmira had one last heartfelt message to deliver to the UNYT Insider audience:

Professor Besmira: Believe in yourself! Believe in your strengths! Despite the concerns you might have, you are capable of achieving whatever you set eyes on. My appreciation goes to all of the students who have recognized my contribution at UNYT. I am deeply grateful to the UNYT Insider for giving me this opportunity to be even closer to my dear student.

The UNYT Insider staff is deeply thankful to professor Besmira for accepting to deliver this interview to us. While we cannot wait for the next Professor Tell-All Interview, do not forget that you choose the professor to be interviewed. You can send us suggestions on our social media accounts or if you are old-fashioned and prefer in-person interactions, you can meet us on campus.

Kejsi Beqiraj

Kejsi is a sophomore at University of New York in Tirana. His “a-ha!” lightbulb moment in life was the second he realized that words carry the vibration needed to serve as a source of inspiration, encouragement, and life-changing revelations. As such, he utilizes the power of storytelling to connect with people on a deeper level of humanity. At Insider, he is Editor-in-Chief for the 1st Managerial Board. He seeks to bring into spotlight social issues that have long been the cause of injustice and inequality in our society.