In her upcoming young adult novel, At Full Brightness, Sue Thao Do ’19 fictionalizes moments from her coming-of-age story as a Vietnamese American with physical disabilities in a deeply religious immigrant family. Do, who has cerebral palsy, hopes to raise awareness of the importance of mental health care, especially for AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) and BIPOC communities.
“I hope I’ve done a great deal to normalize how mental health is necessary to cultivating more self-care and compassion,” she says.
Writing for America Magazine recently, Do details her own mental health struggles before enrolling at Santa Clara and how incorporating Ignatian spirituality into cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was crucial in her recovery. The Ignatian Examen—a contemplative prayer during which one reflects on the moments of the day—particularly helped, she says.
“The Jesuits have a motto for finding God in all things,” Do says. “Like grounding in CBT where I use all five senses to focus on the present moment, the Examen helps me ‘see’ God working in my life.” There’s comfort in the daily practice of “letting go and focusing on what’s important for my mind, body, and soul.”