Blanca Rios knew she’d pursue her career goals when she entered the online school counseling master’s degree program at Campbellsville University. She didn’t know that she would get the chance to make a difference in the lives of low-income, first-generation students like her.
With the guidance of dedicated faculty, Blanca completed a research project that allowed her to follow her interests. She began a high school mentoring program that helped low-income, first-generation students find the resources they needed to continue their academic journey after graduation.
Blanca’s Path to School Counseling at Campbellsville University Online
Blanca Rios has been devoted to the success of low-income, first-generation students for over 12 years. As a high school counselor, Blanca loved guiding students through academic advising and college preparation. Blanca’s students inspired her to pursue a master’s in counseling because they knew she wanted to continue making an impact at the college level.
She researched a variety of schools and their online master’s programs, but Blanca fell in love with the curriculum for the school counseling program at Campbellsville University. Online courses in the master’s program infuse ethical and Christian values with counseling theories, trends in education systems, cultural contexts and more.
Along with this comprehensive approach to the field, Blanca valued the benefits of completing her master’s program online. The school counseling program made it possible for her to study and maintain her full-time job at a local high school. Blanca’s situation worked to her advantage because she also needed a research site for her field experience project.
“My research was based on providing mentoring and college information. Would that increase the number of students going to post-secondary education?”
Blanca kept this question in mind as she thought about the best way to connect with the students she wanted to help.
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The Start of Blanca’s Mentoring Program
At the high school where she worked and fulfilled her field experience, Blanca turned to the principal with a research project proposal. She noticed that a low number of graduates were applying to and enrolling in college. Especially graduates who were low-income, first-generation college students. Blanca said, “I would like to implement some type of after-school program where I can meet with a couple of students and provide them with information about college.”
The principal agreed, and Blanca began her mentoring program. Throughout the program, she met with around 12 students and talked through several challenges associated with college. In many conversations, Blanca shared stories from her own experience as the first in her family to go to college. She discovered that several students had misconceptions about the cost of education, so Blanca told students about financial resources such as loans, scholarships, grants, and the California Dream Act, which extends college eligibility to undocumented students, among other populations.
After conversations about ways to afford college, Blanca said that most of these students were “applying to college because they’re aware that, OK, there is money for college” out there. Blanca’s mentoring program worked so well that 10 of the 12 students she mentored applied for a four-year university.
Reflecting on an Exceptional Digital Learning Experience
While reflecting on her research and field experience with Campbellsville University, Blanca said that “going through the whole process and seeing the results was an amazing opportunity.” She welcomed the field experience hours for each class because she was able to take what she studied and immediately apply it hands-on:
“Overall, this program really prepared me. I have learned a lot of theories, and I will know how to apply that into a lot of the real-world situations that students might go through.”
These powerful learning experiences were possible even from out-of-state, which Blanca attributed to her “amazing professors.” Through her school counseling master’s program, faculty held virtual class sessions on Zoom and facilitated discussions so engaging that Blanca felt “like I was there in person. I felt really connected to campus.” She also valued the way that professors were dedicated to their students:
“They really encourage you and motivate you to do really well in their classes. And also they’re very willing and flexible to work with us in terms of assignments.”
Blanca was also able to talk with her faculty about her career path. Her ultimate goal is to use her master’s degree in school counseling to become a counselor at a community college, and she is already on her way.
If you’d like to follow a similar path to an early childhood education career, Campbellsville University’s faculty can help you advance on your academic journey. Learn more about the online Master of Arts in Education: School Counseling or explore all Campbellsville University Online programs to find your best fit.