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Masters Counseling, MTF, Immigrant Romania

July 26, 2015


Why have you chosen the profession of Counseling for graduate study?A recent immigrant from Romania, I have now been living in the US for two years working very hard at bringing my English skills up to a professional level. I worked as a practicing psychologist for 1 year in Romania before I immigrated to the USA at a nursing home, studying and working with patients with Alzheimer’s who came to adore and still miss very much to this day. I also volunteered in my country as a group facilitator and counselor at a shelter for domestic violence victims. I currently volunteer at Southwest Hospital in City, State, where I help discharge patients. I pay special attention to the counselors that I work with in the hospital and I am learning a great deal by befriending them. They have also encouraged me to apply to graduate school in counseling.

Now 35, my studies have led me to the firm conclusion that mental health challenges are best addressed in the context of the family. For this reason, I have decided to focus my Master’s Studies in the area of Marriage and Family Therapy and your competitive program at Akron University is my first choice for graduate study primarily because of your strength in this area of Counseling Psychology.

I hope to contribute to the celebration of diversity in your program as a woman, an immigrant, and someone with a lifetime of experience as an ethnic minority. Since I was born into a Russian community in Romania, my first language was Russian. Only when I went to school did I learn the Romanian language along with Romanian cultural values, attitudes, and biases as well, including negative stereotypes of Russians. 30 years later I have been living through the struggle of integration once again, and, I like to think, with equal success.

Why have you chosen the specific master’s program you selected? Becoming a professional counselor here in my adopted land means fulfilling my heart's desire, quenching my intellectual curiosity and reconstructing my profession on a new level all at the same time. My determination to pursue the study of counseling on a professional level dates from an early curiosity that I had to learn about brain function. Another prominent factor that helped to set me on a course towards further professional study in psychology was the fact that my mother was misdiagnosed with a personality disorder and administered a treatment that turned her into a withdrawn lethargic before my eyes. The desire to help my mother was a great spark that ignited my passion for mental health issues. It is for these reasons that I switched my major of study as an undergraduate from linguistics to psychology. My have instructors have served me as role models and inspired me to embrace psychology as a career because of my enthusiasm for our field. Last but certainly not least, I have benefitted personal from counseling, all of which makes me especially eager to study psychology on a graduate level at Akron.

It is my intention to focus on the Marriage & Family Counseling track as a student in your program at XXXX for a number of reasons. First, my own experience as an immigrant together with my observations of other immigrants have provided me with both an awareness and a passion for addressing the special mental health challenges faced by immigrant families. I am also aware of and seek to respond to the especially great need that exists for counseling and family therapy within my own immigrant community as well as other immigrant communities generally speaking. Becoming a professional psychologist in the USA and re-creating my profession in a new language and a new system, represent a very special triumph for me as both a professional and a recent immigrant.

I am also concerned with the fact that 50% of marriages in the USA will end in divorce at current levels. I believe that this fact alone highlights well the need for more marriage counseling. I would consider it to be a great privilege to assist people to overcome stressful situations and to fend off challenges to a successful, functional family life. This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why the professional prospects for family therapists are very good.

Comment on the extent that you are acquainted with the counseling master’s degree programs offered by The University of XXXX. After thoroughly reviewing a substantial number of programs in counseling I have chosen to apply to the Marriage & Family Counseling track in your program at the University of Akron. The University of Akron offers a diversity of master's degree programs which constantly produce stellar graduates, a fact reflected by the high pass rates for your graduates on the licensure examination. I am also drawn towards your particular program due to its dual COAMFTE and CACREP accreditations which offer a dual licensure track. Your students also have high levels of success in internship placement and excellent post-graduate employment opportunities. Most of all, however, is my dream of participating in clinical training through the Clinic for Individual & Family Counseling since this would allow me to work with the populations of my interest. I feel strongly that I am a good fit with your program at Akron University because of the diversity of students that you help to become multiculturally competent counselors helping their respective communities.

Describe any professional or volunteer work experiences which you have had related to your career goals. I am very pleased to have had the experience of working as a psychologist in Romania before coming to America, spending one year at a nursing home as a psychologist. My principal responsibilities were to conduct clinical interviews, to assess and record daily functioning status, to guided therapeutically interventions, and organize recreational activities. This experience gave me an insight into the broad variety of family dynamics that are an integral part of facing up to mental health challenges. Prior to my year in the nursing home, I completed an internship at a local domestic violence shelter as a victim counselor, facilitated group counseling and providing community education and problem solving assistance. Since moving to the US I have stayed busy working at Southwest Hospital and I have also learned a lot as a result of my work helping to discharge patients, which has also improved my communication skills in English enormously.

Describe your personal characteristics/strengths that will contribute to your being an effective counselor. I consider myself a solid candidate due to the relevance of my volunteer and professional experiences, on the one hand, and my education on the other. I am highly motivated and persistent. Mature, calm and very emotionally stable, I am most often praised for my listening and observation skills along with my empathy. I have consistently pursued my dream. My career switch happened early on, since I was 26 years old when I decided that working in an office does not fulfill me and a degree in languages is not what I want. It wasn't like a moment of epiphany but, rather, the result of a persistent and growing passion to be able to make sense of my social world in psychological terms. It was a persistent attention and inclination to find and explain  things around me in a psychological way. Early on I came to the conclusion that that if I want to know the ultimate cause for everything I have to understand the human mind.

In adolescence I remember myself having a lot of friends that shared their secrets because they knew that they could trust me. Then, when I heard that my older friends were reading Freud and Jung, I started to read these authors, although I did not understand them very well at the time, clearly, they stayed with me. In my Romanian culture many girls became teachers because this was a safe option that my parents wanted. Thus, I became a teacher and went on to study Russian and French languages. After graduation I found employment in an international pharmaceutical company. Psychology was seen as a rather extravagant option, a fancy choice with nebulous outcomes and I was not really permitted such fanciful choice early on. I studied hard and with pleasure. After earning my masters degree in clinical psychology I was lucky to find a job in this field. I was thrilled to land the position at the nursing home. It was the most fulfilling period of my life. But I got married to an American citizen and here I am. It was a difficult decision to make because I knew that I would have to put my career in psychology on hold for the time being. But now I have been here in the USA for two years and I am completely free to fully immerse myself in graduate studies.

What is your computer competence and literacy and how will you become more competent?   I have completed 50 hours of training in Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques and Clinical Hypnosis at AHPCC, Bucharest Romania. I consider myself to be very computer literate but also entirely self-educated in this area. I thank you for considering my application to your program.

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