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Student Profile: Alisa Zemke, Master’s in Guidance and Counseling
Alisa Zemke is a student in the Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling program. Like so many students in the program, she values the ability to continue working while she earns her degree, and is planning on using her degree as a stepping stone into the world of counseling. Alisa was among the few CityU students selected for the June Garsparovich Scholarship, which is a scholarship for paraprofessionals in the Seattle School District who want to become teachers or counselors. This CityU scholarship is co-sponsored by Seattle Schools.
When sitting down with Alisa, here is what she had to tell us about her experience at CityU and
City University of Seattle (CU): Tell us a little bit more about yourself! What program are you enrolled in at CityU? What brought you here?
Alisa Zemke (AZ): I’m enrolled in CityU’s Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling program. I got my Bachelor’s degree at Western Washington University in 2009. After graduating, I began work with the Seattle School District as a Speech Pathologist Assistant. In 2012, I decided to pursue a career in counseling and realized CityU’s program would be a good fit for me.
City U’s program allowed me to continue working full time while taking classes. It was a good mixture of online learning as well as in-class experience on Saturdays.
CU: What’s your experience at CityU been like so far – what’s good, what’s great, what might you have done differently if you could go back and start over?
AZ: I have had a very positive experience at CityU. The class size is small and our cohort has become extremely close over the past 2 years. The instructors know all of us on a personal level and are incredibly supportive. Having been in the profession themselves, they are able to teach us from their real life experiences. Initially I thought it would be a chore to go to class every Saturday, but because I have had such great relationships with the people in my cohort and our teachers I truly looked forward to going to school every week!
CU: Was your degree something you felt you needed to obtain in order to take a professional step forward?
AZ: Yes. I wanted to move up from an assistant position to a certified position. Because I went straight into working after my undergraduate degree, I was able to see the various positions in the school district and recognized that a school counseling profession would be the perfect fit for me.
CU: What do you envision is going to be your biggest challenge after graduation? How are you planning on addressing those challenges?
AZ: My biggest challenge will be finding a counseling job after graduation. Counseling positions are competitive, and I anticipate that I will need to apply many times to many different positions and districts. I am flexible with what school level I will work at, so that keeps my options more open, and I will address those challenges by being persistent and not giving up if I don’t get hired right away.
CU: Any advice for future graduates who might be traveling the same path you are?
AZ: Forming close relationships with those in the program will be so beneficial. Having that support system will be so helpful anytime you have questions or concerns. I feel so lucky that I looked forward to coming to class each week because of all of the friends in my cohort I would get to see. Each person had their own unique past experiences which made it so interesting to be in class and learn from each other. If you are interning at a school during your 2nd year of the program, make sure you go out of your way to get to know as many of your colleagues in the building as possible. Making those connections will provide you with the best opportunities to get the most out of your internship experience.
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