Graduate degree opens door to second career path for Rider student
Kaitlyn Schmid found herself in the midst of a dilemma two years ago. After completing her master's in sports management and beginning a job as a college basketball coach, she realized she wasn't happy in her career choice.
Unsure about her next steps, she was confident that she wanted her next career to be focused on helping others.
"At my last job, I loved my connection with my student-athletes," she says. "They came to me for academic and social concerns, and I really felt I could make a good impact. I thought I could reach such a broad array of students and give them access to services they needed."
Now she is graduating with a Master of Arts in Counseling Services with a concentration in school counseling from Rider. She also has multiple job offers for a counselor position at local high schools.
"I came in with the idea of school counseling and left with so much more," she says. "Because I had the experience of being in a profession I wasn’t happy in, I wanted to dive in headfirst and get the most out of the program."
During her two years in the program, Schmid certainly made the most of her time, completing three field experiences at local high schools and elementary schools, and conducting two research studies with Dr. Christina Peterson, chair of the Department of Graduate Education, Leadership, and Counseling.
"In my experiences, I was able to really help students dealing with heavy issues," she says. "My role is to help them make the transition to get down a better path and to a better level of functioning."
Schmid's dedication to her newfound profession was recognized through her receipt of the Lincoln Scott Walter Award, which is awarded to the graduating counseling student who has shown outstanding contributions to the counseling program and has an outstanding academic record. Dr. Juleen Buser, director of the school counseling and coaching programs, praised Schmid's research involvement for not only creating programs but implementing them as well.
One such research project was developing an evidence-based student assistant counselor curriculum applicable for grades K-12 that encompassed a wide variety of issues ranging from social and emotional needs to drug and alcohol abuse. The curriculum was proposed to Princeton Public Schools for implementation.
"The pressures and expectations for students are so high across the board," she says. "There is an immense amount of stress and anxiety. I help provide resiliency and coping skills, but I wanted to develop a program that’s evidence-based that will help them have positive outcomes."
Schmid is pursuing her licensure to become a licensed professional counselor and will graduate with a life and career coaching certificate and a student assistance coordinator certificate from Rider. In the fall she will pursue a play therapy certification as well.
"My world is so wide open now because I have so many credentials," she says.
While taking a leap of faith and changing her career path was a terrifying thought at first, Schmid was thankful she made a chance phone call to Rider.
"I was so scared because I was supposed to be on my career path and I wasn’t," she says. "I was calling a bunch of different schools to get more information about their counseling programs and Rider was the only one that truly took the time to make sure I had all my questions answered. I must have spent 45 minutes on the phone with Admissions. While it was a scary time, once I took my first class, I remember taking a deep breath and I said to myself, 'This is where I'm meant to be.'"