Learn from our students' experience

Lauren - MA in Student Affairs

Lauren Villella 

Program: Dual-MA Student Affairs

Current internship/assistantship: Chatham University’s Office of Career Development

Career goals: To become a career consultant or academic advisor

Previous practicum and internships: Intern – spring 2019 semester, Carlow University, Disabilities Services Office and Graduate Assistant, Carlow University, Celtic Leadership Institute (summer bridge program), August 2018 and August 2019 

What were or have been the highlights of your time in the MA or dual program?

The highlights of my time in the MA program have been serving as an intern in Chatham’s Office of Career Development and Carlow’s Disabilities Services Office. These professional experiences have allowed me to work directly with students, to gain practical experience, and to learn about different functional areas within student affairs. Additionally, the informational interviews I have completed in some of my classes have been significant highlights. Through these interviews, I have been able to connect with student affairs professionals at the University of Pittsburgh, Point Park University, and Duquesne University. These interviews have allowed me to expand my network and to learn about different experiences that lead people to the field of student affairs.

How has/did Carlow help you prepare for your internship/job search?

Carlow helped me to prepare for my internship search by emphasizing that the search should begin months prior to the semester you would like to do the internship. Dr. Schwartz was instrumental in providing me with contacts at local universities to begin my search of potential internship sites. The MA program also helped me to prepare by ensuring that the topic of internship was always part of class discussions. Preparing for internship was never a faraway topic that I didn’t hear a lot about – it was frequently mentioned in classes and in advising meetings, and this helped me to give it continuous thought and consideration.

How have you applied your learning in your internship or job?

I have been able to apply many skills I have learned in my classes to my internships and GA position. Paramount among these skills have been components of the reflective listening skills, including paraphrasing and using minimal encouragers.

What advice or perspective would you offer to people considering the MA in Student Affairs or dual degree (not advice about which program, but advice about deciding to come to Carlow)?

I would tell interested individuals that the MA and dual degree programs at Carlow will help them to make connections that will allow them to thrive in their chosen field(s). They will also get small class sizes that allow them to know each of their classmates and their professors. Through their required internships and class projects, the MA and dual degree programs will put individuals in the best possible position to enter the workforce as prepared and knowledgeable professionals.

What advice would you offer new students?

I would encourage new students to embrace as many professional opportunities as they can and to not be afraid of sharing their voice in the classroom. You never know when a professional experience will help you to discover new interests or passions. Likewise, your participation in the classroom can help you to learn more about yourself and your classmates, and aid you in making real-life connections to the material.

Juliana - MA in Student Affairs

Juliana Vokes 

Program: Dual-MA/MS Student Affairs and Professional Counseling

Current internship/assistantship: I completed my internship at Penn State Greater Allegheny from Fall 2018 to Spring 2019. I worked under the Mental Health Counselor and Student Affairs department where I was involved in outreach, mental health programming, and coordinating activities on campus. *UPDATE Juliana is now a counselor at The Oasis Center in Nashville!

Grad Assistant Position: My position as a graduate assistant included standing as a Life Skills Coordinator in the Athletics department at Carlow. Within this position, I developed and launched a program for student athletes to improve personal, academic and athletic skills through various workshops and seminars. I also worked as a graduate assistant within the Student Affairs masters program at Carlow and completed duties per request of department chair. This involved researching information regarding enrollment and marketing to assist with recruiting. I was able to connect with incoming students to answer questions regarding the graduate program and act as a liaison between those students and faculty.

Previous practicum and internships: I completed my practicum (Summer 2018) at the Quest Therapeutic Camp in Squirrel Hill. While there, I provided support to campers with emotional and social challenges through structured activities and groups.

What were or have been the highlights of your time in the MA or dual program?

I think a highlight of my program can be pointed at the connections that I have made. I was in the dual degree program with two other females who have been in just about every class with me since Day 1. We’ve complained, laughed, stressed, encouraged and supported each other along this journey the last two years and it has been such an amazing addition to my life. I have learned more from the people around me than I could have ever learned from any textbook- although these do provide us with some pretty important information so please read your books (LOL).

How did the program help you clarify your career goals?

The program has allowed me to clarify my career goals in a way that let me put myself first. I was able to take the information and knowledge gained throughout each class and in every subject and reflect on my personal interests and relate those to where I see myself. Professors teach you material in class but are always willing to serve as mentors outside of class and offer guidance, resources and advice that gives you the opportunity to explore your options and make decisions toward that next big step.

Please share your experience of moving to Pittsburgh to study at Carlow and/or your thoughts on what makes Pittsburgh a terrific location for graduate study:

My move to Pittsburgh began as a fun adventure with my best friend. I didn’t plan on going back to school right away and wanted to find work and adventure after just graduating from Penn State with my bachelor’s degree. I stumbled across Carlow’s dual degree program and didn’t hesitate to apply and I’m glad that I did just that. My move to Pittsburgh led me to new and challenging work experiences, plenty of adventure, and TWO master’s degrees at Carlow. Pittsburgh offers to much opportunity in so many different areas so moving from a small town into Pittsburgh was such an amazing transition where I was able to immerse myself in the culture and grow professionally.

What advice would you offer new students?

You’re going to be stressed and that is OKAY. Graduate school is a lot of work and you know that signing up for it. Carlow has so many amazing faculty, staff, and resources that will support you in your endeavors and offer you the guidance that you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, say no, or take care of yourself. This time is for you and this is such an amazing achievement so embrace the connections that you make on campus and take every learning opportunity that comes your way. The stress is definitely worth it.

Katryna Marvel - MA in Student Affairs

Katryna Marvel 

Program: MA in Student Affairs

Current internship/assistantship: Career Advisor (intern), Chatham University Office of Career Development & Graduate Assistant, Carlow University College of Professional Studies

Career goals: Academic Advisor or Career Counselor (short-term), Dean of Students or Academic Affairs (long-term) and President (longer-term)

What have been the highlights of your time in the MA program?

The highlight of my time in the MA program has honestly been working with Dr. Schwartz. She has put so much time and effort into making this program what it should be. If it weren't for her persistence, we would not have the increase in the number of Graduate Assistantships available to us.

How did the program help you clarify your career goals?

The program helped me clarify that seeing students succeed is something that never grows old for me. It is something that I look forward to continuing to do for each student who walks through my door.

What advice or perspective would you offer to people considering the MA in Student Affairs at Carlow?

Carlow is one of the places that will immediately make you feel at home. Even though it is a graduate program, the professors at Carlow and even the staff are always there to help and lend a listening ear.

What advice would you offer new students?

Never be afraid to ask for help, even in graduate school!

Lortta Ellis - MA in Student Affairs

Loretta Ellis

Program: MA in Student Affairs

Current Internship/Graduate Assistant Positions: Academic Coach and Undergraduate Research Coordinator, Student Support Services, Penn State Greater Allegheny; Graduate Assistant Carlow University Honors Program

Career goals: To work in higher education in a Bridge or TRIO Program that works to support student success for first generation students, low-income students and/or students with learning or physical disabilities.

What have been the highlights of your time in the MA?

One of the biggest highlights to date is getting an internship in my field of interest where I incorporate work experience, personal passion, and course work content into a real world setting with at risk students at a local university. Another highlight was getting a graduate assistant position that allows me to expand my knowledge and understanding of how student affairs works on a university level. Realizing that the possibilities are endless made me know that I had made the right career move because I never know what opportunities might present themselves both locally and out of state.

How did the program help you clarify your career goals?

The program helped me to broaden my understanding of what student affairs encompasses and how I can translate my prior work experience as a high school college and career advisor and my passion for working with at risk students into a new professional career.

What advice or perspective would you offer to people considering the MA in Student Affairs?

For me, Carlow was the right decision. The coursework is designed to build the entire person. I am developing academically, personally and professionally with the support of faculty and staff in and outside of the classroom, including The Café workers, bookstore staff, help desk students and the Student Hub staff. The Center for Academic Excellence has been pivotal in my being successful as well. They all are just as important to my experience at Carlow as my advisor and professors. Everyone treats me so nice that I feel loved and accepted by all despite my age and my race.  I love the community feel of the campus and the experiences that are afforded me for professional development. 

Karina Conrad - MA in Student Affairs

Karina Conrad

Program: Dual MA Student Affairs/ MS Professional Counseling
Graduated: 2018

Current position: Coordinator of a program for theological education, formation, and community, for the Religious Formation Conference at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, IL.

Internships: Slippery Rock University Counseling Center. Also, practicum at Children's Community Pediatrics Behavioral Health in Wexford and Oakland

What were the highlights of the dual degree program?

I believe the highlight of my time with the dual program has been the integration of the counseling profession with the student affairs profession.  Learning the counseling skills and implementing these skills to the student affairs profession is vital. Another highlight was meeting other student affairs professionals at Carlow and other institutions, near and far, by skype during class, or site visits.  This opportunity allowed me to discover the variety of careers within Student Affairs. 

How did Carlow help you prepare for your internship/job search?

My advisor has been most helpful in helping me network and connect with different higher education institutions as I searched for jobs.

How have you applied your learning in your internship or job?

I believe I have applied both the counseling and student affairs learnings to my current job.  Understanding the variety of departments and programs associated with student affairs and applying this knowledge in a relational way has been beneficial. 

What advice would you offer new students?

I believe a career in counseling and/or student affairs allows one to make a difference in the lives of students.  My advice to new students is to get to know all areas associated with student affairs and be patient because you will eventually find your niche and it is worth it!