Spotlight: CPA Student Mentor Lauren Trafford and Mattia Gregory

Lauren Trafford photo
Lauren Trafford

Lauren Trafford and Mattia Gregory have never met in person. As we speak, they are as close as they have ever come – Lauren is in a little motel in Saskatchewan, taking some time out of her journey to speak to us on Zoom. She’s in the process of traveling back across Canada from her family home in Ontario to school in Edmonton. For the first time since she began mentoring Mattia, they are actually in the same province at the same time. And yet, with COVID, they will not be meeting in person right now – and maybe not ever.

Lauren came to the CPA Mentorship Program in a very pro-active way. She started a mentorship program of her own at her school, the University of Alberta – there was a big need for peer-to-peer mentorship from people at different levels. As she began this process, she got deep into the literature about mentorship in general – how it looked in various places, how it can benefit students. When she saw the ad for the CPA Mentorship Program, it seemed like a logical next step from what she was already doing.

Mattia Gregory photo
Mattia Gregory

Mattia, at the University of Saskatchewan, was having a lot of trouble trying to make sense of what her school’s guidance counselors were telling her. It seemed like they were throwing dozens of things at her, many of them contradictory, and she felt that the Student Mentorship program at the CPA could provide her with a little more direction. Especially for the next year, grad school, and the path forward.


You can listen to only one musical artist/group for the rest of your life. Who is it?
Lauren: Every song that comes on the radio is my favourite song! But if I have to pick one, it would be Elton John – he has a large enough catalogue that I would have variety!
Mattia: I’m like Lauren, I love every song. But I’m obsessed with the Backstreet Boys, and they’re starting to release new music, so I’m really excited.

Favourite word
Lauren: I think it’s “y’all”! I worked with a lady from Texas and I still find myself calling a group of people “y’all”!
Mattia: I don’t use the word ‘serendipity’, but I saw it as a kid and loved it – and now I have a poster and a pillow with the word on it in my room – even though I’ve never used it in real life!

Favourite quote
Mattia: “I’m not superstitious – I’m a little stitious” – Michael Scott (The Office). That’s also on a poster in my room!
Lauren: It’s ALSO a Michael Scott quote! It’s from an episode where he’s asked if he’d rather be feared or loved, and says “both! I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”

If you could spend a day in someone else’s shoes who would it be and why?
Mattia: My older brother – he’s in med school, and the stories he tells me make me think I’d love to be present there, just to see what’s going on and what he does!
Lauren: There’s a lady named Elyn Saks whose TED Talk I just watched, and she has schizophrenia. She talked a lot about her experiences. I think that as much as we learn about these kinds of disorders, and how they manifest, I’m not really interested in the symptoms so much as I’m interested in the lived experience. So I’d be really curious to know what it’s like to live a day in her life.

If you could become an expert at something outside psychology, what would it be?
Mattia: As a kid I really wanted to be a marine biologist because I loved the ocean…so something involving the ocean…which is really broad but I’d love it!
Lauren: Cooking! I’m a terrible cook, but I would love to be a food connoisseur expert instead of a Kraft-Dinner-loving boring cook.

As we are speaking, Lauren is working with Mattia on applying to a grad school within the next couple of weeks. They connected most recently yesterday, when Lauren provided a list of schools, programs, and deadlines to simplify the process. Mattia has been looking over those options for the past 24 hours, and says “I don’t think I could ever have got here on my own”. It’s not immediately obvious for students finishing up their undergrad what the next steps entail, and where to look for that information. This is one of the reasons a mentor comes in extremely handy!

Says Lauren, “I think the value of mentorship is immeasurable, when you think about the amount of information that’s out there.”

She also says that she and Mattia ended up being a great match because their interests are so aligned. “I remember being in her position, not knowing what I was going to do. I actually ended up going to art school before I ever did psychology because I was just so confused. And even when I knew what I wanted, there was still an enormous amount of information to wade through. I feel like my experience as an undergraduate, in grad school, and even up to today has been a huge amount of Google. It’s a research mission at every step, where you don’t really have a good idea of what’s out there until you’ve been there.”

Mattia says, “Lauren’s the person I lean on when I’m overwhelmed – just letting her know that I’m having trouble with this whole COVID online thing. With my profs we can’t really talk one-on-one about how school’s going, so it’s nice to have Lauren there to let her know how I’m feeling, and it’s nice to know she feels the same way too, that I’m not the only one in this world going through this.”

It would be nice if they could lean on one another in person. But few CPA mentors and mentees actually meet during their mentorship – most are at different schools, so the mentorship tended to happen virtually even before COVID. For these two, this Zoom meeting, with some guy from the CPA, while they happen to be in the same province might be the closest they ever come to actually meeting one another. But their shared experiences, and their shared interests, and their passion for their chosen field makes it certain that they will run in the same circles for a long time to come.