This is my story! This is how I came in a crossroads in life and I am merging my educations, experience, and passion for my future in Art Therapy / Counseling.

(This personal statement is what I submitted as part of my application package for Graduate School. )

 

 

Jemez mountains, trees, light, mental health, empathy, love

 

I am a good listener. I try to listen to what is being said, and importantly, to what is not being said.  Working with others in emotional need or crisis calls on strengths that I have developed as I have experienced the joys and disappointments of life.  I made a decision to be a counselor and Art Therapist based on my education and my experience in medicine.   My own journey with art gives me a perspective that can be strengthening and fulfilling.

My skills range from attention to detail in the workplace to having an open ear   Mentors and friends have highlighted my diligence to problem solving.   Some have described me as “nerd-like,” I am, indeed, slightly neurotic in my thinking. The tendency is to systemize tasks to accomplish goals. I pride myself in this habit so that I seldom overlook details in a problem or project.

Planning is an important part of any process, especially to make sure goals are met.  I am proponent of planning and organized goals.  Many team mates have turned to me for notes and keeping track of our forward planning.

Communication with others is key to the success of most work.  I am an introvert and I am the Myers Briggs Type Indicator INFJ (Introvert, Intuition, Feeling, Judging). This means I think before I speak.  This means I listen TO and observe before I speak.    I am a feeler and an “Empath.”  I tend to see myself in “someone else’s shoes.”.  I really do strive to “feel” what others may feel so that I can better understand what they are experiencing. I avoid giving advice.

Many life experiences have led me to pursue an MA in Counseling/Art Therapy.  Growing up, I never had it easy academically.  I didn’t necessarily struggle, but I had to teach myself coping strategies.  Many teachers, counselors, and mentors have helped along the way.  I do have a soft spot for helping other people.  For counseling, I want to help students determine their learning style.  I want to help veterans like myself cope with stress.

As a young child, I always saw my mom and an aunt taking photos at birthdays and special occasions.  The camera came into my life and it shaped the way I see the world.  I aspired to be a photojournalist and study both Photography and Journalism in my Undergrad years.  Images can show a true story of time.  They are a form of memory keeping, documentary, and can be healing at times.  My eyes continue to be amazed at the world around me, but I always look for meaning and a story in everything.

After college, it became increasingly difficult to be independent and have a stable income.   I worked as a wedding photographer, and I freelanced for an independent Cincinnati magazine.  The demand for people with my professional interests and training reduced significantly in the past ten years. The change in employment opportunities in journalism and photojournalism has forced many with my interests and skills to seek other employment while retraining. I had to work retail positions in order to make ends meet.

My enlistment in the United States Air Force was decision made out of necessity.  I am proud to have been an “American Airman” and part of the 1% to be a veteran.  During the service, I experienced intense times.  Numerous stressful situations paired with my personality forced me to turn to art as a daily coping mechanism.  While photography will always be my first love, I have used many outlets in art such as a “Smashbook,” Scrapbook, art journal, handmade cards, and now mixed media canvas pieces.  

The creative process allowed me to disengage from triggers and stressors.  Working through art allowed my creative mind to be free without restriction.  I believe art can allow the body and mind to better function throughout daily life.  Now, I am excited to learn to help people the therapeutic techniques of art.

On a personal note, my heart and mind have experienced sadness, anger, joy, excitement, and nervousness.  These experiences have led me to be an advocate to fight the stigma of mental health illness and issues.  More times than not, many folks in our daily life have many of these experiences.  

We need to keep going to make sure it is okay if someone is not okay.  When that happens, we need to be there for a person and allow them to have whatever thoughts and feelings that they have..  Our brains are dynamic.  We can and we should have a growth mindset!

In a quote by Marianne Williamson, she says, “The Goddess doesn’t enter us from outside; she emerges from deep within.  She is not held back by what happened in the past.  She is conceived in consciousness, born in love, and nurtured by higher thinking.  She is integrity and value, created and sustained by the hard work of personal growth and the discipline of a life lived actively in hope.”

I have served and volunteered in many capacities.  While in college, I volunteered on my campus newspaper.  It allowed me be behind the scenes but still support the community.  I also worked as a campus guide for younger students usually 4th-8th grades who needed to learn college.  It is amazing to see their eyes open at the planetarium.  Or I helped them point at different animals in various aquariums in the science building.

While in the Air Force, I volunteered (and was elected) as the Public Affairs Officer for the “Rising 6” (the group for all enlisted E1-E6 on base). The responsibility made real my leadership and coordination skills!  I was privileged to plan and support events.  I was lucky to be in this leadership role as a junior Airman.  However, I accepted the opportunity.

I was also in charge of the email database for this organization.  At meetings, I made sure to ask the questions I needed, delegated to whoever is willing to help, We helped many airmen improve skills and strengthen morale.

Now, I am looking forward to a future at Southwestern College.  I am looking forward to seeing how my skills, my passion for art, and my empathy for others can be further enhanced put to work.  

Thank you for considering me into your program.