Introducing the Graduate School Blog Series: A Story
Remembering my own journey to graduate school, I recall the many questions that I had, and in fact, the many questions that I didn’t even know I ought to be asking. I wondered, for example, if I had enough research experience or the kind of skills to thrive in a graduate-level context. One thing that I most certainly recall being significant were specific individuals who spoke information and wisdom, as well confidence, into me. Without these key individuals, most of whom were faculty in my undergraduate program, I likely would not have had either the tangible skills or self-confidence to
pursue graduate education. Today, I am incredibly humbled and honored to sit on the other side of that conversation, providing guidance and encouragement to students who are interested in pursuing graduate education, and specifically to speak truth into those who I see great potential in, even when they have not seen it yet. If I could offer you encouragement today, please spend time with your professors, seek their input and advice, risk trusting them with your dreams and fears – we are rooting for you more than you will ever know!
As an undergraduate student I majored in psychology, and pursuing a graduate degree in psychology was the logical next step – – and as it turned out, a great choice and fit for me! Though, there are several degree options in the field of psychology to choose from. For example, here at CBU we offer graduate degrees in Counseling Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Sport and Performance Psychology, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and even a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. Additionally, we have two degrees closely related to psychology: Social Work and Counseling Ministry. In my journey, I selected a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, but specifically chose a program that focused on cultural psychology and international psychology, as I knew these emphases were of interest to me. As a graduate student I had two really amazing opportunities afforded to me, first the opportunity to conduct my graduate level research – field work in Brazil – and second to work as a graduate teaching assistant for the program that I was enrolled in. Engaging in these experiences allowed me to find the environment that I truly loved and flourished in – higher education. While many students enjoy learning and obtaining an education, most often, their goal is to obtain their degree and move into their career. For me, I knew that I had found my career in higher education and that I never wanted to leave! Therefore, the next step was to obtain my doctoral degree; given my experiences, expertise, and interests, a degree in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Global Studies was a natural choice.
From time to time I have been asked why I switched career paths or fields of study from Counseling Psychology to Higher Education (though I don’t actually see it that way). As I reflect upon God’s incredible providence as He has woven my story, each degree, experience, and educational encounter were essential elements and preparation for the work that God has called me to do. From this, I remind and challenge students to courageously pursue the plans that God has for them, knowing that no two stories will be the same. In fact, one the reasons that I am so thankful to serve as the Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences here at CBU is because we are serious about walking with you, our student, as you seek to discern your calling and live your purpose.
Stories can be powerful and deeply personal. I share a little bit of my journey here to invite you into thinking about what your journey might look like. What is God preparing you for? How has he developed in you interests and ideas that can be applied for the benefit of His Kingdom? I invite you into these questions. In the coming weeks, the CSHB will be highlighting several of the graduate programs here at CBU. Read along, engage, and follow-up with your professors. Who knows, perhaps this is the beginning of the same wisdom and information process that started my own journey when I was in your shoes.
Jacqueline Gustafson is the Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, and Associate Professor of Psychology, at California Baptist University. Her professional passions include innovation in curriculum and program development, increasing educational access and equity for underserved populations, global leadership policy and praxis, and living and leading with intentionality and courage. She began her professional journey, beginning college at 16 and earning her B.A. degree in Psychology from Northwest College, an M.A. in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in International Psychology from Northwest University, a Post-M.A. in International Community Development from Northwest University, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership with a dual emphasis in higher education administration and global studies from Seattle University.
Check out all the posts in the series here:
Dr. Gustafson, thank you for sharing a bit about your story! Thinking about and preparing for graduate school is such an important part of many journeys (some completed, some in the works, and some still in the thinking, planning, wondering, and praying phase!). Wherever readers are, I hope they will take some time to reflect and really lean into the CBU community to help guide them through their own journey.
Thank you for sharing. As we walk through life, sometimes it seems like we are just stumbling around in the dark. However, when you get a little further down the road and look back you realize that the Lord had a master plan that was even more perfect than you could have imagined. If we just trust Him and consistently follow the passions He has placed in us we will end up exactly where we need to be. I hope this encourages our students who feel like they are stumbling in the dark.
Thank you for sharing your journey and reminding us that God has a plan for us all and that our professors are here to help us succeed. I think at times we become overwhelmed and forget these things. It is important to remember that when we are feeling lost and unsure we can always turn to God and our professors for guidance. After reading this post I feel comforted in the fact that those we look up to were once in the same position that we are in now. I also feel encouraged and excited to pursue the next step in my education and see where my journey leads me!
The blog that stood out to me was “Introducing the graduate school blog series: A story” by my professor. It spoke to me because I am in this position right now. As I come closer to completing my undergrad degree, it is obvious to look for what my next steps are. I actually believe God called me to read this exact blog because I have been struggling this week with school and feeling discouraged about graduate school. Being a student that requires more work than other students, I was starting to question whether I can handle the next level education. What hit me in this blog was the questions that were written to ask ourselves, “What is God preparing you for?” My journey as a student throughout my life has been anything but a walk in the park. As I look back, I know every single setback had its individual lesson and I learned ultimately that God makes no mistakes. After reading this blog, I have faith in God that he will handle any of my worries and if graduate school is in His path for me then He will put this opportunity in front of me.
Thank you for a refreshing blog Dr. Gustafson.
After reading, this blog I gained useful information and comforting reassurance about seeking graduate education. Some highlights that I took away from the post was: the importance of surrounding yourself around educators and influencers that will speak wisdom, information, and confidence in you, push yourself to speak with professors and share your story, and the importance of gaining experiences that will allow me to find an environment that I enjoy and passionate about. Furthermore, I was encouraged and ready to take action in preparation for graduate school after reading this post because I had the opportunity to meet with you (my professor) and share my story. In which, I truly appreciate you taking the time to hear my story, encourage me, and pray for me. Thank you Dr. Gustafson.
Thank you for sharing your academic journey and the information on the diverse graduate program CBU offers. In my experience as an undergraduate student at CBU the faculty have assisted in aiding me to understand my goals, passion, and acquire an education that will equip me to be effective in the workforce as a Christian. Also, I concur that each one of our mazeway is unique in order to be a service to the Lord for his glory. The encouragement and words of wisdom mean a great multitude to me because I don’t believe I understood my purpose to this magnitude until I transferred to CBU.
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