The online college counseling program supports educators around the world
Education is important to North Carolina State graduate Ciandra Gaston, whether she teaches or learns.
Gaston was teaching in Haiti when she decided she was ready to expand her skills as an educator at the college level.
“I’m a former teacher and found that students gravitated towards me before and after class because I was a listening ear and a calm presence,” she said. “I decided that the best space for me to provide this support to students was in a college environment as they transition into adulthood.”
NC State online Master of Education in College Counseling and Student Development allowed Gaston to juggle her teaching responsibilities and pursue her goal of teaching internationally. So she made the decision to enroll in the program and has been enjoying it for four years.
“I learned so much about myself and my professional goals through my experiences in the program,” she said. “The pandemic could have prevented me from pushing towards the goal of completing this program due to the lack of internship opportunities. I was resilient and am so grateful for everything I learned in my current internship.
During the first semesters of the program, Gaston continued to work full-time as a teacher in Haiti while attending evening classes. When she took on her role as host for the Global Training Initiative office and completed the online form Career Identity Advocate Coaching Trainingshe was inspired to seize new opportunities.
“It was wonderful to add new skills to my resume and network with people from different departments at the university,” she says. “These experiences have helped me connect to the university beyond my role as a student.”
After taking on a new role as Student Success Advisor for 2U in Alexandria, Virginia, Gaston was still able to manage her student responsibilities thanks to the flexibility of online classes. She managed her tasks by leaving reminders on her desk, organizing her calendar and maintaining a “no work on Saturday” rule to give herself time to rest and recharge.
“I’m a pretty organized person and found online classes gave me flexibility and control over my time,” she said. “I had the support of my partner, family and friends when things got tough.”
Gaston believes that the support of the program’s teachers made the experience even more impactful.
“Associate Teaching Professor and Counselor Education Program Coordinator Angie Smith encouraged me, thought of me outside of class and was/is invested in my development,” said Gaston. “She was one of the biggest highlights of my experience on the program.”
As she looks forward to graduating, Gaston feels ready to work with students from diverse backgrounds and is excited to use her skills from the program to impact student futures and success. .
Hoping to encourage others to enroll in an online program at NC State, Gaston says, “There’s no perfect time to pursue your education. Find the program or school that’s right for you and the dream you don’t want to give up. I encourage others to take online courses to develop transferable technology skills, build community, and have increased flexibility in their learning.
Are you interested in pursuing an online Master of Education in Academic Counseling and Student Development? Visit the program page and online.ncsu.edu for a complete list of degree and certificate programs.
This post was originally published in DELTA News.