Know your goals, know your path, give back, be a leader, these simple tenets offer the greatest rewards. For Marinda Peters, counseling was her goal, her path and ultimately her reward.
“My passion is for the betterment of our society, and I truly believe that our young people are our future, so if we can support our young people to be the best citizens that they can be or the most successful that they can be within their definition of success, I want to be a part of that,” says Peters, an OSU graduate and adjunct instructor at OSU-Cascades.
In 2014, Peters won the Oregon School Counselor of the year award. This impressive recognition is evaluated on the ability to create systemic change within the profession of school counseling. Through her own significant leadership, collaboration and advocacy skills, Peters was able to achieve increased student success and create fundamental change within her school.
On winning the award, Peters says, “I think it was really affirming the work that I do is valuable both how the students perceive it, but also how professionals in this area perceive it.”
Since receiving the Oregon School Counselor of the Year award, Peters went on to earn her Ph.D. in Counseling through OSU. She currently works as a counselor in Neil Armstrong Middle School in Forest Grove, Oregon, where she supports 450 seventh grade students. She assists them with social issues, career readiness, and academic advising. In addition to student counseling, she is also a Crisis Response Flight Team counselor.
For Peters, however, counseling is so much more than a job, “To be able to go to work every day and know that I’m making a difference and to feel that difference and to see that growth, really binds well with the passion that I have.” Her work is her calling, “I’m able to get paid for what I love to do, which is pretty amazing.”
As the primary breadwinner of her family, Peters believed that by pursuing a Ph.D. in Counseling she could not only make a significant positive impact with her students, but also her family. Still, she was not entirely certain how should could find the time, “The reality that I needed to be able to continue to work and do my job was really, really important.” When she learned about OSU’s hybrid program for the Ph.D. in Counseling, Peters knew she had found the answer to balancing school and work life, “This hybrid format allowed me to have access in a way that no other program was even close to allowing me.”
Regardless, embarking on such a daunting endeavor was intimidating. “I appreciated that [the program] was hybrid and not just online.” Peters was able to take advantage of all aspects of OSU’s unique platform, “I think there was a balance between the format working well, the instructors doing a good job using that format, and my cohort rocking it! They were so much fun.”
Oregon State University’s Ph.D. in Counseling degree prepares candidates to become advanced practitioners, clinical supervisors, and counselor educators in clinical and academic settings. The aim of this program is to develop skills in research that help to recognize and address the societal changes of diverse communities and their cultures. Ultimately, the candidates are readied to become leaders in their fields and advocates for change. And with this foundation, Peters recognized the multi-layered benefits of returning to school and completing her doctorate.
Looking back on her career before getting her Ph.D., she asks, “How did I ever do my job before? I’m so much more professional, and I have such a better theoretical base than I would’ve otherwise.”
Now, by extending her experience as an adjunct professor at OSU-Cascades, Peters is able to impart her own skills and knowledge with incoming students; “I think the quality of education that I got was pretty solid, so I really like giving back to a system that I believe in.”
She views her teaching opportunities as a way to motivate and encourage. “I think that people are inspired because they appreciate how others can change and better themselves and I think that if we truly believe that people have the capacity to find their inner resilience, then we can do our job in a meaningful way.”
Peters truly believes that being a middle school counselor is how she can change lives and make a difference in the world, particularly as she reflects back on her primary education experience and her own school counselor. “The culture of acceptance and love that she provided for the school was really inspiring.” She is now the one creating a culture of acceptance and love for her students.