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My first choice for graduate study is XXXX University in Richmond, Virginia. This is the only school to which I am applying because I feel strongly that the program at XXXX is the best fit for my interests and potential contribution. I was raised in Richmond, it is my home, and this is where I want to make my contribution to society. I want to go to graduate school because I very much want to spend the rest of my professional life working with inner city youth as part of the educational system. I look forward to helping develop comprehensive services to underprivileged youth and their families, especially in Richmond, helping them to overcome cultural and economic hurdles so as to reach their fullest potential.
I earned a B.S. in Social Psychology at the same time that I was a member of the U.S. military. After both graduating and leaving the military in 1993, I have held several jobs, all of which in some way or another have helped to lay the experiential foundation for becoming a professional counselor. For the last ten years, in particular, I have worked as a rehabilitation counselor with the department of corrections and the Petersburg Sheriff's Office where I facilitate various groups such as parenting, anger management, breaking barriers, women's empowerment, and the development of social skills.
I also provide individual and group counseling, work in the development of treatment plans, and file progress reports for the courts and the parole board. Prior to this position, I worked as a Program Coordinator for inner city youth, where I provided academic assistance to children who were at risk for dropping out of school. I find working with adult offenders to be especially rewarding when they make a conscience decision to reform their lives. Nevertheless, my heart will always be with disadvantaged youth in the inner city and the crucial need for parental support, helping their children with the challenges of the school system. Last year I developed a program called Parent Education Resource Ministry which helps parents advocate for appropriate academic services for their children and provides them with behavioral modification strategies for both home and school. I am especially interested in fostering collaborative efforts that build strategic alliances between parents, church, school, and community in order to help at risk youth reach their fullest potential.
In the future, I would love to see our Parent Education Resource Ministry expanded to other states and offering a full range of family and individual counseling, mentoring, tutorial assistance etc. It is primarily for this reason that I ask for your help to become a licensed professional Counselor as a result of my study in your Master's Program at XXXX. I look forward to the opportunity to do extensive research in the field of disadvantaged youth and the education system as part of my course work. Being able to participate in the Counseling Cohort Program will also allow me to continue my own personal obligations as a parent and caregiver. I too had a challenging youth, especially since my mother abandoned the family when I was seven; my father was an alcoholic who struggled to provide for the family needs.
I study my own learning problems in memory and often reflect on the positive impact of my first guidance Counselor, who took me under her wing and nurtured me. Her support was what I most longed for at that time in my life, in high school, and my grades started to improve. She was my hero, my role model, everything a counselor is supposed to be: warm, loving, gentle, caring, and disciplined. I tell people that it is important to have a heartbeat for what it is that they are trying to accomplish. I believe that I have natural gifts for counseling people; both youth and adults almost always find it easy to confide in me about the important things that are going on in their lives. Overcoming my own barriers and obstacles to human fruition has provided me with a foundation upon which I can help others. I put my heart and soul into my work.
Much of my self confidence and inspiration springs from my current work as the leader of our Parent Education Resource Ministry at my church, where we help to provide services for youth in the inner city. The fact that I seek to combine my activity in the church with that of a professional participant in our secular educational structure speaks to me concerning what I most love about America, and Virginia: the celebration of our diversity, religious faith, and secular or political identity, all at the same time. The greatest contribution that I might be able to make to society would be to help design parental support systems that will result in healthier, more positive minded children and productive citizens. I have dedicated my life to God as an advocate for the provision of education and counseling services to those of our children who are most in need.
As a woman of color, my heritage is very important to me, and I have even taken my daughter to Africa in a first hand exploration of our roots. This has helped my daughter to see the value of working hard at her studies. I joined the United States Military in 1986 because I wanted to break the cycle of unwed mothers/high school dropouts/living in poverty that had plagued my family. I became a Behavioral Science Specialist and worked with individuals who suffered from various troubling mental conditions or personality disorders. I was responsible for administering and scoring psychological, behavioral, and educational assessments and recording observations. While stationed at FT. Lee, Virginia, I volunteered at the local battled women's shelter. There, I developed plans of action and referred women and their families to agencies that could provide support and assistance for victims of domestic violence. It was at this point that I came to see my professional destiny in counseling. I want to thank you for your consideration of my application.