It is hard to put into words how much Niagara University has done for me in the four years that I have been here. I came to this school from 3,000 miles away, a nontraditional student who didn’t know a soul. The NU community greeted me with open arms and made me feel a little less homesick. I found a second family with the staff at the library and with every single person I met and the professors who taught me. This university gives students more than just an education…it provides one with growth, opportunities, support, encouragement, and love.
As an undergraduate, I earned a bachelor’s degree in gerontology and psychology with a double minor in women’s studies and statistics. The 4+2 program in clinical mental health counseling allowed me to take a year of my master’s program during the senior year of my undergraduate studies, thus allowing me to complete my master’s more quickly.
As a master’s student graduating in May 2017 from the clinical mental health counseling program with honors, and as a circulation assistant at the NU library, I have been able to work with so many amazing people. Having the opportunity to work for the Niagara County Mental Health Association and co-chairing the Niagara County Suicide Prevention Coalition, I have been able to provide education, trainings and advocacy to this wonderful community. Being able to give back and live my life in the Vincentian way has helped me grow to become a better person and has opened up a world of possibilities.
During my graduate studies, I completed ½ year of practicum and 1 ½ years of internship experiences, allowing me to gain real-world knowledge and experience in the field in which I will be working. Because of this preparation, I have already landed a job in this very competitive professional marketplace.
The women’s studies program here taught me about the power of words and equality, forever changing the way I speak. Dr. (Shannon) Hodges taught me about the impact of not being influenced by personal emotions and the “baggage” we carry. Dr. (Kristine) Augustyniak taught me how to engage in reflective practices and self-care so that I can fully serve the needs of others. Dr. (Jennifer) Beebe challenged me to think deeper and share more of myself. And, of course, I may not have ever started this program without Dr. (Susan) Mason, who provided me with every opportunity for growth and discovery.
I could go on forever about the amazing people and professors at Niagara, but, hopefully, you will learn for yourself. If I could offer any advice for those starting out, it would be to make yourself known. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek guidance. Think outside of the box and continue to challenge yourself academically and personally because the possibilities are endless.