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Looking Back and Leaping Forward

February 15, 2018

A blog post from SOLES MA in Counseling, School Counseling PPS Credential, Ambassador, Carolyn Jercinovich

98 days. As I write this blog post, that is exactly how many days I have until I graduate from USD and SOLES. At first, that seemed like a pretty long time to me, but then I did the math to see what I was doing 98 days ago and realized that it is going to go by in the blink of an eye. So naturally, I have started to reminisce on the past almost year and a half in this program.

My time as a SOLES graduate student has been nothing short of a whirlwind, in the best way possible. I went into my program knowing that I would learn, be challenged, and grow, but now I realize that I have done all of these in ways that I did not expect. I have learned not only about what it means to be a school counselor, but I have also learned an incredible amount about myself – my strengths, my capabilities, my values, and my challenges. I have grown in my knowledge and skills as a counselor-in-training, but also as a person in the ways I see the world and the people around me. For someone who really loves to have a plan and for that plan to go as expected, I absolutely embrace the adventure that graduate school has been, for it has prepared me for a counseling career that will undoubtedly also be full of unexpected twists and turns.

So as I look forward to these next 98 days – days that I am sure will be full of even more learning and growing – my goal is to be very intentional about appreciating every single one of them. Carpe diem – it might be cliché, but it is absolutely how I want to spend the rest of graduate school and, while I am at it, the rest of my life.



The Balance of It All

February 1, 2018

A blog post from SOLES MA in Higher Education Leadership Ambassador, Kalena Michalec

In the midst of the semester, it can be hard to find life balance. Between the hundreds of pages of reading, assignments, assistantship/jobs, “doing” my action research, maintaining a semi-healthy lifestyle, and trying to keep my personal life, it is very exhausting. Let me tell you, I was not prepared for my first semester. I let things slip, picked up a burrito, ran late to a meeting, napped instead of going to the gym… It was difficult to find my flow and if you are feeling this way, you are not alone!

Eventually, I found a rhythm that worked for me and got my groove going. The best tips I have for doing this are:

1.     Use Google calendar or a planner to schedule all meetings, assignments, classes, appointments, etc. along with scheduling time for self-care.

2.     Do NOT let your personal enjoyments be forgotten. Prioritize each week at least one thing that brings you joy. This has been my key to maintaining my energy to keep going.

3.     Do not overcommit/know how much you can do. Be realistic with yourself and say no when you need to! It is okay.

4.     Check-in with your peers/family/friends and do not forget about everyone while your head is crammed in a book. Stay in contact with those that keep you grounded.

5.     Have faith! You got this.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

January 15, 2018

A blog post from SOLES MA in Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Student Ambassador, Camille Ramirez

This coming Spring 2018, I will be taking my last few remaining classes of the semester,
continuing the last half of my year-long Practicum at a severe mental illness clinic,
graduating with a Master’s Degree from a 3-year program at University of San Diego,
and hopefully be on my way to acquiring a career that I’ve dreamt about for many years.
Personally, it’s a lot to look forward to, and unfortunately, a lot to worry about as well.

Every new year, I look forward to the many possibilities and events that the year can
bring. Depending on the year, but especially this year, I feel an array of emotions
ranging from excitement to fear, and everything in between. I have lived in San Diego
for about 3 years now, after moving here from Los Angeles to attend USD and attain a
degree for Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Honestly, these 3 years have been both
long and short, long in that there has been lots of growth, memories, and experiences
throughout, but also short in that it feels like the time just flew by. I’m excited to
graduate, but I am also frightened. Will someone hire me? What do I do now? Where do I
go next?

As I try to plan and prepare as best I can for what’s next, these thoughts naturally bring about concern, dread and fear. It’s my personal folly in worrying so much. But in the
midst of all this trepidation, I paradoxically find myself realizing the importance of
embracing the moment. Yes, later this year I would have to apply to many jobs, it won’t
be easy and I will be stressed, but right now, I am content with what I have already accomplished and that should be enough for now. I accept all these thoughts and
feelings; I learn from them but not have them hold me back. I have already learned so
much in these past years, but the best part is that I am constantly learning – with my peers, about my clients, about the magic of therapy, about myself. So while I naturally fall back on worrying about many things in life, I am thankful I am able to step back, take whatever life throws at me and take it all in. The future is unknown, but one thing is
certain, it all starts in the present.

Happy New Year and Good Luck to You in 2018!

Why I Came To USD, and More Importantly, Why I Stayed

January 3, 2018

A blog post from SOLES Master’s Credential Cohort Program: Secondary Education Student Ambassador, Matthew Becerra

I am in the third semester of the Master’s Credential Cohort in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, and am a male teaching candidate of color who is planning on spending the rest of his life working as a public school teacher/educator.

Prior to USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences, I attended public schools (proudly) for 17 consecutive years, all the way through undergraduate studies.

However, when it came to graduate school I was intrigued and excited by the University of San Diego because of everything the school had to offer, particularly in alignment with the school’s mission and vision statements dedicated to social justice and positively impacting communities.

After a month of school, I started to actually question whether or not I belonged at USD. The transition happened so quickly and suddenly that I was personally feeling overwhelmed. Fortunately, I was taking EDUC 581C, Multicultural and Philosophical Foundations of Education in a Global Society, and had Dr. Veronica Garza as my professor. Not only was the class itself rewarding, as we talked at length about inequities in education, but I was able to build rapport with Professor Garza, and now consider her a mentor. She showed genuine care and interest in my learning, by emailing me directly when I missed class, or to thank me for classroom discussion contributions. So when I came to her to express my concerns and doubts, she was an empowering voice of reason and comfort. She routinely would tell me “You DO belong here” when referencing the school and encouraged me to speak my truth. It is because of her support and reassurance (as well as our mutual love for the Los Angeles Dodgers) that I not only stayed enrolled but now have immersed myself into the graduate school community.

I share this to say, first and foremost, thank you Dr. Garza for your support. Secondly, I want all prospect students to know if you are looking for a space where the faculty care about you, truly, then I would recommend attending the School of Leadership and Education Sciences.

– Matthew Becerra

University of Cambridge and ILA Conference in Brussels

December 11, 2017

A blog post from SOLES PhD in Leadership Studies Ambassador, Ryosuke (Reo) Watanabe

We are finishing the semester now. In retrospect, the highlight of this semester was
LEAD 581i, a global study course to the UK and Belgium. I attended the European trip
led by Professor Cheryl Getz with other ten PhD and Master’s students in October.
Thanks to the long-term relationship between Professor Getz and Professor Georgia
Sorenson, the founder of the academy, we were fortunate to attend the opening event of
the James McGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at Churchill College in University of
Cambridge. The academy organized a weekend leadership workshop especially for us.
We had a great opportunity to learn leadership from the British perspective and discuss
the current issues on leadership with various scholars and the students at University of
Cambridge. We then attended the opening ceremony of the academy with other
outstanding scholars and practitioners of leadership studies gathered from around the
world. Burns is called a founder of leadership studies, and his transformational
leadership theory has made a huge influence on leadership studies, so I was personally
excited to attend the special event.

After the visit to Cambridge, we moved to Brussels to attend the International
Leadership Association (ILA) 19 th Annual Global Conference. There, we as leadership
scholars shared the sense of urgency, because the current world is full of leadership
challenges. The growing global instability was a frequent topic in the conference. As
there were so many sessions during just the four-day period, I was able to experience
only a slight part of it, but was surprised to know that many scholars respected and
referred our Leadership Studies program as the pioneering program in the field. I
appreciate the irreplaceable opportunity of networking with scholars outside SOLES and
learning leadership studies from diversified views.

For Those Grads Far Far Away From Home…

November 15, 2017

A blog post from SOLES MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling AmbassadorBetty Desta

Moving more than 9100 miles away from home for the first time can be a pretty big adjustment. Fully getting used to my life here took several months. Thinking back, I wish I could go back and tell myself all the things I know now…perhaps find a way to write myself a letter and mail it to my past self. It would go something like this…


Dear Betty:

Call home as often as you can. Although it may really be fun being away from home and getting to live life as an adult (finally!!!) it can get a bit lonely sometimes. Remember how much your sister used to annoy you when you were back home? Believe it or not, you now talk almost everyday. She has been the person you call when you happy, sad and bored. Sometimes calculating what time it is back home can be hard, but on the other hand, you may find yourself on the phone at 3 am in the morning, laughing hysterically about old memories and trying not to wake up your roommates.

Find a place that sells food from back home. In your first few months, not having food from back home will make you truly homesick. You will try a few shops and restaurants that will leave you disappointed (and slightly more homesick) but then when you do find a place that makes decent food that is reminiscent of back home, it will all be worth it!

Stay in touch with your old friends. Life gets busy, and it’s hard to stay in touch with old friends when life is taking you in such completely different ways. Yes, friends will go through lots of changes while you’re gone and you will experience major FOMO  and it’s okay. Make a point of checking in with your friends and catching up at least once in a while.

Explore all the new opportunities you have available now. You will find that the college experience is completely different here. You will feel awkward around the faculty because back home, a casual and warm relationship with professors is unheard of. There will also be so many new opportunities to get involved in research, clubs and other activities both on and off campus. It may feel overwhelming at first, but just make the first step – it’s always the hardest. Email your professors, join that student org, volunteer or get an internship off campus. These will help your career development immensely.

And most of all, don’t forget to have fun!

Happiness is Not a Limited Resource

November 1, 2017

A blog post from SOLES MA in Marital and family Therapy Ambassador, Taylor Valdivia:

As I embark on my final year in the Marital and Family Therapy Master’s program, I have learned that ‘adulting’ is everything it is hyped up to be…and then some. Balancing work, school, practicum, family, responsibilities, a social life and self-care all in a day’s work is a heck of a challenge; but one that I am always ready to take on.

Taking on each day is a battle in it of itself, but I am lucky to have such an incredible support system every step of the way. My fellow cohort members, professors, supervisors and family are walking beside me, picking me up when I fall, cheering me on and giving me unconditional love and support through it all. Every shoulder I have cried on, coffee order taken, ear I have talked off, late night food run, snap chat exchange, GIF battle and laugh shared…I have won the lottery with the people I am thankful to have in my life. These are the people who have seen me at my best and my worst and choose to accept me for both. Accepting me for who I am, supporting me, loving me and challenging me to be the best me that I can possibly be.

Being a graduate student is difficult and challenging, but one of the most rewarding journeys that I am blessed to be embarking on.  Some days are triumphs, others are tribulations, but each day I learn something new about the world, others and myself that I never knew before.

A lot goes on in balancing life as a graduate student, but just know that you are never alone. In this journey of pursuing higher education, I have found that I am a lot stronger than I thought I ever was. Facing challenges, emotions and feelings that I have tucked away for so long, I have been able to face them head on, with an entire support team behind me.

As you embark on your graduate school journey, I encourage you to find your happiness. I have found my own happiness and it continues to grow each and every day.  It’s in the quality time I share with my family, the relationships I have with my friends, the meditations I do at the beach, the workouts I have at the gym, the taste of coffee in the morning, reading before I go to bed, seeing my dream of becoming a therapist become a reality…everywhere I look, happiness awaits.

“The decision to be positive is not one that disregards or belittles the sadness that exists. It is rather a conscious choice to focus on the good, and to cultivate happiness – genuine happiness. Happiness is not a limited resource.”  – Christopher Aiff