Yesterday, I completed my final graduate school application. This is such a relief, as now I mainly just have to wait, prepare myself for interviews, and pray for wisdom to make my decision by April 15th. It's so strange, in less than three months, I'll be deciding where I'm spending the next four years. Gosh, that sounds familiar! Right now, I can't imagine making a decision like that and I just don't feel ready. But I'm confident that once I visit some of these schools, I'll get more of a feel for what it'd be like going there. Who knows, maybe I'll only get accepted to one place and the decision will be made for me!
For this final application, I had to add a couple of pages to my personal statement. While working on it, it reminded me of what a passion I do have for my chosen career. Here are some excerps from it, for your reading enjoyment:
"My interest in counseling stems from my positive experiences with a counselor during my parents’ divorce. At age thirteen, when most children already feel insecure, I also experienced intense grief and anger. My counselor understood my emotions and taught me about the grieving process that people often go through following a divorce. She encouraged me to focus on the positive aspects of my life. Through her guidance, I found hope and realized my ability to pursue a purpose for my life. Just as my counselor helped me, I wanted to give back by listening to my friends and helping them through their difficult times. In addition, my friends and family always said one of my greatest traits was empathy. Suddenly, I realized the counseling field was an opportunity for me to use the caring side of myself in a professional setting.
I entered college already planning to pursue counseling psychology, but allowed myself opportunities to explore other fields such as medicine and social work. My experience in these fields, however interesting, helped convince me of my original focus. My psychology coursework, volunteer opportunities, and feedback from those close to me have confirmed my original wish to pursue counseling psychology. I want to listen to and guide others through emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually challenging experiences in their lives. I want to gain the skills to identify the sources of my clients’ problems, guide them toward self-awareness, and motivate them to make positive, self-determined changes. My ultimate career goal is to have my own private counseling practice in which I am able to meet the needs of diverse individuals and families. I am thankful to have had many experiences in and outside the classroom that have shaped my goals and taught me about myself, including research, internships, extra-curricular involvement, and study abroad experience . . .
. . . While my interest in research has increased, my true desire has been to work in the service field. Since my sophomore year in college, I have volunteered biweekly at the Warm Place as a group facilitator for a grief-counseling program for children, helping preteens express and process their grief emotions and experiences. As I listen to my co-facilitators and the children I work with pour out their hearts and share their most private emotions, I sometimes find myself feeling their pain. These emotions are often tough, but I do not want to run from them. I want to embrace it and embrace the people because it is a part of who they are, and I desire to understand them. I believe that through this experience, I am learning what it truly means to be human . . .
. . .Even before these experiences, I have desired to reach out and help others in my personal life. As a leader in the Baptist Student Ministries, I was always eager to meet and befriend new students, which led me become a freshmen Bible study leader two years in a row. I felt inclined to make friends with students who others overlooked, those who were shy and unsure of themselves. I believe that everyone has something valuable to offer, and I desired to see these students bloom. . . . In a similar manner, as a counseling psychologist, I will see my job as dealing with the whole person before me. No matter what first impressions my clients give, I will seek out their strengths and challenge them to do the same, as I identify and treat their problems. One reason I have chosen counseling psychology over clinical is its focus on the positive aspects of clients rather than simply their pathologies. . . .
. . . In addition to my involvement with the BSM, another significant undergraduate experience was the five-week study abroad program I attended. My stay in Guanajuato, Mexico was a significant time in my life when I learned to embrace others’ differences. I fell in love with the people of Mexico, their openness, their laid-back attitude, their passions, their smiles, laughter, music, and food. I discovered while visiting a small, poor village in the country that every human being is the same. No matter what we look like or how different our lifestyles are, we still have the same basic needs – to be loved and cared for. Interestingly, I best learned to appreciate diversity from the other American students who were in the program with me. Until this trip, I had never been close to people that were significantly different from me; I had unintentionally surrounded myself with people who looked, thought, and acted like me. In Mexico, I became close to a young gay man, and a young Latina woman from a poor family. For the first time, I listened to the coming out story of a friend, and another friend shared her struggles to balance two distinct cultures. Their views on religion, God, and sex were very different from mine. I discovered that I could completely disagree with someone, but we could still become close and continue to respect one another. Until that trip, I had never met someone that I disagreed with whom I loved and respected so deeply. Since that experience, I have enjoyed befriending others with different backgrounds and ideologies. The openness I learned in Mexico will carry over into my approach as a counseling psychologist, in which I will accept and serve others with a variety of behaviors and beliefs.
I believe I have a spirit of adventure and am willing to try almost anything once. In Mexico, while some of my fellow students picked at the strange food on their plates, I tried anything and everything, including rabbit and cow tongue. If I never try, I will never know what I love and what doors could open. My supervisor at the drug rehabilitation program recognized that I was able to do what she asked without hesitation and was not afraid of making mistakes and learning from them. In my graduate training, I will be willing to try new things, even if I sometimes feel uncomfortable. Experience brings competence. I am enthusiastic about trying new things and adaptable to learn from my mistakes. . . .
. . . I hope to bring my unique personal assets to [your university] and continue its standard of excellence. My strong academic commitment will contribute to the success of your program as I learn, research, and teach. I am an independent self-starter and am able to achieve my goals. My enthusiasm and adaptability will allow me to work in a variety of settings and learn from feedback. My empathic and cooperative personality enables me to connect naturally with others, which will help me during interactions with clients as well as contribute to the friendly environment within your department. Only my fear of failure limits me, which in the past has led me to worry and be indecisive. While I worry more than I should, I do worry less than I used to and believe that I have grown significantly in this area in the past few years. Lately, I have found myself more confident and more likely to try new things even if there is no guarantee for success. I know that I am entering new territory in graduate school and am willing to try new tasks, be flexible, and be open to learning. I look forward to beginning my counseling career and learning more about my passion, and I hope that [your program] will be a part of my exciting future."