By Dan Wine
Dr. Rosalyn Johnson
Class of 2009: Bachelor’s degree in human services, minor in psychology
Employer: Savannah College of Art and Design
Occupation: Assistant Director of Clinical Training
Home: Savannah, Georgia
Dr. Rosalyn Johnson says the small class sizes and caring professors at Beacon College were keys to her success and helped launch her into graduate school, where she later became the first Beacon graduate to earn a doctorate. Now she has built a career in mental-health counseling.
After graduating from Beacon, Johnson earned her master’s degree in mental-health counseling from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and her doctorate from Argosy University in Sarasota, Fla.
Q: How did Beacon College help prepare you for your career?
A: [Faculty and instructors] helped me to advocate if I needed any accommodations in regards to my learning disability and to just be assertive and not ashamed if I needed extra time on testing or if I needed something explained a little bit differently from a professor. I didn’t really need to utilize the accommodations, but I did have them just in case I needed them. … But I did utilize the Office of Disability Services in both my master’s and doctorate program.
Q: What attracted you to work in mental health counseling?
A: I always just felt like that was my passion, and that my gift and talent was to be able to really work effectively with different populations and be able to assist them with different stressors and … different challenges that they were having, whether it be trauma or substance abuse or family conflicts. Since I was 13, I knew that I wanted to be a counselor.
Q: Tell me about your job at SCAD’s counseling center.
A: Part of my responsibilities are overseeing the clinical interns that are … working on getting their master’s in counseling. Also I provide supervision to the unlicensed and licensed clinicians. And then also seeing clients, including undergrad and graduate students. … I’m starting to build up a caseload of clients as well as working with the director so that the administrative side of things is going well in terms of the day-to-day operations of the counseling center, managing any crises.
Q: How do you think schools and colleges do in providing mental-health support?
A: Some schools provide and emphasize it more than others. I think it depends on the size of the college and the university. It depends on the size of the university counseling center, if they have enough staff to support the need of students. Some students from specific ethnic backgrounds, they don’t believe in counseling, or their families don’t believe in mental-health counseling, and they believe that they should work out the things at home … and that they shouldn’t talk about them with other people. … We do a lot of group therapy sessions at SCAD. We do a lot of information sessions and presentations on mental health and let the students know the different types of services that we offer.
Q: Do you have any advice for Beacon College students?
A: Just encouraging the current students to really push themselves and not be afraid to get out there and really go after your dreams and not let anything that anybody says that they can’t do … deter them from reaching their goals. So it’s just all about motivation, self-determination and perseverance. And if you set your mind to it, you can do it. So those would be my last words of wisdom.
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(Note: Some answers were edited for length.)