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To Be Helped & To Help

June 15, 2017

A blog post from SOLES MA in Higher Education Leadership Ambassador, Bianca Chau:

Bringing only two suitcases with me from Hong Kong, there was so much of me I had to leave behind. Luckily, I found a great group of friends who helped me along the way in getting settled and of course, the International Center (where I work at) and the Grad and Law commons has been my home away from home.

The first semester was particularly hard. I had to accept that supermarkets were no longer a walking distance away, my family and friends back home were asleep when I was awake, and cost of living was not more expensive, but different in many ways. Balancing studies, work, and my personal life was a lot harder than I thought it would be, too. I felt like I was spreading myself too thin across every aspect of my life – but I had a supportive group of friends that I made in San Diego that encouraged me to push through every part of the way.  

Just a heads up for incoming international folks or for folks who are moving across the country to be at USD: it will take awhile to get used to living in San Diego and being a grad student at USD – and that is NORMAL. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, no matter how small you think the matter may be. That is how I got through. For example, I mentioned to a colleague that I only had a pot and a pan at home and the next day, she brought eating utensils, a kettle, and smaller pots and pans for me and I have been using them ever since. Acts of kindness like that really help you go a long way! So don’t be shy to open up about what you need and we will be there to help! As a Graduate Assistant at the International Center and being a SOLES Ambassador, my hope is to be that support group for any students who I can be there for.IMG-20170325-WA0005

Moving to San Diego

June 1, 2017

A blog post from SOLES MA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management Ambassador, Sigrid Struben:

I moved to San Diego in 1999 and I knew as soon as I arrived that I would never move again. The best things about calling San Diego home are the weather, proximity to diverse coastal environments, and almost unlimited opportunities for outdoor activities; they don’t call it America’s finest city for nothing!

Mission Bay and Pacific Beach are only a few miles from USD and are perfect for all sorts of recreation. Some of my favorites are kayaking, snorkeling, roller blading, sailing, scuba diving, boogie boarding and biking. If you are running low on energy after turning in a ten page paper you can always sit back, relax and enjoy being a spectator at San Diego’s unique and colorful over-the-line tournament every July at Mission Beach, the San Diego Bayfair power boat races, or just unwind and watch the locals and tourists hanging out at Belmont Park’s wooden roller coaster.

Can’t decide which to do first? Don’t worry, you live here now! Torrey Pines State Beach and Park is a little north of USD but only about a ten minute drive, much quieter, and offers gorgeous hiking trails through the cliffs above the beach. La Jolla is a great upscale beach town, also no more than a ten minute drive from campus. It has a wide variety of places to eat and shop, or explore art galleries where you can browse for free. I always like to go down to the water after enjoying a meal with family and friends to watch the seals and sea lions sun bathing on the rocks and playing in La Jolla Cove. San Diego’s coastline offers something for everyone, so you will never be bored. Whether you want to dive right in or just sit back and watch the sun set into the ocean you will return home relaxed and tan. But don’t forget your sunscreen — this is San Diego!

The childrens pool in La Jolla

Oh, how time flies…

May 15, 2017

A blog post from SOLES Master’s Credential Cohort Ambassador, Lara Angeles:

Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is entirely up to you. For me, it’s both. As a one-year candidate in the Master’s Credential Cohort program, the fact that time has gone by all too quickly is an understatement. It may sound cliché, but it really does seem just like yesterday we were having all of this information thrown our way during orientation last July. Now here we are preparing to graduate! Yes, we still have summer classes, but with many of us completing our international experience this summer, it’s a welcome break in comparison to the go-go-go that the rest of the year has brought.

But as I sit year writing this blog, I can’t help but reflect on the year that has passed by. From the time I began the application process for graduate programs to now as I’m in the midst of the application process for teaching positions, it’s hard to believe how much I’ve grown during that time. I know it may sound silly considering it has *only* been a year, but so much has happened that has challenged me and strengthened me: from balancing a hectic schedule to Teacher’s Appreciation Night at the zoo to lengthy class discussions about different pedagogies to yoga before Friday morning class to potlucks with my cohort to tears of joy and tears of stress… it’s amazing how much one can actually fit in a year and how close we have all become because of that! As I write this, it becomes more and more apparent to me how thankful I am not only to the family and friends that have supported me throughout this crazy time, but also to my cohortmates who have walked alongside me through this journey.

Even though the year isn’t over yet, I still feel a bittersweet ending up ahead. Amidst the stress of wrapping up our credential process, completing our action research, and job hunting, of course I’m relieved that there is an ending in sight. On the other hand, I know there will always be areas of growth for me and will miss the people that have helped me get this far. Since the ending is inevitable, I am glad to be finishing strong with the Class of 2017 and am excited to see what more is in store for the rest of our lives!

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” –Michael Althsuler


Practicing Counseling Skills in Real Time

May 1, 2017

A blog post from SOLES MA in School Counseling Ambassador, Paige Iglesia:

I think one of the most valuable aspects of a SOLES education is being able to put the skills you learn into real world use. In our first semester of the School Counseling program, we have three classes: Skills, Ethics, and Theories. Each of these classes made me think about who I am and what I want in drastically different ways.

In Skills, we had to record three counseling sessions that we did with another student in class. The first time was horrible. It’s so incredibly awkward to hear and see yourself! But it is truly helpful. You get to see your little tics, you watch your body language, you get feedback from other students and your professor on what you could have said or things you did well. Then, second semester you get placed at a practicum site with 4-5 other School Counseling students based on your preferences. I am with a group of people who want to do most of their work at an elementary school, so this semester we are at O’Farrell High School, a charter school in Southeast San Diego.

Being at practicum has been an incredible experience. I really get to practice the skills I picked up last semester in real time with real students. I think one of the most valuable experiences at practicum is understanding more about myself as a counselor and what works best for me. We have to record our sessions again this semester and each week, my professor observes me in a live counseling session. These experiences have been so beneficial as I continue to learn about the counseling profession and myself as a counselor. We also do guidance lessons where we create curriculum and give the lessons to a variety of classes based off of what the school needs. As much as I love my students, I have to say that being in a small group with a few members of my cohort has been so fun and such a great learning experience! We get to watch each other grow and support each other as we all learn together.

Overall, I would say that practicum has been my favorite part of the School Counseling program so far! It has been challenging at times, but I would not change any of it. I am excited to continue practicing my skills and learning more at my field work site next year!


International Experience: Japan

April 24, 2017

A blog post from SOLES MA in School Counseling Ambassador, Amy Liechty:

Hello – my name is Amy! I’m a first year student in the school counseling program at USD. Today I’m writing about a global studies trip to Japan with Dr. Erika Cameron.

The trip, the highlight of our course on human development, was the experience of a lifetime. Dr. Cameron, or as we like to call her, “DCam”, packed our days full of adventure. We attended university lectures, visited kindergarten classrooms, served the homeless, and even spent the day at an international high school. Between academic experiences, I also wandered the streets of Tokyo, discovered hidden sushi counters in Toyama, and stared in awe at the cherry blossoms blooming everywhere we looked.

Building relationships with the counselors and educators we met along the way really made the country come alive. Our conversations profoundly changed the way I think about human development and my work as a counselor. In particular, our experience abroad encouraged me to reflect on my ideas about parenting, group identity, and how we develop a sense of self.

A week later, I’m still mulling over these ideas. But, I know building a philosophy of human development and counseling is the work of a lifetime. Sometimes, seeing the world through new eyes is the best way to learn and grow. I am grateful to have inspiring peers and excellent professors to walk with me as I continue the journey in the U.S. and beyond.

Cherry Blossoms (1)


April 3, 2017

A blog post from SOLES MA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management Ambassador, Gail Wingfield:

I graduated from college a long, long time ago, way before laptop computers and cell phones. Since then my life has unfolded in ways I could not have anticipated. I have explored the depths of myself as well as exotic places like India. I taught meditation, raised a family and have spent over twenty years working for a nonprofit dedicated to presenting live theater to the San Diego community. When a group of passionate individuals work to bring a production to the stage there is rarely a dull moment, and yet a few years ago I started to take stock of my life and ask myself, “Is this it? What other options do I have?”

I’ll be honest. At first, going back to school did not enter my mind. When I heard about SOLES and started to consider the possibility, trepidation arose. Am I too old to go back to school? What if I don’t get accepted? What if I get in, but can’t handle the challenge? How am I going to pay for it? Then a video by Steve Harvey popped up on Facebook. He said, you have to jump in order to soar. Those words hit home. I submitted my application and have never looked back. The program has already given me so much, with more to come. Returning to school was one of the best decisions I ever made. For anyone hesitating to apply, you can do it! It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding. Jump!



A Message From the Incoming SGSA President

August 11, 2016

A message from the 2016-2017 SOLES Graduate Student Association (SGSA) President, Judy Wai.

Coming to San Diego, I did not know a single soul, but joining SGSA provided me with the opportunity to find community at USD and be connected to a diverse graduate student body. SGSA is a graduate student organization on campus specifically designed to support the educational experience of graduate students within SOLES through on-campus and community bonding events, scholarship opportunities, networking experiences, and much more.

Joining SGSA my first year of graduate school has been one of the most impactful experiences. As cliché as that statement sounds, it is a true reflection of how rewarding being a part of SGSA has been. I joined SGSA as a First-Year School Counseling Representative and was provided with opportunities to attend Graduate Student Council meetings, socials such as brewery nights and Paint Nights, and other events that drew me closer to the wonderful people and resources within SOLES. After my first year of attending USD and joining SGSA, I have been provided with a community of friends and resources and gained skills and insights that I do not think I would have gained elsewhere.



For those who are not graduating or are new students, SGSA is currently looking to fill some open positions, such such as the Learning and Teaching Representative, Counseling and Family & Mental Health Professions Representative, the Leadership Studies Representative position, and First- Year Representatives. If you have any questions about the open positions or SGSA, please reach out via email at

As the incoming President of SGSA for the 2016-2017 academic year, I am ecstatic to meet you all and answer any questions you may have. I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Judy Wai
Judy Wai
2016-2017 SGSA President