What was your greatest accomplishment when you were at UCF?
I am a recipient of the Order of Pegasus. It is the highest honor that a student can receive at UCF. Out of 65,000 students, I was one of 19 students so I got to sit on stage at my college graduation, and it was really exciting for me. That was due to having been so involved.
Why is being involved so important to you?
There are things that you can learn in a classroom and there are things that you learn interacting with people and being involved in an organization gives you the opportunity to develop those life skills because you are constantly collaborating, problem solving, working with various different personalities and keep people from all different backgrounds. It develops skills and you that you can’t learn from a textbook and those are things that are life lessons, not just how to get an A in a class.
Why did you want to become a school counselor?
Being a school counselor seemed like the perfect career for me because I’m really passionate about helping students. I was a teacher for two years and before that, I knew that my ultimate goal was to be a school counselor because I felt like I could reach students on a different level. I’ve worked in elementary, middle and high school but something that’s really exciting to me about high school is I can see the finish line of graduation and I get to have a hand and ensuring that students achieve that milestone.
How did you start running a small therapy group?
From being involved, I developed a really strong relationship with one of my professors and she owns a private practice. When it came time to do my internship for my undergraduate degree, she asked me to be a group facilitator for them. I loved it and I continued after graduating now it’s like a little side job for me because I find it to be very fun.
What does being a group facilitator entail?
These are children who have different struggles socially. They have a hard time making or keeping friends, maintaining conversations or understanding personal space. Those little social competencies that are born with and others have to learn so it kind of just helps them practice how to build relationships that they can be more successful.
What was your most exciting day when you worked in the office of UCF’s former president John Hitt?
The most exciting day when I worked in the Office of the President was when I got to do VIP tours for big donors of the university or other prominent people. I would take you on a tour of the school and one of the people that I was able to give a tour for is Dick Nunis and he is one of the creators of Epcot. After that tour, he enjoyed our time so he took me and my fiance to courtside seats at a UCF basketball game. We got to spend a day with him and that was very exciting for us because we are big Disney people.
Who was your role model growing up? Why?
My role model is my dad. I was raised by a single dad and he has sacrificed everything to give me the opportunities that I have been able to have, and I could not be more grateful or inspired by somebody by their work ethic and determination and selflessness. I don’t think that there is any better person in the world than my dad.
Has any child you’ve worked with specifically inspired you in a way?
This sounds so cliche but every student inspires me in their own way. A student that I would say kind of has been a very proud moment for me is one who I worked with at an elementary school and he had a really hard time trusting people. He wanted nothing to do with me when I first started working at the school and by the time I left, he was telling people that I was his favorite teacher. To know that I had an impact on him personally to make him feel that way knowing that that’s so hard for him to do was just really special for me.