Sinead is currently seeking her MS in counseling, with a dual-track concentration in the School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs. Originally from Knoxville, TN, she received her BS in child and family studies and psychology at UT Knoxville, and joined EPC in 2015. We asked her to reflect on some past and current experiences. Read her responses below.
Volunteering at Pond Gap Community School: I created and lead a counseling group for children with incarcerated parents.
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Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan
I am in my third year leading the youth programming at Good Samaritan. I coordinate educational, service, and recreational programs for the youth, and have implemented a social justice oriented curriculum that includes socially-responsible mission trips each summer.
When I’m not at school I enjoy volunteering in the community (Children’s Hospital is my favorite!), spending time with friends exploring all the great things to do in Knoxville, and playing with my Italian Greyhound, Nelly.
I hope to work with children who have experienced trauma and their families. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to participate in the dual-track program here at UT, as it has offered me many different learning opportunities for working with children in elementary school, middle school, and community settings. One of the reasons I selected UT was the Grief Outreach Initiative and my experience with mentoring a grieving child was very influential.
What sold you on this program/department/university?
I applied to schools all over the country, but when it came down to my final decision, I was surprised to find that UT had more of the components I was looking for than any other school. The dual-track option was very important to me, as I know I want to work with children, but I am interested in having the holistic view of both school and community settings. I was surprised to find that many of the schools I was interested in did not offer this, and I kept realizing how unique UT was in offering this option. Additionally, the Grief Outreach Initiative and the graduate certificate in Grief, Loss, and Trauma was appealing. I plan to work with children experiencing those very issues, and having this certificate so easily available in the program was another draw. Finally, the opportunities to work with the University-Assisted Community Schools in the area was something that really made UT stand out. Having the opportunity to volunteer in local high-need schools and to really put my skills into practice in the real world has been immensely beneficial for me as a counselor in training.
What would you tell an incoming student who joins the program/department?
I would tell an incoming student to be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities available to you through the program, department, and UT as a whole. There are so many events and activities that allow you to learn about a wide range of topics, connect with other students and faculty, and to engage with the community as a whole. Taking advantage of the many opportunities will allow you to stretch and challenge yourself, meet people who are different from you and to really make the most of your experience here. There is a lot you can learn at UT outside the classroom that will really inform the kind of counselor you will become.