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Former Liberty Valley Champ close to getting Ph.D.

Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune File Photo

Stephanie Liuba (left of plaque) and the rest of the 2010 Liberty Hawks celebrate winning the Central Section championship on a rainy night in San Luis Obispo over Mission Prep.


In her last contested soccer match, Stephanie Liuba helped the Liberty Hawks win their second Central Section championship, besting Mission Prep in San Luis Obispo in 2010.

“I ended my soccer career winning a Valley Championship in San Luis Obispo,” she said.

Since then, Liuba is still in school, but she is close to saying she doesn’t have to go to school any longer.

Liuba, who was a 2010 All-League sweeper with the Hawks, graduated from Fresno Pacific in 2014 with a bachelor’s in psychology. She graduated from California School of Professional Psychology, a psychology graduate school in Fresno out of Alliant International University, in 2016 with a master’s in clinical counseling. Finally, in 2021, she will get her Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

“After that, I’m done forever with school,” she said. “I hope to continue working in student health. I want to teach. I have been doing research for the community. Honestly, when I was an undergrad, I did not want to do research. I thought it was n lonesome, independent activity people did to read. Research is the opposite. We work with so many people and working with a team. I love coming up with an idea and sharing it with a group. I’ve been having so much fun with my field. Life has been so good since I graduated.”

Liuba will finish her schooling at Fresno City College after she was at Fresno State for three years.

“My program has an academic requirement where I meet the course requirements,” she said. “To complete my Ph.D., I have to do a pre-doctoral internship. It’s 1,500 hours. I’m doing that at Fresno City College. When I graduate, I will have a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, but I won’t be a clinical psychologist, yet. I have to take the state license board exam. For the next year, I will be studying for that. It’s a really tedious and hard exam. All I’m doing at Fresno City is psychotherapy. I will do psychological evaluations so I will have time to prep for this exam.”

Liuba says it’s crazy to think that she is still in school more than 10 years after she graduated from Liberty. However, she knows that after this last part, she won’t have to take any more classes.

“It’s crazy because I’ll be in a restaurant and the waiters will ask what I will do and I tell them I’m in school and they’ll ask if I’m done,” she said. “I tell them I’m almost done. They say never say you’re not going back to school. I tell them there’s nothing left for me to do after this. I’ll be totally done after this. That’s a good feeling that I know I’ll be done. It’s been a great journey. There’s been a lot of self-growth through this program. You learn a lot about myself. I was able to fall in love in this program with my husband. There’s a lot of pros of cons. I felt isolated, at times. The work is tedious and I needed to commit to it so I had to sacrifice a lot of outings and events. In the end, I love what I do. I want to be a completely committed psychologist for my community.”

Liuba married John Tiedemann in October last year.

“My husband grew up one block away from Mission Prep,” she said. “That is like the best mic drop ever.”

Although Liuba has spent the last 10 years in the classroom or working for her various titles, she knew what she was getting into from the start.

“During course orientation, they give you a course layout of what your life will look like in the next five years,” she said. “I looked at it and said I was so on board. The first thing they tell you is you can’t get a job. They are right because you’re going to school for 20-30 hours a week. Not only that, but you have to do another 20-30 hours of work a week. It was about 50 hours a week dedicated to school so there’s no time for work. They did a good job to prepare us for that. Of course, you’ve never worked more than 40 hours a week, but now you’re being pushed to this. It was a super hard transition. I had really good support. If I ever felt like I was getting burnt out, because I had those days, I ended up being creative with self-care. I went to a gym, went to a yoga class or went to dinner with my family and husband. I utilized my support system tremendously and that really helped get me through this program.”

Liuba’s LHS graduating class would have been celebrating its 10-year reunion at Birdstone Winery in September, but she doesn’t think it will happen. She remembers her high school days vividly.

“I think it doesn’t feel that long because I still see my high school friends all the time,” she said. “Maybe five years ago, it felt like I just graduated high school. I can remember high school graduation and sober grad like it was yesterday. High school is a very monumental period. It’s definitely a time for identity development.”

Liuba said she was ready to go to college when she graduated from Liberty and she already knew what she wanted to study.

“I was ready to transition from high school to college,” she said. “I knew I was going to be in the master’s program. I just didn’t know where and when. I thought I would take a break. I don’t think I trusted myself to take a year off. I think I would have done more than one year. I went full force. A lot of people take breaks. I applaud those people because they end up getting back on track. I just didn’t trust myself. I feel like when you’re a learner, you have momentum to learn and I was in it. I was so eager my first two years. It was like kindergarten. Once I settled into my field and saw patients, it became super serious and super professional. It’s just a part of me. I don’t see it as going to school as a bore or a drag. I learn something new everyday. I’m just very blessed for the opportunity.”

She uses skills she learned while playing soccer. Whether it was to be at practice four days a week or being able to analyze what she saw on the field, she still uses those traits in her psychological field.

“Practice was four days a week,” she said. “There were no questions about it. There were no forced feelings. It was based on habit. With school work, it was like the same thing. When something becomes a part of you with repetition, there’s no adversity or challenges, even when I was transition into a full-time student. The work I put into soccer was very natural for me. I didn’t have any issues with it. My cohort and I imagine ourselves like a team. We were very much like a team and I was used to that playing at Liberty and Madera Red Stars for so long. The reason I chose this specific program was that it was hands-on. I just learn better being around people. Just like you have to learn practices, I learn better with people. I believe soccer had a huge part of that. There are days where you feel like a leader or days to follow. That’s exactly what I felt on the soccer field. You have to be prepared for both. Soccer gave me the opportunity to be strong in those fields.”

What made Liuba stand out from other soccer players was her ability to get plays started. While the main job as a sweeper is to prevent the other team to attack the goal. However, while Liuba was exceptional at that task, the thing that set her apart was her ability to start the counterattack. She had the vision to see the field and send a pinpoint pass halfway up the field to set up the offense.

“In my field, I’m super observant and I analyze everything,” she said. “I imagine when I was playing sweeper, I literally played the play in my head before I did it. That’s just what I do now. I will say something in my head before I tell the patient just to make sure it sounds right. I see that sweeper as a safety net. I do really well with no pressure. I thrilled at being the last line.”

With her schooling almost done, Liuba is ready for life with a doctorate.

“I look back at my high school years and can’t believe some of the stuff I did or said. I was just living,” she said. “You really start to mature and know yourself during the undergrad years. I really excelled in grad school and figured out who I was and what I liked and didn’t like. I feel like I can accomplish so much more. I don’t feel like I have anything holding me back.”


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