Alumni Spotlight: Anthony Morales '07 MA, Counseling
What brought you to the MA program at SOLES?
In my search for a graduate program, I was looking for a university that fit my goals and made me feel comfortable. I was accepted to other programs and visited the campuses. But, it wasn't until I came to USD, visited with faculty, and saw how beautiful the university was that I knew that USD was where I was supposed to be.
Tell us about your journey post graduation. What kept you motivated to stay in your profession?
Since graduating from USD, I have had many great professional opportunities. But, honestly, my journey was not at all how I planned. Right after graduation, I did not find a School Counseling position in California, as I had hoped. So, I decided to move back home to Colorado to be closer to family.
While in Colorado, I found a great position as a School Therapist with The Center for Mental Health. I provided counseling services to K-12 students, focusing on academic and social/emotional goals by practicing individual, group, and intervention therapy models. After two years in Colorado, I returned back to San Diego with my wife and pursued other opportunities in higher education.
For a little over 4 years, I was an Academic Advisor in a university setting. I advised undergraduate and graduate students on the development of individual learning outcomes based on their skills, goals, responsibilities and experiences. I was also responsible for articulation, retention and recruitment services of undergraduate students. In my role as an Academic Advisor, I had the opportunity to work with a variety of students, such as adult learners, international, active military, and veterans and to work in a variety of locations, such as military bases and community colleges.
Although, I was fortunate to have these great professional experiences in mental health, higher education, and military settings, I was always motivated to get back to my true profession of school counseling. In 2015, I found my current position of School Counselor with Keiller Leadership Academy, which coincidentally was the site of my action research project at USD! It has been a wonderful and validating experience to be in a career in which I completed my degree and credential. It has been a long journey to get to where I am today, but I am thankful for all the experience and knowledge that I have gained along the way.
How have you applied leadership practices into your professional life?
Along with being current in professional organizations, such as American School Counseling Association (ASCA) and National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), I make an effort to take advantage of leadership opportunities in any position that I have. In my current position, I am lead for our Student Study Team (SST), educating teachers and parents of the process for student support services and constantly developing best practices. Also, this year, I have developed and coordinated our first year of Peace Patrol, a conflict resolution training, allowing 4th and 5th-grade students to be role models and assist other students in peaceful problem-solving. I think leadership can be practiced in any setting. It does not necessarily mean that you have to hold a high-ranking role in a professional organization, but that you are able to be the one to take the lead when you are needed.
What is your fondest memory of USD?
By far, the fondest memory of USD is meeting my wife. We both worked together at the Center for Community Service (CSL) during my graduate program.
What is your favorite place on campus, why?
My favorite place on campus is behind the Joan B Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, by the Casa de La Paz. There is a spot there on the edge of the hill, where you can stand and just see everything. It is an awesome view. That is the spot where I made my decision that USD was the place I was supposed to be.
Who was your favorite USD professor or class?
My favorite professor at USD was Dr. Lonnie Rowell. I always enjoyed talking with him and learning as much as I could. It was a great experience working with him at Keiller Leadership Academy for our action research project and then attending the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference in Chicago to present our findings. He is so passionate about what he does and to better the profession. He was a wonderful professor and is a great mentor to all his students.
How have you remained involved with USD since graduation?
My wife and I have attended a few of the Alumni events in past 2 years. We love visiting the campus; seeing how much things have changed and stayed the same.
If you could offer a current USD student advice, what would it be?
My advice to current USD students is to not be afraid if things don't go the way that you had planned. Life may take you by surprise and show you things that you did not even know you would be good at or enjoy. It may even change the way you see the world. The trick is not to panic when things don't follow the plan. Stay calm, go along for the ride, but always be true to what you really want and eventually you will find it.
Would you like to be a future SOLES Alumni Spotlight?
Submit your own answers to the questions above, along with a photo, to firstname.lastname@example.org.