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MA Educational Counseling, Veteran

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 best fits my interests and potential contribution. I was raised in Richmond, my home, and this is where I want to contribute 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 for underprivileged youth and their families, especially in Richmond, allowing them to overcome cultural and economic hurdles to reach their fullest potential.

I earned a B.S. in Social Psychology while 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 on developing treatment plans, and file progress report for the courts and the parole board. Before this position, I worked as a Program Coordinator for inner city youth, providing academic assistance to children at risk of dropping out of school. Working with adult offenders is especially rewarding when they make a conscious 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 school system's challenges. Last year I developed a Parent Education Resource Ministry program that 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 to help at risk youth reach their fullest potential.

In the future, I would love to see our Parent Education Resource Ministry expand to other states and offer 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. Participating in the Counseling Cohort Program will also allow me to continue my 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's needs.

I study my 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, role model, and everything a counselor should be:   warm, loving, gentle, caring, and disciplined. I tell people that it is essential to have a heartbeat for what they are trying to accomplish. I believe I have natural gifts for counseling people; youth and adults almost always find it easy to confide in me about the essential things going on in their lives. Overcoming my 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 material or political identity, all at the same time. The most significant contribution I could 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 significant to me, and I have even taken my daughter to Africa for 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 suffering from 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.

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