November 16, 2021

Department Spotlight: Justin Bassett

Justin Bassett with wife and dog

Justin Bassett is a senior student in the USU Professional School Counselor Education program. Justin has completed two years of program coursework and is now finishing the required internship hours. Justin worked with kids transitioning from adolescence to adulthood and turned his passion for psychology into a passion for helping kids find their inner potential.

Why did you choose USU?

I originally came to USU to earn my undergraduate degree. There were a few reasons I chose USU: friends, proximity to my family, affordability. On top of that, I had heard a lot of really great things about the psychology program.

When I began my academic career at USU, I knew that I needed to earn a master’s degree if I wanted to do much in psychology. My original plan was to earn my bachelor’s at USU, then a master’s through a different institution. My plans changed once I put roots down here in Cache Valley. I loved it here and could not see myself leaving unless it was necessary.

Why did you decide to pursue a degree in professional school counseling?

I had the opportunity to work with some young men, and they taught me quite a bit. I spent two years working with the same group of kids as they made their transitions from adolescence into adulthood and had to learn how to navigate their lives. I was able to see just how much it meant to them to have just a single person in their corner, rooting for them and telling them that they had value and potential.

I have known for a long time that I wanted to do something that mattered and that I wanted to work with people. These kids mattered. The kids growing up now matter, and I want them to know that there is at least one person in their life that will fight to help them find happiness and success.

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

When I started the program, I pictured myself working in a university helping students become the kind of adults who were going to change the world. I thought I would start a career and work into an administrative position or a state position. I considered teaching college courses someday. 

Currently, I find myself sitting in a middle school working with kids who barely know how to be people. They cry. They scream. They lack organizational and time management skills. They leave Berry Colossal Crunch all over my desk and floor...and I love it. 

Helping these students begin the process of becoming young adults is incredible. There is so much potential in that middle school, and many students are completely ignorant of it. Getting to watch students learn and grow has been an incredible experience. Maybe one day I will try my hand at something like administration or teaching, but right now all I can see myself doing is being in the schools working to help these students see the potential that they possess.

What is the most important thing you learned in the professional school counseling program?

It is okay not to know everything. On my first day in class, I expected to be the only person who didn’t know what I was getting myself into, turns out I wasn’t alone in that. On my first day working in a school, I was surprised to find that even seasoned school counselors have questions on a regular basis. Learning is a lifelong process, and we have to give ourselves the grace to know that it’s okay if we don’t know all the answers.

What advice do you have for other students in the professional school counseling program, or to those considering applying?

Don't be afraid to jump in. There are going to be challenges that arise, things that are difficult or uncomfortable or scary, and you just have to do it.

Every day at middle school I find myself confronted with some new situation or question. There often isn’t time to second guess, you just have to do it. If you really apply yourself to the program, you will have the tools that you need to be able to successfully navigate whatever these students (or their parents) throw at you.

Who influenced you most during your time at USU?

During my time at USU, there have been a great many people who have influenced and supported me. My parents, Eric and Karina, offered advice and support in the best and worst of times. My older sister Janelle navigated the world of postsecondary education and was an example for me and my other sisters. My younger sisters, Janessa and Jessica, were always willing to talk if I ever needed a listening ear. My grandfather, Papito, checked in often to make sure that I was eating well and that I knew he was thinking about me. Finally, my best friends, Jake, Zack, Ben, Tanner, Jordan, Ryan, JC, and Sean, to name a few.

Some amazing graduate students looked out for me, as well as some great faculty. I even got to work at USU for a while with great people like Scott Olson and John Cockett. And of course, my beautiful wife Sami was there to pick up the slack that I left while trying to juggle full-time work and my studies. I honestly believe that all of these people were instrumental in helping me to find success during my time at USU.