February 6, 2023

Department Spotlight: Laura Rupper

Photo of Laura Rupper
Laura Rupper is a current student in the Professional School Counselor Education MEd program here at USU. After earning an undergraduate degree in Human Biology, Laura worked in a variety of positions in K-12 school settings where she discovered a love for teaching and a desire to help students succeed. Laura is also a published author and hopes to one day apply her love of writing to create a useful resource for future school counselors. 

Why did you choose USU?

I chose USU because I love the school and have always believed that USU provides a quality education for a really reasonable price. I also valued the flexibility of an evening program that would allow me to continue working. I do part time work in the elementary school. In 2020 I had a middle grade fantasy book, Nora and the Sacred Stones, accepted to be published. USU's program allowed me to continue doing other jobs that I love.

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

My bachelor's degree is in Human Biology. I worked as a research assistant then stayed home with my three kids. Over the years I took multiple part time jobs that revolved around my kids' schedules. One job was teaching a gifted math program in an elementary school. Another was teaching orchestra in an elementary school. I also worked for DWS tutoring high school students so they could get their GED. To my surprise, these jobs helped me realize that I'm not as much of an introvert as I thought. I love teaching and I also love working one-on-one with students. After talking to my cousin who is a school counselor, I decided that school counseling would be a great fit. 

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

My goals when I started the program were to really jump in and learn how to be a good school counselor and to be open to learning new things. Those goals are still there, but now I see my weaknesses more clearly, and I can list specific things I need to do to improve as a counselor. One aspiration that is relatively new is that I see bibliotherapy as a huge asset for an elementary school counselor. I love reading Clark the Shark or Jabari Jumps or What Do You Do With An Idea to my elementary students. Stories teach! I have the hope that I can apply my love of writing to create something useful for school counseling. This idea is still pretty vague - so we'll see if I get any inspirations. I hope to work part-time as a counselor and still have time to write.

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

Sometimes it can feel overwhelming coming to this job as an older adult. I don't have a long career in front of me, and technology doesn't come as naturally to me as it does to younger school counselors. I have learned that my cohort is made up of unbelievably kind people who want to help. Resources are shared freely and when I reach out, I've always received the advice and direction I need. 

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

Follow a counselor around for a day. Dive in and figure out the difference between what a counselor at an elementary school versus a high school looks like. Ask lots of questions about what the counselor likes and dislikes about their work day. My intern supervisor said that she believes the greatest quality for a counselor is reflective listening. I would think about whether or not listening to others is something you think you would enjoy doing for work. 

Who influenced you most during your time at USU?

I don't feel that there has been just one person who has influenced me the most. My experience has been a wealth of instructors as well as my cohort influencing me. I would be in a class and someone would make a comment that I knew was for my benefit, or an instructor would model a skill that I knew I wanted in my own practice. Because of the people I've been lucky enough to associate with, I am a better listener and teacher than when I entered it.