Hometown: Broad Run, Va.
Educational Background: Bachelor of Science in Biology, Westminster College - initially pre-Physical Therapy
Career Background: After earning my undergraduate degree, I worked for two years as a residence director and assistant track coach at Westminster.
Specialization/Concentration: Individualized study to prepare for a career counseling college students
Honors and Awards Earned at Arcadia: The Ellington Beavers Award for Intellectual Inquiry, given for student research that best exemplifies the substantial intellectual inquiry inherent in good research; the Molly Haas Valentine Award, given each year to a graduating student completing a graduate degree with distinction, whose dedication to his or her studies has required extraordinary determination to overcome obstacles in the pursuit of excellence; and induction into Psi Chi, The International Psychology Honor Society.
Why Arcadia? I originally wanted to go to school for physical therapy, and after discovering my interest in counseling, I revamped my graduate program search. I remembered from my undergraduate college search how impressed I had been with Arcadia, and because I also recalled Arcadia’s wonderful PT program, I decided to look into its counseling program to see what it offered.
Initially I was torn between other programs to which I had applied and been accepted, but I kept coming back to Arcadia. I kept thinking about the type of counselor I wanted to be and how I needed to be trained to reach different types of people. It was the interview I had with Dr. Eleonora Bartoli that sold me on coming here. When she finished talking about the program’s multicultural emphasis, small class sizes, and faculty mentoring, I knew Arcadia’s counseling program would be the best fit for my personal and professional goals.
What have been some key experiences during your time at Arcadia? Arcadia has definitely surpassed my expectations. I wanted to be challenged and be in a place where I could grow, and Arcadia definitely allowed me to accomplish those things and then some. The feedback I received throughout the program allowed me to push myself even further.
A graduate assistantship in Arcadia’s Office of Student Engagement allowed me to continue working with the college student population while earning my counseling credentials. The experience I received in and outside of the classroom at Arcadia gave me the tools I needed to intern in a college counseling center at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va.
Also, the fact I was even able to relocate to Virginia after living apart from my husband for a year is because counseling psychology faculty and staff were willing to cross state lines to facilitate and help me navigate the program so that it worked for me. Dr. Angela Gillem traveled all the way to Virginia to conduct the site visit for my internship. They were even a great support for my husband and I when I got sick unexpectedly during the last year of my program and had to be hospitalized. Dr. Gillem returned to Virginia to visit me while I was in rehab. I totally did not expect that.
One of the key things I learned in the program is that to be a good counselor you need to take care of yourself; if I’m not in a good place myself, I would be ill-equipped to help others. I was able to apply that immediately when I got sick. I got my own counselor after I was released from the hospital and so did my husband, as he was dealing with a lot, too.
Research: I am a member of the American College Association, and I received an email that they were accepting proposals for their conference. Out of curiosity only I went to Dr. Bartoli to ask, “What does a proposal look like, and what would it look like to submit one of these?” That was it. However, I left with a list of things to do instead of just an answer to my question!
When I read the email I had kind of been thinking about my experience in Residence Life on a small campus and how a lot of times the resources aren’t there as far as diversity in student life. There’s only one person on campus and he or she is in charge of all types of diversity, not just LGBTQ resources. If you look at some of the bigger campuses like Penn State, they have a whole building just for that community. So I know that the resources aren’t there to train resident assistants for incidents in the residence hall, even though these incidents are happening with the same frequency on smaller campuses just as they are on larger campuses. So I had a loose idea when I went to Dr. Bartoli, and she gave me a list of ideas on how to tweak it and create a proposal. From a proposal it turned into a project, with Dr. Bartoli suggesting that I come up with a module-based training; from that it turned into, “Well, we can test the training and try to submit a paper with data attached to it.” So, with Dr. Bartoli’s guidance and motivation, it kept morphing into new things. Then I won the Ellington Beavers Award and I was able to take it even further, as we tested two of the five modules at a small college campus near Pittsburgh. The award allowed us to travel, make copies, and run two of the modules with pre- and post- assessment.
Career Goal: To work on a college campus as a counselor. Thankfully, my internship as a counselor at Shenandoah will become a full-time paid position after I graduate from Arcadia! Licensure takes a few years after graduation, so I will be working on that. I also plan to add graduate certificates in addiction and also in animal assisted therapy, since that was something that really helped me when I was hospitalized.