College of Arts and Sciences

Counseling Alumni Reflections

Beth Cahill ’13M

Mental Health Counseling

Associate Director, Career Counseling & Industry Advising, Villanova University Career Center

For me, becoming a career counselor was always the goal in pursuing a counseling career. When I graduated from college, I struggled to find my place in the world, and it was an experience fraught with anxiety and self-doubt. I knew that I wanted to help emerging young professionals to find a rewarding and meaningful place in the world without stress and fear. Each day I get to empower Villanova students and alumni to embody their strengths and discover their path.

Arcadia’s program was especially attractive to me because of the strong focus on multicultural competence and an eclectic counseling approach. Every person has a unique story to tell and this program gave me the tools to develop person-centered, individualized approaches to each case and each client.

I cannot say enough about the professional and personal impact that my professors had on my growth and development throughout this program. Dr. Bartoli and Dr. Gillem helped me to become a confident counselor with a strong multicultural competence and inspired me to bring this into my work at Villanova. I work closely with underrepresented and first-generation students on campus and coordinate workshops with our Office of Multicultural Affairs to provide counseling support and resources to these students.

The most memorable lesson I learned from Arcadia’s counseling program is the power of community. Although my counseling work is of a different focus from most of my peers from the program, I still feel 100% comfortable reaching out to former classmates and professors whenever I have a question or need help with a resource. They are always there to support me and I happily do the same. Developing a network of allies is something that I promote in my career counseling work and personally live every day.

Rebecca Cate ’14M, MPH

Dual Masters in Counseling Psychology and Public Health
Selected as a Speaker for 2014 Graduate Commencement

I chose to attend Arcadia's counseling program because of the dual degree program. I was seeking the skills to facilitate change to improve others' overall health and well-being. I also wanted to develop skills, such as program planning and grant writing.

Drs. Bartoli, Gillem, and Morrow were pivotal in my growth to become an effective counselor. They modeled the qualities needed to develop a therapeutic alliance: genuine positive regard, empathy, and collaboration, to name a few.

The most memorable lesson learned in the program was developing self-awareness.  I believe the program approached this in a variety of ways, including written assignments, role plays, and constructive and practical feedback.  Upon entering the field, I learned how important understanding myself and my experiences are when establishing relationships with clients.  

Kathy Christensen ’12M

School Counseling / Completed Advanced Counseling Certificate in 2015 for Mental Health Counseling
School-Based Clinical Specialist, Intercommunity Action, Inc.,

This is my second career, or third, if you count full-time motherhood. I knew I wanted to become a therapist, and when the timing was right, I returned to graduate school to pursue that dream.

I was evaluating programs and Arcadia's was near the top of the list for the strength of its counseling program, proximity to my home, ​and range of options in both school and community counseling. Then, while I was deciding where to apply, I happened to meet Dr. Bartoli while waiting with my child to be seen at the pediatrician's office. She was there with her daughter, who was around the age of my son. We struck up a conversation, she encouraged me to apply, and I knew after meeting her I would end up at Arcadia.

Arcadia prepared me by establishing a foundation of theoretical and technical knowledge on which to build my therapeutic skills; by giving me opportunities to practice those skills and obtain valuable feedback; by offering support and guidance, consistently (Carol Lyman is a true gem and unsung hero to our program!); and by providing mentors who encouraged me to expand my vision of my graduate school experience. 

My chosen field has much to do with Dr. Gillem and her instruction and guidance around cultural competence. Dr. Gillem encouraged me to turn a term paper into a more comprehensive manuscript to submit for publication in a professional journal, and her belief in me and my work led to a published article, as well as speaking opportunities at three industry conferences.

Christian Dozier ’13M, LPC

Child, Family and Relationship Counseling
Forensic Interview Specialist, Philadelphia Children's Alliance

I was drawn to Arcadia's Counseling program because of the curriculum, faculty, class size and support. The program had elements of multiculturalism, practicality and an array of learning topics. The faculty appeared to be invested in the success of their future scholars and had an open door policy that was utilized.

Dr. Gillem, Dr. Bartoli, and Dr. Morrow all impacted my experience at Arcadia. They are very brilliant and shared their knowledge in such a gracious fashion. Their perspectives allowed me to broaden my way of thinking and helped me reach further to succeed more than what I initially imagined. They all pushed me past my comfort zone in various ways. They challenged me and therefore made me a better version of myself.

My most memorable experience in the program was the role plays. Having the hands-on learning experience made me feel better prepared to join the workforce. 

Arcadia's program is superior to most: this is the comment I received from my practicum and internship supervisors. The skills I learned made me stand out as a counselor as seen in group supervisions and requested consultations by my supervisor. 

Kristen Hawk ’12

Mental Health Counseling
Counselor/Adjunct Professor at Arcadia University and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Pursuing a doctorate in Clinical Psychology at PCOM.

Before the interview process began, I thought I was certain where I wanted to go to graduate school. However, my experience interviewing at Arcadia changed everything. I left with intense certainty that I’d found the perfect fit to pursue my counseling education. The unmistakable level of enthusiasm and dedication that the faculty had for their students and how committed everyone seemed to providing a high quality, invaluable graduate school experience. I drove away from Arcadia convinced that this was the place that would provide me with all the tools and skills I needed to have a successful career, because I knew I would be both challenged and supported in my education.

The quality of the tutelage I received at Arcadia, both within and outside the classroom, is unparalleled. Faculty at Arcadia provided unwavering support and guidance, and my relationships with them is what shaped my life-changing experience in the graduate program. They never hesitated to provide extra assistance whenever needed beyond classroom instruction. This allowed for a unique, individualized experience that I am convinced is not a universal experience in graduate programs. The degree of passion, dedication, strength, and determination that the faculty in the program provided was instilled in me and now I am able to in turn provide it to my clients, my supervisees, and my advocacy work. The faculty have also remained a source of support and continue to be invaluable resources even after I graduated. This has been consistent in the years since I obtained my degree, so they have remained committed to helping me grow beyond my formal educational experience. Additionally, faculty supported and guided me in my pursuit to become an educator, which has allowed me to experience incredible professional opportunities beyond my counseling work.

Alexandra Mamolou ’14M

Mental Health and K-12 School Counseling
School Counselor at CORA Services and Part-Time Therapist at Mindful Stress and Anxiety Management Center of Philadelphia

I was a highly disengaged, unmotivated student from age 13-20. I did just enough schoolwork to get through middle and high school, and nothing extra. However, passing classes became increasingly harder to do as I progressed through higher levels of education and led to a point when I almost failed out of college. Fortunately, I happened to take a class on “Human Motivation and Emotion” which began to open my eyes to the factors that were depleting my motivation, which in turn helped me tap into a natural intrinsic motivation to learn. Energized with renewed academic enthusiasm, I quickly reformed my study habits. After graduating from college, (with over a 3.0 GPA to my surprise). I wanted to continue to study “humans” and hoped to be able to guide others to find more inspired learning as I had. Counseling seemed like a natural application of this interest.

I applied to five counseling master’s programs in the Philadelphia and New York City areas. Of the 5 programs, Arcadia was the only one that had a welcoming interview process and continued to be responsive throughout. I wanted a program that was going to be supportive and invested in my learning experience. Arcadia’s faculty and staff demonstrated that quality early on. I was very pleased to find out that the support did not cease at the end of the application process. To the contrary, it was strong throughout the program and beyond!

The most memorable lesson I learned from Arcadia’s counseling program was about my own potential, and by extension the potential of others. I had not realized it at the time, but previous years of disconnection from my education left me feeling pessimistic about my academic abilities. Additionally, I began the Counseling program with very little clinical experience and often felt unsure of my skills. But through abundant guidance and support from faculty, staff, and students around me, I achieved tremendous growth in confidence and skill. This experience helped me realize that with enough resources and support, individuals can continue to grow and learn skills to improve their lives.

Liz Widtfeldt ’13M

Child/Family and Trauma
Intake Coordinator, Outpatient Pediatric Psychiatry Children's Medical Center in Dallas, TX

When I was a freshman in college, my roommate died from cancer over winter break. Although I had only known her for a few months, her death impacted me greatly. I had experienced loss, but not of someone who was my age. I sought out counseling after a tumultuous semester at school. Throughout that process, I felt supported and able to cope, and this motivated me to seek a profession in counseling.

Choosing Arcadia is one of the best decisions I have made. During my interview, Dr. Bartoli displayed such passion and enthusiasm for the profession, and after meeting with her, I knew Arcadia was the right program for me. I felt the program would be challenging, but also supportive.

I will never forget Dr. Gillem's Cultural Bases of Counseling class. Her class inspired me to continue educating myself regarding my own privileges and how to be an ally to those who don't have the same privileges I have. I think of that class often and the wonderful, hard, beautiful conversations we had. Dr. Morrow introduced me to many family therapy models, which influenced by first career choice. I become a Functional Family Therapy (FFT) therapist right out of grad school, and Dr. Morrow’s reference helped me secure my first job! Carol Lyman was instrumental in getting me through those three years! She helped solve all my scheduling issues, reassured me when I was freaking out about internship placements, and was an all around cheerleader for my success. 

I met the greatest people through this program. Many of my former classmates are now close friends. We get together, talk and text regularly, and connect about our experiences in the counseling profession. It is so wonderful to have colleagues who can relate to the rewards and stresses of this field. 

Arcadia provided me with the tools to be successful in the field of counseling. Evidence-based practice, cultural competence, ethical practice, staying current on treatments and research, forming a professional network, self-reflection, license requirements; all of these things were taught and reinforced throughout the program. I joined the field with a strong sense of what my values are as a counselor, and I owe that to Arcadia's program.  

Jennifer Wiggins ’12M

Mental Health Counseling
Staff Clinician and Sexual Assault Specialist, Georgetown University

Through an undergraduate internship, I was exposed to the disparities in marginalized communities from a counseling and educational standpoint. Due to that experience, I knew that I wanted a program that would help foster within me the knowledge and skill set necessary to be impactful within a community setting.

I chose to attend Arcadia’s counseling program because of its commitment to developing competent clinicians, the overlap of faculty research interests with my personal interests, and the warm engagement with both faculty and staff that I had during the application phase.

During my time both within the program and since graduation, Dr. Gillem has always served as an inspiration for me. She has challenged me both on a personal level and as a clinician. She is a model of authenticity, and has always encouraged me to not limit myself.

At Arcadia, I learned the importance of self-care! Since being able to identify self-care as a challenge for myself, it has become something that I have made a priority in my journey. Additionally, it has become a central component of wellness initiatives that I promote within my current position.

The most significant way Arcadia prepared me for my career is the program’s emphasis on multicultural competencies. This deepened my understanding of how intersectional identities impact health and wellness. In understanding those components, it has allowed me to become an advocate for multicultural competencies within different frameworks in an effort to promote counseling and education with an inclusive design. 

Bethany Wentz ’18

Dual Degree IPCR/Counseling with Concentration in Trauma

I became interested in trauma and counseling as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I served as a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Volunteer in Ukraine from 2012 to 2014. Unfortunately, the experience was cut short when violence erupted in the capital of Ukraine and eventually spread to many other cities and towns in the country. The violence escalated to a civil war in eastern Ukraine, displacing over a million people. Watching this situation unfold solidified my interest in trauma, refugees, and internally displaced people.

The dual Counseling and International Peace and Conflict Resolution program at Arcadia is very unique—I haven’t seen a program like it anywhere else and it is a great combination for my interests. On top of that, the multicultural facet that threads through every counseling course is so valuable to me as an individual intending to work with people from all over the world.

I’ve found the multicultural labs to be a powerful component of the program. It is so crucial for us as counselors to be aware of our own biases and triggers, and the multicultural labs provide a nurturant environment for self-exploration.