Graduate Profile: Counseling Students and Self
"Be yourself; learn to be selfless; trust the professors, especially when they test your dedication; and trust yourself. YOU GOT THIS!"
Ruth Shannon, a 2020 Governors State University graduate with a Master of Arts in School Counseling, discovered GSU while coping with the loss of her mother. While completing her degree, she realized the importance of working on yourself to become a better student and a better counselor.
"Be ready to do your self-work. You will not be effective as a counselor if you do not know who you are in the deepest places, those we tend to hide from the world. Do not be timid or take anything personally because I promise you at the end of your journey, you will be well prepared and ecstatic at the person and professional you will become."
GSU Newsroom: What brought you to GSU?
Shannon: My mother died in 2015, and to cope I began volunteering at my kids’ school. I met a GSU student and now fellow colleague and graduate in the Clinical/Mental Health track and she piqued my interest when she told me about the program. I researched the program, interviewed, and was admitted. I was originally admitted to the Clinical Mental Health Counselor track, but later applied and switched to School Counseling.
GSU Newsroom: What are some of the highlights from your time at GSU?
Shannon: As a student I had so many inspiring and phenomenal experiences. I volunteered at the annual counseling conferences, and I But the greatest highlights are from my classes. I learned so much, especially from my colleagues who were training to become a Choice Theory/Reality Therapy practitioner with Dr. Patricia Robey, Chair of the Psychology and Counseling Department. The authenticity and passion we shared as future counselors created a deep awakening, understanding, and drive in me to be a servant leader. The professors are experienced leaders in their respective fields and fully invested in developing future counselors. Also, I was able to network with future social workers and school psychologists and build relationships that will enable me to incorporate an integrative-care school counseling program model in my future position as a Professional School Counselor. I was inducted into Chi Sigma Iota international counseling honor society, and I served as Graduate Student Vice President of the Illinois School Counseling Association.
GSU Newsroom: Who were some of the professors that shaped your experiences and your future?
Shannon: All the professors shaped my experiences and future! Kim-Anne Foraker-Koons is no-nonsense and direct, yet she has a loving touch, and she is adept in her teaching abilities, no matter your learning style. I did most of my (self) work in her classes. She had a very subtle way of sparking “aha” moments for me, that led to true growth.
Professor Paulson and Dr. Atkins shined a bright light on the school counseling profession and introduced me to the essence of my work as school counselor, being a change agent for ALL students.
Professor Tadsen, taught me how to be an effective group facilitator, and to be more diligent in my writing––checking for errors and structure––because my writing would speak to my professionalism.
Professor Tracey Kim Snow taught me the holistic approach to counseling with mindfulness, and self-care. She also taught me to always be ethical and create boundaries because there will be situations that test us and pull at our heart strings. Professor Snow also taught me that I could look amazing too, she always dressed so sassy, with the best shoes.
Dr. Maucieri taught me the importance of being punctual, he will start without you. He was very concise with teaching research and content that was overwhelming, the format was simple and nonintimidating.
Dr. Ungureanu fostered in me a firm social cultural foundation and how to respectfully discuss race and bias with colleagues, so that we felt safe enough to be authentic and humble enough to listen to hear, not just respond, teaching me how to facilitate these courageous conversations in my role as a school counselor.
Dr. Can taught me to relax and breathe. He taught me that calmness allows for comprehensive thought, to enhance my students’ experiences.
Dr. Koonce taught me to pay attention to detail and think outside the box when developing an intervention plan for students to ensure I am providing them with the opportunity to gain independence and sustainable skills.
Professor Virginia Fenske-Mathers taught me how to build an outstanding curriculum that is student and data driven, and how to tap into my vulnerability when needed.
Dr. Robey mentored me as a Choice Theory/Reality Therapist in training and helped me to become more aware of how my choices and thinking were creating my reality. She taught me how to implement CT/RT in my personal life, so that it naturally manifests into my professional role, to help students make choices to create the reality they want to lead happier and healthier lives.
GSU Newsroom: What’s next after graduation?
Shannon: I am currently applying for positions and am sure I will find one. I am certified in telehealth counseling, thanks to the amazing professors at GSU that stay abreast of opportunities for students. I sit for my licensing exam in June, and I plan to implement a comprehensive school counseling program and set a 5-year goal to affect systemic change through collaboration and innovation; then implement the program model in various schools throughout the world.
GSU Newsroom: What advice would you give current and future GSU students?
Shannon: Be ready to do your self-work, you will not be effective as a counselor if you do not know who you are in the deepest places, those we tend to hide from the world. Do not be timid or take anything personally because I promise you at the end of your journey you will be well prepared and ecstatic at the person and professional you have become. The professors are there to help, but not to play around. They love what they do and are seeking serious individuals that are passionate about helping people. Most importantly, be yourself; learn to be selfless; trust the professors, especially when they test your dedication; and trust yourself. YOU GOT THIS!