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Laura Thompson

Laura ThompsonPh.D. Counseling and Counselor Education

Hometown: Reno, Nevada

What about Syracuse University, the School of Education, and the Department of Counseling and Human Services contributed to you deciding to pursue your degree here?
There were several factors that influenced my choice in this program. I was drawn to the size of the department and the philosophy of the program. When I read the website, it spoke to me! It was appealing to know that past graduates from the program have pursued both academic and clinical careers. Further, I liked the notion that faculty encourage students to pursue research that appeals to our individual interests. Finally, Syracuse University is a great institution that is internationally recognized.

What opportunities have you had as a student that have enhanced your professional identity development and level of preparation for being a professional?
There have been so many opportunities! While working as a graduate assistant for the department, I had the opportunity to serve as a Teaching Assistant for a range of courses. I have also served as a primary instructor for a course. I have assisted professors with their research, and I have received wonderful mentoring while conducting my Research Apprenticeship. The process was invaluable to preparing me for the dissertation process. The FPP program provided the opportunity to connect with other graduate students at Syracuse, and it served as resource in preparing me for my future. Being a Teaching Mentor for the Teaching Assistant Orientation Program was another rewarding experience that assisted me in strengthening my identity as an educator. Finally, I have worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Counseling Center at Syracuse University, and it has been incredibly beneficial in helping me to hone my clinical skills.

How do your experiences in the Department of Counseling and Human Services promote your growth and development as a leader?
Again, there are so many opportunities available to students. Professors support us in pursuing our passions and inform us of available opportunities. Students can be as involved as they choose outside of their assistantship and academic responsibilities. In my experience, new opportunities have emerged each year. Through teaching, serving as a Teaching Mentor, doing presentations at conferences, participating in the FPP program, I have grown my leadership skills.

What are you doing now in your doctoral work of which you are most proud?
I am currently collecting data for my dissertation study. I'm thrilled to be at this point in the process, and am really passionate about the research I am doing. I'm proud that I've been successful at navigating all of the steps that got me to this point.

What are your professional plans when you complete your doctorate in Counseling and Counselor Education? How has your degree helped prepare you to excel in your intended career trajectory?
My immediate goal is to find a position in a College Counseling Center. I love working as a counselor with the College student population! Eventually, I hope to find a position that will allow me the opportunity to work clinically and to teach, because I truly enjoy both. The degree/program has prepared me to excel on this career path because it offers both a solid and rigorous academic training and the opportunity to work clinically throughout my time at S.U.

What has been a transformative moment for you in your program?
There have been several moments that stand out. Passing my comprehensive exams certainly felt great! Although I have always done well in school and have succeeded academically, I never considered myself to be a scholar. Several years ago, I turned in a paper for the most challenging course I took in my graduate career at S.U. It was a paper I spent a great deal of time developing and writing. When it was returned, the professor commented that she hoped that I would consider assuming the identity of a scholar. This felt like a huge compliment, and was in many ways a transformative moment in shifting the way I view myself.

What are some current leadership, scholarship, or professional activities in which you are involved? How do you see them shaping your development?
Currently, my main focus is completing my dissertation. In addition to this, I spend 20 hours per week working in the Counseling Center at S.U. Both of these things take time and focus and are equally important to my future. The work at the Counseling Center is invaluable for my professional development.

What are things you do to relax and have fun as a doctoral student?
I love the outdoors! Staying active has allowed me to stay grounded throughout this process, and many of my ideas for papers, research, or presentations have come to me while running, swimming, or taking a walk. There is a lot of natural beauty in this area. During the winter, I enjoy skiing from time to time. Several of the local spots offer great student discounts! Also, every few months, I take the train to NYC to visit friends.

What are the top three things you enjoy about the Syracuse community?
1) I love Syracuse University!
2) The area has a lot of natural beauty and there are wonderful places for outdoor activities nearby.
3) It's an easy and affordable place to live.