When Gloria Jean G‘21 retired after working decades as a school counselor and director of counseling, she knew her time spent helping others was not yet done. Although she loved working with young children, Jean was ready for a change of scenery. When she found out there was a need for mental health counselors who could work with school-aged children, she knew she could help fill the gap.
Jean returned to school to receive an advanced certificate in clinical mental health counseling from Saint Rose, which was interesting and different enough from her previous career field to make her feel excited to be in a learning environment again. We recently caught up with Jean to learn more about her experience at Saint Rose and future plans. Here’s what she had to say:
Why did you choose the clinical mental health counseling program at Saint Rose? After retiring from nearly 30 years working as a school counselor and director of K-12 counseling services in public schools in the Capital Region, I found I just wasn’t done. I wanted to find a way to utilize my knowledge and experience with young people and still contribute to my community. Being a helping person was integral to my identity, and I discovered retirement needed to include valued work. I just wasn’t sure how to do that outside of school. And, I wasn’t sure my services were even needed or wanted.
Are you a career changer? What made you want to get into mental health counseling? I learned there was a bridge program for people with a degree in school counseling that led to an advanced certificate in clinical mental health counseling. The program didn’t require me to repeat the required courses in both fields that I’d already completed. So, I had found something similar enough to what I had done that I didn’t feel like I was starting from scratch, but different enough to be an interesting addition to what I already knew. I also learned that there was a need for mental health counselors who liked to work with young children, and that was exactly the age group I enjoyed working with the most. The program at Saint Rose provided the gateway I was looking for to become, once again, a contributing member of my community providing a needed service.
What is your favorite memory of Saint Rose? I just love being in classes, learning with other students, and getting to know them. We have wonderful diversity among our students, people of different ages and from different parts of the state and other countries. And I thoroughly enjoyed representing the “older” demographic in that diversity! I found other students were genuinely interested in my life experiences and valued the knowledge I shared. I certainly learned a lot from them and feel more connected to generations other than my own because of sharing the learning environment with them.
What have you learned through the pandemic? I think this past year reminded me of how precious our lives and way of life are, to not take anything or anyone for granted, to make the most of what you already have, and to not use more toilet paper or paper towels than you really need. And that human beings need other human beings.
What was the best class you took at Saint Rose, and why? The one I’m in is always my favorite, and I’m in my internship seminar now. It is really bringing together all the bits and pieces I’ve learned into what is starting to look like my new career!
What are your future plans? I’ve been actively working towards the creation of a position where I currently intern. Fortunately, I provide particular knowledge that is useful to the organization, specifically all my school-based experience. So, my vision of combining my previous school-based experience with my newly honed mental health counseling skills may just come together as I’d hoped.
What did Saint Rose teach you? Do what you love, learn what you can, and keep your eyes open for opportunities. Altogether, you will reach the vision you have for yourself. But first, dare to see it!
Who was your best professor, and why? As with my favorite class, the professor I have at the time is likely my favorite. Each professor I’ve had has given their all, sharing life and work experiences as well as their deep knowledge of the subject matter. I’m in Professor Claudia Lingertat-Putnam’s internship class now, and she definitely is a favorite. Claudia was integral to my decision to study mental health counseling at Saint Rose, and she often provided the wisdom, guidance, or listening ear that made the difference as I worked my way through the program. She nurtured my vision when it got a little foggy for me and was one of my most enthusiastic cheerleaders when I needed encouragement.
What is your advice for incoming students? Dare to see it for yourself! And then learn as if your life depends upon it.