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: