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You Better Watch Out—Recent Grad Succeeds in Psychology
02.11.16 |
“You have to break it down. Focus on the little steps while still seeing the big picture,” said Michell Santa, a recent 2015 graduate.

She was referring to the process of providing therapy for people who have disabilities, but she might as well have been referring to her own educational process.

Earning her degree in psychology took 10 years, but for good reasons. Between two schools, an internship, service in the Army Reserves, and deployment to Afghanistan, Santa has persevered through the difficulties that come with college studies and military service. Surprisingly, she was optimistic about the amount of work inherent in this process, stating that her lack of free time actually motivated her to stay ahead of her studies, not to mention the support of her family and friends.

“I’m not saying that it was easy, but it maintained my desire to keep going,” said Santa.

Even more surprising is the way that Santa’s varied experiences intersect. During her deployment, she was tasked with managing logistics, dealing with the interactions between the Army and military contractors. Leading others and trying to satisfy all parties involved took her out of her comfort zone, but set a valuable precedent for the kinds of challenges she might face as a psychiatric counselor. In time, she became used to keeping a cool head in an environment that turns poor communication into disaster.

Santa’s desire to become a counselor is rooted in her inherent desire to help people. As a child, she grappled with figuring out her career path, eventually learning that she had a penchant for assisting with personal troubles.

“One day, I was talking to a friend who was going through a difficult situation, and I realized that I enjoyed talking to people and listening to what they have to say,” said Santa.

From there, Santa attended Penn State for a year before moving to Lebanon and eventually coming to The Valley, intrigued by her repeated trips past the campus. Though it had been a long time since she had attended any sort of institution, she cites Dr. Louis Laguna, chair and professor of psychology, as one of the many helpful staff members that helped her through the process. Though LVC does not specialize in part time degrees, Santa nevertheless found a schedule that earned her a degree. Her educational journey is not at an end, with plans to attend Biblical Theological Seminary to earn the skills necessary to become a full-fledged counselor.

“It may have been challenging, but they didn’t just give me a book to memorize,” said Santa. “I needed to put what I learned into action.”

It has been a busy 10 years for Santa, but her determination has earned her a psychology degree and a new perspective on what it means to help others.


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