Melody Hashemieh put a lot of effort ensuring the School Counseling M.S. program at CSUN was right for her. She had a strong interest in psychology and she has always enjoyed working with young students in a school environment but she still wanted to make sure she was making the right decision. She joined school counseling Facebook groups, interviewed current students and asked many questions. As she is completing her final semester this spring, she is sure that she made the right decision.
Melody describes the School Counseling program as a blessing in disguise, “I’m enhancing my own life with all that I am learning; it has been a journey of self-growth and reflection. I am grateful to God.” While Melody felt that she would make a great counselor, one of her first experiences was doubt as she feared that even while doing her best work, she wouldn’t be able to help a student in need. Melody explained that Professor Geary reminded her what counseling is all about, “People just need someone to listen to them. Someone to be there for them and not judge them.” It was this lesson, during her first semester, that everything clicked, “You never really give advice. You listen, ask questions to gain better understanding, and help the person come full circle. ” Once she understood that the root of counseling was listening, she knew she could be the best counselor.
Melody believes that we should appreciate school counselors every day and not just one week of the year. “School counselors are superheroes behind the scenes. Counselors are not glorified class schedulers, they put their heart and soul into helping students and parents. Counselors have 400 student caseloads and their job doesn’t end at 3pm, especially right now with life’s current situation, there is an extra layer of sensitivity to help students whenever they ask for help.”
Upon completion of the M.S. School Counseling Program, Melody wants to help students understand how social media affects their self-esteem and to promote a more engaging lifestyle by getting outside and using creativity to promote developmental and cognitive health. She also has goals to serve her Persian, Jewish community by being an advocate of mental health and to help destigmatize mental illness. Melody wishes to merge her passions of music, writing and mental health together to help others experience the same light they spark in her. She concludes with this thought, “Invest in yourself, it’s the biggest return. Put your mental health in check, mental health is brain health.”
After a child-raising gap in her career, Sana Khouri Accad decided to pursue an M.S. in School Counseling at CSUN and describes it as an extension of her “humanitarian calling.” Sana has had the opportunity to work internationally and locally with refugees and other at-promise youth and through this work, she came to the conclusion that she would like to serve youth in her community. “School counseling will allow me to impact students, to encourage them to reach to meet their educational potential and to empower them with the emotional tools to thrive and to take on the world.”
With Sana’s global perspective, she knew that not any program at any university would do. She strived to find a program that would be as diverse as the communities that she hopes to one day serve, “I chose CSUN for its access to uniquely authentic, diverse, multicultural, voices and identities. My peers in my cohort have given me extremely valuable insights into different realities and worldviews.” She also chose this program because of its licensing option and the future potential of an LPCC.
Sana has gained so much in just one semester and spoke with enthusiasm while reflecting on her courses, “What I appreciate about my classes is the balance of both a theoretical and a practical approach. I came out of my first semester equipped with practical skills, backed by science and research that I could apply right away.” Sana explains the importance of a trusting relationship between a school counselor and the student and how her practicum class taught about the power of listening, “the ability to help someone feel heard is a powerful thing, and as I have learned, listening lights up the brain.”
Sana is looking to work in a local public school with underserved students of color, newcomers, and first-generation college-goers in her community, specifically with teenagers. She wants to be a mental health advocate, help students manage their stress better, cope with anxiety and infuse the benefits of mindfulness. Sana hopes to elevate the school counseling profession by helping the community understand that school counselors are uniquely trained to look at a student holistically, she further explains, “I want to help instill hope in as many students that I can and encourage them to develop life skills in the face of adversity. I have the desire to be a social justice warrior and I can do that by using my voice to advocate for students, families, and the community at large.”