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Saturday, June 10, 2023


Catalyst leadership luncheon speaker inspires students to pursue different careers

Students who attended the Catalyst Leadership Luncheon series hosted by the Center for Student Involvement Thursday now have a framework to use when it comes to building their future careers. 

Kenneth Arfa spoke to students about his transition from being a journalist to now working as a psychiatrist for the UH Health Center with his lecture, “The Power of Change.” He shared his experiences of what it was like making a big change in his career path after college.

Graduate assistant for the leadership program and doctoral candidate Hollie Yang approached Arfa and asked him to speak to students. 

“He could be a good example and give honest advice to students,” Yang said.

Arfa started his professional career with a masters in journalism. He found that the instability of the career was not what he wanted to experience for the rest of his life.

Every year, he had a new job. His father-in-law suggested he go to dental school and take over his practice. Arfa wasn’t interested in becoming a dentist but he became interested in going to medical school.

Arfa then decided to pursue medical school. He remembers feeling out of place since most of the students were in their early 20s, while he was 27 years old.  

“The first year of medical school was hard,” Arfa said. “It was like putting a funnel to your head with information and hoping something would stay.”

After his first year, things got better. Arfa said he made good grades and became the president of his medical fraternity. Once he figured out that he wanted to become a psychiatrist, he started his new career working as the Psychiatric Director of Dallas County, where he helped take care of mentally ill inmates. 

After eight years, Arfa moved to Houston and applied for the psychiatrist opening that the UH Health Center had. Arfa said the change of scenery from a prison to UH was welcomed. 

“Here, I would work on a beautiful college campus,” Arfa said.

Arfa works with students who want psychiatric help dealing with issues like substance abuse, eating disorders, depression and anxiety. He works with a range of issues that students may have in their personal life and school life.

“Most of the time, my patients know what they need to do,” Arfa said. “They just need the guidance and strength to follow through with it.”

Arfa hopes that his lecture will help students have the courage to meet their goals. Each student received a goal-setting worksheet that helps them plan the steps they need to achieve what they want to in life.

“They should be brave and make a change if they need to,” Arfa said. “They are not alone. People do this all the time and they can succeed.”

Students like health sophomore Zeel Vora said they appreciated Arfa’s lecture and found it refreshing.

“I feel inspired in a way,” Vora said. “I realize how hard it is, so seeing someone who did it takes off the pressure in a way.”

The leadership program at UH hosts luncheons once a month with special guest speakers who share their experiences of how they became leaders in their field.  

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