By Ana Burch


Surprised by the title? Dr. Phil was my nickname in elementary school. Whenever kids had a question, I was the one to answer it for them.

See, I’ve always loved helping people, which is probably how I ended up in my current job.

I work for Child Protective Services in Stockton where my job is literally to assist kids who just need someone to talk to.

So yeah, in a way, I’m still that same Dr. Phil type I was back in elementary school.

Perhaps, that’s also what allowed me to become the best leader and helper I could be on the basketball court as well.

Because, frankly, my desire to support others really did begin on a court back in grade school, with a very unlikely crowd.

Among The Boys

I didn’t know basketball was going to be such a big part of my life, but from a young age, the sport has shaped me to be who I am today.

When I was little, my cousins would let me play basketball with them. They never took it easy on me. It didn’t matter to them that I was younger and the only girl.

I didn’t care though, I loved the competition. It lit a fire in me. And my cousins helped me see that.

Inspired by my cousins, I began to play a lot more basketball.

At first, it was just pick-up games and H-O-R-S-E. In elementary school, I joined an organized team.

Since there wasn’t a girls’ team to play on, I ended up joining the boys’ basketball team. I didn’t mind. After all, I was used to playing with the boys.

But, after a while, that didn’t sit well with some of the moms.

They ended up petitioning for me to get kicked off the team, which crushed me.

There was something good to come out of this though – a girls’ team was formed. Through me, inadvertently, more girls were able to play basketball.

A lot of the girls on the team didn’t have much playing experience and needed help getting used to the competitive side of the game.

I took it upon myself to be a mentor and support them in any way I could. It just came so naturally to me, and I absolutely loved guiding them.

I continued to be that type of teammate throughout my basketball career, which eventually led me to Stanislaus State. It was there that I’d find another person who required my help – me.


A lot of the girls on the team didn't have much playing experience and needed help getting used to the competitive side of the game. I took it upon myself to be a mentor and support them in any way I could. It just came so naturally to me, and I absolutely loved guiding them.

Self Care

Going to college was surreal to me. As a first-generation college student, it is an absolute honor to represent my family this way.

I love being able to serve as a role model for my younger siblings and cousins. This is something I don’t take lightly. I want them to be proud of me.

The other thing I couldn’t believe at first was that I was going to play college basketball. Initially, I had all these questions going through my head.

Do I belong? Am I good enough?”

Some of those questions were immediately answered at one of the first practices. 

In one of the first practices, the team was split into old and new players. And in that scrimmage, our team of newbies beat the veterans. That moment put my mind at ease. I now knew that I belonged on the team. 

Still, the pressures of being a student-athlete are tough and didn’t vanish. There’s a lot of stuff to balance and sometimes you just need a breather.

I’m so grateful to Stanislaus State for allowing me to focus on improving my mental health and promoting self-care. Through them, I was able to focus on giving myself a break and taking a moment to exhale during a very stressful time.

I need to remember that self-care is as important as anything else.
In my job, it’s one of the many things I try to get across.

A Helping Hand

As I mentioned, I now work for the CPS, working with children who are struggling in life.

It can be as simple as talking to a kid who is going through a tough time or it can be a lot more complicated. There are so many little boys and girls who need that friendly face. While I love my job, this can take a toll on your mental well-being.

For example, there was this 10-year old boy who had recently lost his mother. He was now falling behind in school and getting into trouble. He just needed someone to talk to. I would bring coloring books, and we would just sit and color.

At first, he didn’t want to talk to me at all. However, as the year went by, he not only would engage in more and more conversations, he also began to improve in school.

This is just one of the many cases. Children need our help. And that’s what we do to the best of our abilities.

Sometimes it’s just as simple as coloring with a frightened kid.

Whatever it is, these kids crave a friend, and I’m glad I can do my part to assist.

I believe my whole life has led me to this. Through my basketball career, I learned to guide and rely on others and how to be a good teammate.

My wonderful family’s support and inspiration have helped me succeed in school.

And through college and basketball, I have developed important self-care routines.

These things all equipped me to do this job. Now, I look to the future, ready for the next challenge.

A Calling

There are so many things I’d like to do with my life.

I love my current job, undoubtedly, but once I finished my master’s degree, a lot of new doors open up as well.

Maybe I want to go back to school and become a teacher, or perhaps I want to become a lawyer, fighting for these kids who need a voice.

No matter what, I know that I’ll be doing something that makes an impact. My whole life, my goal has been to serve and show care for those around me. 

Whatever my future holds, Dr. Phil will be there to help.


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