Why (and how) I became a school counselor
With all the focus on college and career readiness that our educational world is feeling, I consider myself lucky. In fact, I’ve always considered myself lucky to have had a direction from a young age. When I talk to my students about preparing for their future career, I like to tell them that I once wanted to be a volcanologist. You see, when I was about eight years old I saw a picture on the cover of a National Geographic Magazine of a man with a silver suit walking around hot lava scooping it up to conduct tests on it. I thought that was the coolest job ever! I loved learning about volcanoes and loved the excitement. When thinking about career development, at that age it’s all about exposure to the world of work and possibilities. Then you get older and figure out what you like AND what you’re good at. Then, you have to really go for it. Make a decision about your direction and shoot for the moon.
As I grew up, I knew in my heart that I wanted to work with children that needed help. After getting my bachelors degree in psychology, I knew I had to continue on into graduate school if I ever hoped to get a job that actually paid a salary enabling me to support myself. Trying to figure out which graduate degree would be worth the student loans, someone suggested school counseling. When I looked into it, I was struck with the light bulb moment of ‘This is It!’. One of the coolest things about school counselors is that we work with all students in the areas of academic success, career development, AND in the personal/social realm. We work in intervention and prevention. So, I get to do what I’ve always wanted by helping kids that are going through rough times. But I also help children develop resiliency skills so that they are better prepared when they hit those rough times.
I love what I do and truly believe it is the best job in the world… for me. What I wish for so many young people (and lots of older ones too) is that they find something they are passionate about and that makes them want to work for it with the belief that they can achieve it. This is the best prevention and intervention tool for all sorts of risk factors. Children in poverty that see a way out work harder in school to make their dreams come true. Children faced with peer pressure to drink or do drugs will back away if they know it will affect their chances of pursuing those dreams. As a parent, I am working hard to expose my children to a vast array of possibilities and tell them every day that they can do whatever they set their minds to. As a school counselor, I get to do the same thing for hundreds of children. Help them develop belief in their ability, emphasize the importance of hard work and education and help them to set goals for their future. This is what school counselors get to do for our students and that is why I love my job so very much.
Jennifer Diaz, Ed.S., LPC is a School Counselor at White Oak Elementary School in Buford, Georgia and a finalist for the American School Counseling Association’s 2015 School Counselor of the Year.
*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility or any Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility member.*