I am a graduate of Syracuse University, where I majored in sociology with a minor in child and family studies. I loved everything about my program and being at Syracuse, but I didn't really consider at the time where this degree and lack of experience might take me in my career; turns out it was waiting tables at a local restaurant.
I spent the last few years in postgraduate limbo, taking a graduate course here and there to feel out different ideas, and monotonously serving the fine people of Buffalo brunch, lunch and dinner. I felt very stuck, and had no idea where to turn.
Last fall, I decided it was time to shake up my mundane world and start living by my terms.
Enter: graduate school.
With my background in sociology and a few social work and addictions graduate courses under my belt, I felt that Niagara's clinical mental health counseling program would suit me. I was immediately impressed by the personal attention I received throughout the application and interviewing processes, and couldn't help but feel welcomed by everyone I met. This is a faculty with passion for what they do, and a drive to constantly shape and improve the program in every way possible. I was sold.
Now that I'm nearing the end of my first semester here at Niagara, I've had time to reflect on this decision and my experience thus far. Entering the program as a student from another institution, it was surprising to see how many students in my classes had received their undergraduate diplomas from Niagara.
On the one hand, it was great to know that these students loved the school enough to want to remain a part of it for another two or three years, but it was also somewhat daunting. Because I have perfected over the years the wonderful skill of being able to worry about anything and everything, I felt a little like an outsider, and a bit anxious at the prospect of trying to make friends with a group who had spent the previous four years together.
Well, as a counseling student, this problem does not persist long. Because of the hands-on nature of the courses, we are expected to interact and practice skills with one another on a daily basis, and this makes breaking the ice pretty much a no-brainer.
In addition to being a program conducive to self-disclosure and communication with others, it turns out that Niagara University breeds some pretty fantastic, friendly and smart people. My concerns were proven pointless pretty quickly, and I've learned that there is no such thing as an "outsider" here. Insert sigh of relief.
With all that goes into choosing and completing a graduate program, I have found that being comfortable where you are can make all the difference in the world. It can be scary to enter a new school with new people and new expectations, so let me tell you, it helps when the new school and new people are welcoming and open, making the new expectations much easier to adjust to.
Niagara University has done an amazing job to promote the goodness in people and the drive to make its students feel important and worthy. It has proven to be a great choice for me, and I am now convinced that it is a place where anyone from anywhere will feel at home.