March 5, 2024

Department Spotlight: Rachel Hollingsworth

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Rachel Hollingsworth discovered a passion for helping students while earning her undergraduate degree, which lead to her finding a home and community within our M.Ed. school counseling program. Rachel had many opportunities to get hands on experience during her education helping launch her into a career that she loves. 

Why did you choose USU?
As a Cache Valley native, I have always loved USU! My parents and siblings are die-hard Aggies, and I always knew this is where I wanted to go to college. I attended USU during my undergrad and I had a great experience. I loved the atmosphere on campus, events, and resources available for students. I met amazing people, including my husband while going to school. I knew that USU had a great school counseling program, so attending USU for my master’s program was my number one choice!

Why did you decide to pursue a degree in school counselor education?
During the last semester of my senior year in the Human Development and Family Studies bachelor program, I participated in a practicum at a local high school working with the counseling office. While there, I realized that I loved working with high school students and the counseling team. After I graduated, I took a gap year and worked at the high school full time as a VISTA while applying to the master’s program at USU.

What were your goals when you started the program? And how do those compare to your current aspirations?
When I first started the program, my goal was to become a high school counselor. In the back of my mind, I was also interested in learning more about positions available in higher education. I have family that work in higher education and in a K-12 setting, so I wanted to keep an open mind to both career avenues. During the program, I worked as a College Access Advisor in a high school and realized that I loved helping students figure out their career goals and helping them with their post-high plans. This led me to start looking into job shadowing opportunities in higher education, which then led me to find a full-time position in the USU Career Design Center as a Career Specialist. I’m grateful for my experiences working at a high school and at a university and I feel like I’m exactly where I need to be with my career.

What is the most important thing you have learned in the school counselor education program?
The most important thing I’ve learned in this program is that it’s all about relationships. Building relationships with your counseling team, administrators, secretaries, teaching staff, custodians, and other support staff, will make a huge difference to the impact that you can have. With students it’s important set appropriate boundaries while supporting their personal, social, and academic growth.

What advice do you have for other students in the school counselor education program, or for those considering applying?
If you haven’t worked with a school counseling team/school counselor before, now’s the time to get involved! Whether you set up a job shadow and observe them for a day or apply to work in the counseling office, these experiences will be crucial in helping you decide where you want to work and what type of counselor you want to be. Be open to opportunities you never know where they can lead you!

Who influenced you most during your time at USU?
There were many people who made a positive impact on my time in the USU school counseling program; the Logan cohort, MCHS counseling team, professors/instructors, and my family. I had the privilege of going through the program with my younger sister Jenny and I loved having her support throughout our program. I will always cherish my experience in the USU school counseling program because of the people who made it so valuable!