Wow! It’s hard to believe that I have officially completed my Masters degree! Two and half years of hard work and graduate school is a wrap!
That being said, this is also my very last blog post 🙁
I don’t even know where to begin in talking about all of the things I truly love about Canisius.
I actually found Canisius pretty randomly. My high school counselor went here and when I decided to pursue a Masters in school counseling, I looked at her Facebook page and saw that she attended Canisius. I did very little research on the school and decided to apply about a week before I walked at my undergraduate commencement. I said my prayers and sent in my application, and about six weeks later I was accepted! My mother was the one to inform me of the news over the phone when she called and as soon as she read my acceptance letter, I said to myself: “You’re really moving to Buffalo.” Little did I know, this decision would be the most life changing choice I have made.
Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to speak to TWO students who are attending Canisius next year. One graduate student coming to the school counseling program and one high school student in one of the classes I coteach who is attending Canisius in the fall for business. The graduate student I saw seemed very excited and enthusiastic about starting her new experience. The high school student’s face lit up when he talked about starting at Canisius. I loved telling both incoming students how much I love Canisius and they seemed very appreciative of the fact that I spoke highly of the college. I found myself getting a little emotional at the thought of knowing that I will not be a student there anymore. I love having these experiences to share my love for learning, Buffalo, and Canisius with potential and incoming students. They have so much fire in their eyes and I know they want to be successful at Canisius.
At Canisius, I have had the opportunity to be in the presence of such inspirational people throughout the past few years. From positive professors and mentors to and encouraging college personnel, my life has been forever changed.
The Canisius counseling program has taught me to make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning and growing. This started in my practicum and internship experiences. As I was practicing my skills and actually making mistakes, that is how I was LEARNING.
This program has taught me to extend myself and step outside of my comfort zone to open myself to novel experiences. I have done this in professional, social, and personal aspects of my life. I understand the importance and the value in engaging in experiences that may make me feel a little uncomfortable. Throughout my time at Canisius, I have been a part of various experiences that I never ever would have had the courage or mind-set to do had it not been for my experiences at Canisius College.
I have recently been offered a job in Florida, and I am considering making this my step in my career. I think I had a I not been through this program, I never would have grown in to the woman I am today. I am so very thankful for the many experiences that Canisius has offered me to grow and learn both as a student but as a person.
Being a student blogger for the program has allowed me to represent Canisius as a student and as an individual. I have reflected on myself, my counseling skills, and my positive (and negative) experiences through my blog. I have met people and read about their own students at Canisius that I never would have done if I hadn’t blogged for my program. I remember when I received an email asking me to join the team and I was so excited to represent my college.
If you’re reading this as a potential graduate student, this is me telling you to GO FOR IT! Whether it be counseling, education, or any other program, Canisius is a great environment to learn and grow. If you’re still a student, keep soaking up Canisius. Graduation will come and you will look back and realize WHO you are.
Be who you are becoming.
Peace and love.
So why did I apply to Canisius? Well there is quite a bit of history to go through to understand the answer to this question but the TL:DR (too long, didn’t read) version is that Canisius was in the perfect place at the perfect time. Allow me to explain.
After graduating from Ball State University back in my home state of Indiana, I was lost. I had switched to majoring in psychology fairly late in my college career, necessitating an extra year, but this change still left me way too busy to do more than contemplate graduate school. Beyond being busy, I also wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to grad school. I felt like my years were slipping away from me as I spent year after year digging myself further into debt by drudging away at school instead of contributing to society and “living my life.” I needed a couple of friends to point out that going to school was still living my life, but at this time I still felt that my life was on hold until I had a job to define and validate my existence.
So I did what any good Christian would do. I prayed as intensely as I could for God to show me which path would be better for me; going to grad school or working right away. But I heard little in the way of divine direction, so I proceeded on making my decision. I could start work as a case manager in my small town in Indiana, stay home with my parents, work to pay off my loans and try to save money, and then…. I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t see any further from there. I could stay in Indiana and work until I retired as a case manager, but I felt that I would be better as a mental health counselor. Unfortunately that required grad school. I also didn’t want to stay in Indiana forever; there is a big world out there to see and live in. I also realized that if I planed to move to a different state, then working for a year or longer in Indiana would mean putting my life on hold in a way. The friendships that I would develop in Indiana wouldn’t transfer across the country and so I would be cultivating dead-end relationships, so to speak. Eventually I decided that grad school would be the best opportunity for me.
Now I had to decide which school. Luckily I have an uncle who is a mental health counselor so he gave me some great career advice. He told me to seek out a school that was CACREP accredited. That stands for Council of Accreditation for Counseling and Related Education Programs, which basically is the gold standard for counseling programs. Going to a school affiliated with this association would increase my job eligibility. So I began searching all across the country for schools that had programs that were CACREP accredited. I eventually applied and was accepted to Colorado Christian University in Denver Colorado.
But wait, you say, that’s not Canisius! We’re getting there, trust me. So I started taking classes online at this school for the fall semester so that I would have more time and money to actually move to Denver. However, the more I researched the school and area, the more I was actually dreading moving there. I didn’t think that I would like the sunny, arid weather, or the conservative Christian bent of the school. At the same time I was starting to fantasize about living in historical, cozy city with extensive cloud cover and frequent rain. No joke, that was where I wanted to live. Anyway, as the fall semester ended I received an email from the admissions personnel, which stated that not enough people applied to start in the spring semester like me, so they were going to delay my start until next fall. I would have to move all the way out to Denver to take some in-person electives and then finally start the program in the next fall. As you can imagine after all that talk about wanting to start my life and contribute to society, I rejected this offer and withdrew myself from that school.
Now I have no school and Christmas break is nearly upon me. So I searched for CACREP schools in cities that fit what I was looking for. I quickly found Canisius in Buffalo, NY and immediately fell in love. Canisius was my academic savior. I applied and was accepted within less than two weeks of my application. I was overjoyed to live in the city of Buffalo and go to this school that would accept me in the spring and still met all of my criteria for a stellar counseling program.
I have never looked back, except to say how lucky I am that this wonderful school was in the exact right place at the exact right time. I love my program, I love living in Buffalo, and most of all, I am learning a great deal to contribute to society both now and when I graduate.
BOY, has it been a LONG, yet exciting week! As I have mentioned previously, in addition to my school counseling internship, I am a substitute teacher. I am constantly dealing with the disrespect of students in the classroom. I handle situations accordingly and because of my experiences in the classroom, I am able to confidently deal with students. HOWEVER, this week both in teaching and counseling, I was given two situations that I managed, but was challenged by.
On Wednesday, I was in a session with a student, my supervisor, and a classroom teacher. The student became angry and was swearing, blaming all staff in the session for an academic issue she was having. She was continuously looking at ME and raising her voice at ME. I finally had to explain to her that she was acting inappropriately to myself, the teacher, and my supervisor. I was very direct with her in a way that shocked every one in the room. I explained to her that I was not going to tolerate her talking to me the way she was and that she was blaming others for her own issues and she was not receptive of the support she was being provided. As uneasy as I was with this session, I was told that I had done a great job handling the unexpected situation. After the session, I had a hard time calming down. I had never been put in a situation like that as counselor. As a counselor, we are to be nurturing and therapeutic to students. But I knew that being directive to this student was appropriate and necessary. I DIDN’T LEARN THIS IN GRADUATE SCHOOL! I am however glad that I learned it in internship!
On Thursday, I worked in a 3rd grade special education classroom. SHOULD have been a piece of cake. But was NOT. I was asked to “take a walk” with an angry student. Alright. As I walk into the hall with this boy, he begins to yell, swear, and make mean comments to a passing teacher. He then runs into the main office and begins to throw objects on the floor, rip papers, and hit computers. This behavior continued throughout the day. As a substitute teacher, only having worked with this student briefly once before. I had NO idea what to do. I instantly referred back to my experience working with children with disabilities but without knowing this child, I really couldn’t do anything except try to maintain safety for those around him and seek assistance from those around me. While this situation was not ideal, a great deal of collaboration and teamwork made this manageable for everyone involved.
I was CHALLENGED this week, but I grew professionally. In the classroom or as a school counselor, I am going to be given challenging students in various situations and sometimes being directive is okay.
Many lessons were learned this week. HOWEVER. It’s Friday. Time to “relax” and write research papers!
Be well, Griffs!