November 7, 2022

Department Spotlight: Jennifer Madsen

Jennifer Madsen with her Family

Jennifer Madsen is a second year student in the USU School Counseling Education Program. After getting her undergraduate degree in 2019, Jennifer found her passion for helping students overcome obstacles. Jennifer decided to pursue a master's degree to help students on a larger scale reach their potential. 

Why did you choose USU?

I chose Utah State because I moved to a small town that is lucky enough to have one of the statewide campuses. The format of being one night a week was very appealing. It made this degree very accessible, and it was perfect for my circumstances.

Why did you decide to pursue a degree in school counselor education?

After being an at-home parent for two decades, I finished my undergraduate degree from Utah State University in 2019. I wanted to earn my bachelor's degree as a personal accomplishment, but I did not intend to pursue a career. With my kids growing a little bit older and more independent, I took a position at our local high school and really enjoyed helping seniors recover credit and prepare for graduation. I loved witnessing their joy as they overcame obstacles and achieved their potential. I realized I wanted to help students on a larger scale, and I began researching this program that would allow me to be a licensed school counselor. 

What were your goals when you started the program? And how do those compare to your current aspirations?

As a recovering perfectionist, I wanted to focus on learning more than grades while in this program. During my undergraduate degree I stressed about getting perfect grades, but I knew that my training for school counseling would be enhanced if my focus was on preparing to apply the material I was taught. It has helped me relax and think of the needs of my future students with each course I take. I consider teenagers to be insightful, honest, and a lot of fun, and I look forward to working with them at the secondary level. 

What is the most important thing you have learned in the school counselor education program?

The most important thing I have learned is that I am the captain of my own experience. My depth of learning is dependent upon my efforts. When I am more engaged, my whole outlook and performance are better. 

What Advice do you have for other students in the school counselor education program, or to those considering applying?

I was really worried about taking on the commitment of graduate school when my family responsibilities were so great. With a solid support system, however, I have found much success. I am pleased to provide an example to my children on the importance of education and pursuing dreams. My advice is to not be afraid of hard things. This degree can be accomplished even if you are a nontraditional student like me.

Who influenced you most during your time at USU?

My husband, Heath, has definitely been my biggest fan from day one. He has helped me realize just how capable I am and gets me through the days where I doubt myself. He is a USU grad and high school teacher, and we enjoy sharing ideas about secondary school together. My kids have had to learn flexibility and to rely on each other a bit more through this time. I am constantly thankful for this love and support. I truly am surrounded by extended family and friends that have always been behind me in my pursuits and make it all possible. Within USU, two of my biggest influences have been my classmates Jaime and Gayle. I am thankful for their examples of integrity and kindness. I was also able to be part of the program staff with Dr. Jessie Koltz and Kelli Palma, and I consider them to be profoundly influential in both my student experience and in modeling professional collaboration and advocacy. I will forever be grateful for what I learned as part of that team.