Judy Wai

MA Counseling, specialization in School Counseling with Pupil Personnel Services Credential

What is your background? For example, where are you from, where else have you earned a degree, and where have you worked?

I am from Saratoga, CA and received a BS in Community and Regional Development at the University of California, Davis. Throughout my undergraduate career, I have had the privilege of holding multiple leadership and management positions, such as working as a peer advisor for the University of California, Davis' Center for Student Involvement and teaching in international and local schools. I have also acted as a youth development training assistant for foster youth in Sacramento and as a facilitator in the Yolo County Neighborhood Court to address low level crimes through restorative justice concepts and community based solutions. 

How did you hear about SOLES, and why did you choose to enroll?

I first heard about SOLES after doing an internet search of the top counseling programs in California. USD showed up consistently and so I was intrigued and made the effort to visit during the open house event in January. Upon visiting the campus and meeting the student ambassadors and faculty, I was amazed and ecstatic to apply. I was captivated not only by how stunning the campus is, but how incredible the resources and opportunities provided to the students are. Students at SOLES will be provided with opportunities to learn from a hands-on and enriching curriculum, travel abroad and work on research with faculty. The professors listen and want to engage with their students. I have never felt more supported and motivated at a university than I have here. 

Are you currently working? If so, do you work full-time, part time, and what do you do?

I currently work part-time for Bayshore Preparatory Charter School K-12 as an instructional coach for the special education department. I meet with individual students in middle through high school to monitor, encourage and assist them in progressing academically and meeting their goals. 

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?

I am currently completing my practicum at the La Mesa Arts Academy in La Mesa, San Diego. The students enrolled are in the fourth through eighth grades and I am excited to further my capacity to counsel in group, individual and new counseling settings. 

Have you completed an international experience? What did you do?

I will complete my international experience by studying in Tokyo, Japan for nine days. This trip will be led by Dr. Erika Cameron and Dr. Ian Martin and is a part of the COUN 518: Organization of Student Support Systems course. I am very excited to visit various schools in Japan and to see how school counseling and educational services are provided in an international education system. 

Which class has impacted you the most? Why?

Although it has only been one semester, I already feel better prepared and advanced in my development as an aspiring professional school counselor. All of the courses I have taken so far have been enriching and impactful experiences. The professors at SOLES are a rarity. They are so passionate and genuine towards the work that they do and they put a lot of effort into making sure classes are a valuable experience for their students.  Three classes in particular would be Counseling Theories with Dr. George Vera, Counseling Skills with Gina Bongiorno, and Human Development with Dr. Erika Cameron. These three courses in particular have provided me with the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in the counseling field. Within the first semester of classes, I was challenged to move out of my comfort zone and become comfortable with death and grief counseling, suicide interventions, child abuse cases, and much more. I also learned how to apply various counseling theories in a session, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or solutions-focused brief therapy and learned about age populations that I initially did not expect to counsel, such as the elderly or new parents.

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

Becoming a part of the SOLES community is an exciting endeavor. The university provides its students with a variety of experiences and opportunities to explore and get involved. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to take advantage of the great resources surrounding you! Likewise, get to know your cohort. Reach out to them and get to know them! They will be your greatest support system.