Rachel LeGrand

M.A. in Counseling, specialization in School Counseling

What is your current position?

School Counselor

How does your masters degree help you in your current professional role?

My degree and my program provided me with more than I could imagine. My program honed the natural abilities I had, gave me an incredible support network, and prepared me as much as possible for the craziness of working as a school counselor.

Tell us about any internships, graduate assistantships, student teaching, practicum or fieldwork you did through SOLES.

During my second year I completed my fieldwork at College Preparatory Middle School, as well as a position at Montgomery Middle School in Linda Vista. These various positions helped me to further develop my role as a “helper”, strengthen my counseling abilities, and prepared me for the stress and workload of a full-time counseling position. I made great connections with my supervisors and fellow co-workers, as well as connections within the San Diego community that I still utilize.

How did you complete your international experience?

I went to Costa Rica with members of my cohort and my professor, Dr. Ian Martin for our Career Counseling class.

How has your SOLES education impacted your career and/or career goals?

I’ve always been a service-focused individual, so SOLES was a natural fit. All of the programs are aimed at improving our world and serving our communities, so I felt at home with my goals and intentions. The SOLES education is the reason why I have my job now.

Which class impacted you the most?

The skills learned in my pre-practicum class are the skills I use most often as a school counselor and in my day-to-day life. Learning how to genuinely listen to someone and validate their feelings is a skill that always takes practice, but when it’s done well, it can make a huge impact.

Are there specific SOLES faculty, staff or administrators you feel have contributed significantly to your success?

Dr. Ian Martin, Dr. Erika Cameron, and Peggy Hetherington all made a huge impact on my SOLES journey, as well as preparing me for my current career as a school counselor. Each one helped me grow in different ways and taught me different lessons. My SOLES journey would not have been what it was without them.

Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective students?

SOLES is an incredible place! Like everything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. If you take advantage of everything SOLES has to offer, you will receive benefits to last a lifetime.

The following responses are from Rachel's archived student profile, completed during her final year in the School Counseling program.

Why did you choose the field of School Counseling?

I want to become a school counselor because I have a desire to help people and I'm passionate about education. School counseling is the perfect union for me.

Why did you choose SOLES?

I heard about SOLES through the USD website. I chose to enroll after my interview. I loved the intimacy of the programs and the dedication of the faculty. The beautiful setting was also a nice plus!

Tell us about your field experiences through SOLES.

My practicum placement was at Springall Academy, which is a non-public school for children and adolescents with emotional/behavioral disorders and learning disabilities. It was an awesome, yet challenging, experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone and strengthened my confidence in my abilities as a counselor.

I am currently in my fieldwork and I am serving at College Preparatory Middle School in La Mesa. It is an incredible school! It is a very small school with less than 200 students and only 11 teachers. There is no school counselor on site, so I am busy trying to develop a program that fits the needs of the school. The teachers and administrators are so passionate about the children and families they work with.

Have you completed an international experience?

I went to Costa Rica in Summer 2012 with Dr. Ian Martin and 11 other students in the School Counseling Program. It was an amazing experience! Dr. Martin led our class in Career Development Across the Lifespan. We also took a Spanish immersion program, went hiking, visited an eco-farm, went white-water rafting, visited a national park, and assisted a local elementary school.

Which class impacted you the most?

My Multicultural Counseling class taught by Dr. Erika Cameron was an incredible experience. Professionally, it was so helpful to learn more about interacting with different cultures and populations. Personally, it made me think about the ways in which I view cultures and my relationship to different cultures. The class was challenging, but very rewarding.

Are there specific SOLES faculty and administrators that you feel have contributed to your success?

Dr. Erika Cameron is a professor that I have learned so much from. She is a great resource and person to ask questions, as well as an excellent educator. Peggy Hetherington is one of my favorite people that I have met through my experience at USD so far. She is always ready to help the students. She does a great job of working with us to determine the best possible placements for us. I have had some incredible experiences and opportunities, and Peggy has been the person who has helped me find them. Dr. Ian Martin is my adviser and I feel so fortunate because I feel like he always has my best interests in mind. He is easy to talk to and bounce ideas off of. He is truly passionate about what he does and it's so evident in his actions. I know that I will continue to stay in touch with Dr. Martin long after I graduate from USD.

What are your plans for after graduation?

After I graduate, I want to find a job where I can use my counseling skills to help children and/or families! I'm open to the setting, whether it be non-profit, school, medical, or social services agency. My dream job is one where I feel useful and I am able to help people as much as I can.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

My biggest piece of advice is to take full advantage of every opportunity offered to you! Read all the emails that are sent you before you hit delete. I have found a job and an awesome volunteer opportunity through the mass emails that are sent out. Don't bite off more than you can chew, but don't limit yourself because you're afraid of being busy. Graduate school is a time to develop yourself to the best of your abilities. I'm incredibly busy, but I love everything that I do and I know that it will benefit me, both personally and professionally.