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Exploring San Diego

February 24, 2015

A blog post from SOLES Ambassador and MA in Counseling with specialization in School Counseling Michelle Nakamura:

This is my first blog and I pondered for a long time on what to write. I was definitely thinking it had to be more along the lines of study hard or this program is so awesome (which it is). However, I thought that many current and incoming students are not from the San Diego area. I myself am from Hawaii! So here are some of the great San Diego area activities that I’ve enjoyed and hope you’ll enjoy when you make your way here.

Potato Chip Rock Hike: Why wouldn’t you eat potato chips on the Potato Chip rock?! Yes it’s a bit grueling in that lovely sun but you should be taking advantage of this year round one season weather.

Michelle 1

San Diego Zoo & Wild Animal Park: It’s world famous! It’s something you need to experience once, just like Disneyland. The Wild Animal Park also just opened their new Tiger Trail during summer and it’s really nice!

Michelle 2

Michelle 3

Temecula: Okay, so not part of San Diego but only an hour north. It’s beautiful and they have great wineries! Makes for a perfect day trip to relax from all that grad school life. South Coast Winery is my go-to soley based on the beauty of their outdoor area.

Michelle 4

Extraordinary Desserts: The desserts here are almost too beautiful to eat, but this is a must! The menu is ever changing so don’t wait too long to decide!

Michelle 5

San Diego Comic Con: The MECCA of pop culture and comic conventions. I was lucky enough to be one of the 130,000+ attendees this past summer. It was ah-mazing. Don’t fret if you can’t get tickets, there are still tons of free events that happen outside of the convention center.

Michelle 6

This is just a small taste of what San Diego has to offer. You’ll do a lot more exploring on your own, with your cohort, and/or USD community. Even meeting new people from outside of SOLES is something to experience. I use Meetup to find groups with similar interests or have the same background as me. Great way to meet new friends, find new places to eat, attend free events, etc!

Marital and Family Therapy program happenings

February 18, 2015

A blog post from SOLES Ambassador and MA in Marital and Family Therapy, Matthew Jaurequi:

Spring semester is a busy and exciting time for students in the Masters of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy program here at USD.  First year students find themselves visiting and applying to a number of reputable institutions that USD has built positive relationships with to begin their 12-month clinical practicum, while second year students begin closing in on that 500 hour mark and gear up to take their comprehensive exam. Ultimately first year and second year students may find the spring semester to be an important time in which we all continue to learn and develop and students and professionals.


February 12, 2015


“A stunning sunset here at USD at one of my favorite spots on campus, behind the Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice by the reflecting pool. This spot on campus overlooks a lot of San Diego, including Mission Bay and Mission Beach. It is one of my favorite thinking and relaxing spots to go to when I’m stressed. The sunset views here are one of a kind, and they are something I will miss most about USD.” – Katie Russo, MA in Higher Education Leadership

Why School Counseling at USD?

February 10, 2015
School Counselor

A blog post from SOLES Ambassador and MA in Counseling with specialization in School Counseling Blanca Zuniga: 

As I wrapped up my last conversation with a prospective student at the SOLES Spring Open House last month, I couldn’t help myself from thinking about how amazing USD has been. Through research papers, nightly readings, practicum/fieldwork, assignments and my busy hectic schedule, it is very easy to forget how valuable my education at USD really is. Being able to share my experiences and hearing my professors present on our program, was very refreshing and it reminded me of how fortunate I am to be a part of this program and the SOLES community. In an effort to make your decision of choosing the counseling graduate program at USD easier, I selected the top 5 things that make this program at USD unique.

#1 Hands-on Training: Through in-class projects, assignments, practicum and fieldwork, you are given ample opportunities to put your learning and skills to practice. One of the things I enjoy the most about our classes is that they are very practical and that you are exposed to many situations you will encounter in the field. Through this hands-on training you feel more confident with your skills and prepared to work with your students.

#2 Supportive Faculty: Our professors are extremely invested in our learning and they are there to guide us every step of the way. They genuinely care about our success in and out of grad school and you can always count on them for support. School Counseling faculty are committed to ensuring that we are knowledgeable in our field and that we strengthen the skills essential in our every day practice.

#3 Accreditation: Our program is state and nationally (CACREP) accredited and we are 1 out of 6 schools in the state of California that holds this accreditation. Due to this accreditation, our program curriculum ensures that we are able to meet the standards set by the profession and that we have the knowledge and skills to be prepared for the field. Through USD, you are guaranteed high quality education and success in your practice.

#4 International Experience: USD overall is committed to the value of understanding multiple perspectives and cultures. Therefore, students are required to participate in an international experience. Through this experience, we get the opportunity to learn about a different culture and see what counseling practices look like in this country.

#5 We Stand Out: USD has a strong reputation in the San Diego community and has strong relationships with numerous school districts. Due to the values, morals and integrity of all USD students, we are known to have strong work ethic and dedication for the helping profession. At the same time, because of the high expectations and rigorous curriculum, we tend to bring in the skills and creative ideas/projects that students from other programs don’t. Action research in particular is a project that we uniquely do and that schools find beneficial for their sites. Altogether, schools and community members know who USD students are and what they are capable of doing for schools, their students and the community as a whole. USD students make things happen!

Experiencing Guatemala

February 3, 2015

Guatemala Crew 

A blog post from SOLES Ambassador and MA in Nonprofit Leadership and Management, Desiree Del-Zio:

The University of San Diego provides a plethora of unique and diverse opportunities to experience the world both domestically and globally. During the Intersession of 2015 I was able to participate in one such experience as a student enrolled in the Nonprofits and Civil Societies course in Guatemala (LEAD 518). Ten students accompanied by our professor headed down to Central America to experience firsthand the needs of the people, the work of their leaders and the opportunities for change that exist in this remarkable country. Students personally witnessed both this country’s struggles and strengths, observing the challenges facing the people of Guatemala and the tremendous energy being put forth by astonishing citizens from every aspect of society. Our class met with leaders of the government, directors of foundations, university scholars and public servants. Moreover, we had the opportunity to interact with citizens of this country living and working in the challenging conditions of a society emerging from a 36 year civil war that concluded less than 20 years ago and with no victor of which to speak. These struggles and challenges of the past fuel the leaders and citizens developing this country, who embrace their national maxim “Guatemala esta Adelante” (Guatemala is moving forward.)

The opportunity to study abroad with a focus on civic and social engagement was incredibly eye opening and a powerful reminder that struggle is remarkably relative, as is success. We learned of ordinary citizens accomplishing extraordinary tasks, rising to the level of hero including a simple Mayan woman, widowed during the war, who united 15,000 widows in service and dedication to one and other. We watched as people lived out their lives with tremendous pride in their work and faith in God. We spoke with government officials who battle against all odds to bring to their citizens living conditions which meet the basic necessities of life, such as clean water, access to healthy foods and a developed and cutting edge education system. There can be no doubt that Guatemala has many years of work ahead to accomplish their current hopes. Moreover, they are laying the foundation to create a space which permits those hopes to evolve over time. The journey to independence and social freedom has begun for this country and it was an honor and a privilege to witness that journey in its infancy.

Guatemala esta adelante

Antigua - la bandera de Guatemala[1]

I find myself, at the conclusion of this course, once again changed. The University of San Diego continues to enhance my life both academically and personally. I am genuinely moved by the experiences this coursework offered, grateful for the tremendous efforts of the university staff and professors, motivated by the ambition and dedication of my classmates and truly proud to count myself among such an elite group of thinkers and doers. The University of San Diego, like Guatemala, esta Adelante and so much good can and will come from that.

The Balinese Life: Developing Cultural Competence Through My Travels

January 28, 2015

A blog post from SOLES Ambassador and MA in Counseling with specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Ji Youn Cindy Kim:

Pictures taken during international experience in July 2014:

Cindy 1

CMHC Cohort Class of 2016 taking a part in the Balinese culture on the stairs of a beautiful temple.

Cindy 2

The most terrifying ten minutes of my life.

Cindy 3

USD counseling students hard at work in Dr. Johnson’s Risk Assessment and Trauma Course.

Cindy 4

USD counseling students finding their inner peace with the laughing Buddha.

How to Prep for Practicum

January 21, 2015

A blog post from SOLES Ambassador and MA in Counseling with specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Adriana Del Vecchio:

As part of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, one of the unique opportunities is the practicum experience. It is a chance to put all of the skills you’ve learned over the course of two years into action. It is an incredibly valuable clinical experience. When I think about it, I can hardly believe that I am seven months into my year long practicum. I can vividly recall the nervousness when I ran my first group, and when I sat down with my first individual client, thinking to myself “I have NO idea how to do therapy?!” Quite frankly, I don’t think I can give any advice to quell those fears; that just takes time and trust in your training. But I can give some advice for how to prepare for the interview process, and how to make sure you get the most out of your practicum site.

5 Tips for Navigating the Practicum Process:

  1. Start preparing early. The practicum fair is in February. It’s your opportunity to speak to supervisors at the sites and set up interviews. However, there is a lot of work that can be done before hand. Learn what sites offer practicum and do some research on each one. Find out what populations different sites work with, what their requirements for hours, supervision, and daily work load, etc. Research their mission statements and the philosophies that guide each agency. This will help you learn where your interests lie and give you the time to contemplate the fit of each site. Additionally, start working on your Curriculum Vitae (CV). Make sure you take a trip to the career center, as they are a valuable resource that many graduate students forget about. Make sure you have it prepared well before the fair, so you have time to reflect and edit.
  2. Talk to your professors. Your advisor and professors offer a wealth of knowledge regarding each site, what to look for in a practicum site and which sites align with your interests. They can help you prep for your interview and review your curriculum vitae (CV). Developing these relationships with your professors are imperative to succeeding in your graduate career. They are there to provide advice, and help guide you through this important process.
  3. Practice interview questions. This is crucial. Especially if this a new field for you, or you aren’t used to the interview process, take the time to research and practice answers to interview questions. You will feel much better when you walk into that interview room, knowing you can articulately speak to your abilities.
  4. Network with students currently in practicum. Sometimes we forget, but students who are in your third year of practicum are GREAT resources. They have been through the process, so they can help you answer any questions you may have. They can give you first hand knowledge about the inner workings of their site. Offer to buy them a cup of coffee or grab some lunch; they can be a great source of support.
  5. Relax and take a deep breath. If you’ve done these steps and taken the time to prepare, you will be great. These past two years of grad school have lead you to this moment. The year you spend at your practicum site will be the most challenging and inspiring time in your graduate career.

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