MA Counseling, specialization in School Counseling with Pupil Personnel Services Credential
Previous education and/or work experience
I completed my undergraduate degree at a small liberal arts college, Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, with a double major in English and psychology. I then worked at Oregon Health & Science University in a behavioral neuroscience lab that studies typical and atypical developmental brain trajectories, like attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorders. This one-on-one experience with kids peaked my interest in working on a close, personal level with students and young learners.
Current program of study (and area of specialization, if applicable)
I am currently working on the Pupil Personnel Services Credential with Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) eligibility, for 63 units. One of the elements that drew me to SOLES, and this program specifically, was the option to pursue both the PPS credential for working in schools and the LPCC for other types of clinical opportunities that may require licensure. With the help of Dr. Estrada and Dr. Garland, we were able to cultivate a program and course schedule that would satisfy the pieces needed to capture the learning of both programs.
What do you hope to do with your degree and/or credential after graduation?
After graduation I hope to find employment in a school or clinical setting where I can begin my career as a professional counselor. I am currently interested in working with middle school to adolescents to young adult clients.
How did you hear about SOLES, and why did you choose to enroll?
I focused my graduate school search on small programs on the west coast, mainly in California, as I have lived in Washington and Oregon for many years. I was attracted to USD for a few reasons including its strong reputation, small student-to-faulty ratio, and the opportunities for graduate students to work directly with faculty on research questions, projects, and have access to their connections within the greater San Diego community.
Are you currently working? If so, do you work full-time or part-time, and what do you do?
Yes, I am currently working part-time at the San Diego Center for Autism and Related Disorders as a behavior therapist. I also babysit for a couple families here and there to help supplement my income.
Tell us about any internships, graduate assistantships, student teaching, practicum or fieldwork you have done through SOLES. Where did you work, what did you do, and how did it impact you?
In the school counseling program, students begin their practicum experiences in the second semester of their first year in the program. I was lucky to be placed at PRIDE Academy, a K-8 school in Santee which is a smaller town just east of San Diego. The support I had from their school counselor, Ed Gigliotti, was incredible. He was welcoming, encouraging and went above and beyond to make sure his small group of practicum students were acclimating to the community of the school, as we began counseling our first few students. Another opportunity I have had in getting involved at USD is through Chi Sigma Iota, an international counseling academic and professional honor society through the USD Chapter, Sigma Delta as the first year representative for School Counseling. CSI sponsors monthly social and educational activities for all our graduate counseling students. Events include Welcome Back Fall Happy Hour, Fall Wellness and Self-Care, and social awareness walks, for example the NAMI walk in the spring. As co-president for 2014-2015, I am excited to have a larger role in the vision and planning of CSI during this academic year.
Which class or classes have impacted you the most?
My favorite class so far was counseling skills with adjunct professor Gina Bongiorno. Gina’s experience and practical approach to our class was beautifully executed and invaluable to my learning. She created a climate within the room that pushed the boundaries of learning such that I left feeling in awe of what took place during the three hours of class. It is sort of indescribable, this feeling. Another favorite course was group counseling with Dr. Rene Molenkamp, a world-class consultant on leading groups and group dynamics. Dr. Molenkamp taught this course in a workshop style that convened over two long weekends during the semester. This is another class wherein it is difficult to articulate the richness of the experience and learning that took place. I’ll say that the rigor is not only academic, but also a personal, intimate journey that asks for a sizable amount of self-reflection.
Are there any specific SOLES faculty, staff or administrators you feel have contributed significantly to your success? How have they helped?
Again I would like to mention Dr. Estrada and Dr. Garland for their support as we navigated the path of creating the 63-unit program that satisfies both the school counseling requirements and creates space for LPCC eligibility. While this path is somewhat still in-the-making, I have enjoyed being a small part of its vision and conception, as a student advocate for option to pursue the PPS credential with LPCC eligibility. Peggy Hetherington plays a huge role in matching students with practicum and fieldwork sites. Peggy is so warm and friendly and does a fantastic job of helping students plan and organize these important site placements.
Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective students?
One of the things I like about the counseling programs at USD is that they invite students to dig deeper into their own identity and articulate the value and uniqueness that we each bring to the table. This process can be done with varying levels of commitment and patience. I think that is a theme for the program as a whole, I think it is up to the student to put in what they hope to get back.