Like many others who continue their education beyond an undergraduate degree,Joel Harris has a successful career. His position as a home-based service provider and coordinator for programs for the Youth Services Bureau entails working with families teaching parenting and life skills. But Joel wanted more from his education and his career.
While waiting to hear about his acceptance status after applying to another counseling program, Joel was introduced to Dr. Jerry Davis, director of HuntingtonUniversity’s graduate program in counseling. Davis shared his vision for the program, and Joel was impressed by what he heard. Davis expressed a desire to build a strong foundational counseling program that integrated a Christian faith and perspective into the curriculum and teaching while preparing students for state licensure.
“That was the kind of program that I wanted to be a part of,” Joel said.
Relationships also had a major impact on Joel’s decision to enroll in theHuntington University Graduate School. His goal was to earn a Master of Arts degree in counseling, but he wanted to do so while working with people and building relationships.
“You don’t have that kind of luxury in schools where you could possibly go the duration of a program and never interact with individuals in your graduating class,”Joel said.
With small class sizes and a casual atmosphere, Joel appreciates knowing his classmates and having professors call him by name. It was the personal relationships that drew Joel to Huntington University’s graduate program in counseling, but what he has learned has changed his career.
Working with the Youth Services Bureau can be a difficult job.
“The greatest challenge is to help individuals to see past their circumstances and make positive changes to improve their lives,” Joel said.
There is an emotional toll that Joel experiences as a service provider. Joel invests in his clients’ lives, requiring him to place himself in others’ shoes to nudge them in the right direction while at the same time maintaining a detachment from his clients’ personal struggles.
His time at Huntington University has given him new tools with which to combat this emotional stress and innovative ideas for the future of his career.
“For one of my classes, I had to interview an individual who is a model for the career I hope to resemble,” Joel said. “I interviewed one of my undergraduate professors, Dr. Martin Seitz. I liked the academic atmosphere that a college or universityprovides, but I also hope to enter the counseling profession as an act of service. During the interview, Dr. Seitz shared how his classes help keep him updated on theory and skills for counseling, while his counseling provides practical object lessons that he uses in class.”
Joel hopes to someday follow in Seitz’s footsteps, and the first step in that journey has been the classes he is taking. The material covered in class is being used in his field work with families, and many of his experiences working with families have become object lessons in his classes.
But more than practical applications of theories, Joel said that his time in HU’s graduate program in counseling has enhanced his faith.
“One of the great things about Huntington’s program is the integration of faith with practice,” Joel said. “In the human growth and development class, we took time to discuss spiritual formation and development. We examined how spiritual development mimicked development in other aspects of life. It truly clarified for me many of the experiences I’ve had in life.”