Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

In middle school, I had a counselor with a mission to advocate for little black and brown girls like myself, who didn’t understand her value or worth. Redheaded and green-eyed, Dr. Denny was the epitome of patience and grace. From listening to my boy problems, to group counseling me through my many bad decisions in friends, she shaped the way I viewed myself. During a time when people like me had to catch a bus and ride hours to get to a “better school”, Dr. Denny didn’t treat me like another number on her caseload. If her door was open, she was willing to listen. Dr. Denny was definitely a pivotal person in my life that shaped the way I think and interact with adolescents today. She equipped me with the resilience I would need to walk into territories that my family never dreamed of.
Then of course, there had to be a counselor that was the exact opposite! This high school counselor’s specific concern was the college of my choice. He was very adamant that I attend a small college in my hometown. Being the first in my family to go to college, I knew I didn’t want to settle. However, in his office, I suddenly felt like I didn’t have any other choice but to settle. I felt the exact opposite of how I felt in Dr. Denny’s office. I knew, in that cold chair, that I was simply another number on his caseload. Thankful for the resilience built by Dr. Denny, I attended a college that I was told I wouldn’t get into and went on to be the first in my family to graduate from college! Though both of these experiences shaped my desire to become a school counselor, Dr. Denny’s lasting impact motivated me to promote the positive development of the whole student and ultimately seek a master’s in school counseling and be to those girls, who Dr. Denny was to me.

Ashley from Georgia
New York University