The Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu stated, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. My decision to enroll in the Pastoral Counseling Program was that single step on the long journey to becoming a professional counselor.
I started my professional career as an accountant armed with an Accounting Degree from the University of Maryland – College Park. For 15 years, my life was filled with numbers, spreadsheets and financial statements. It was honorable work and I was good at it, yet as the fiscal years began to add up, I realized that there was a source of fulfillment that was missing. My faith had always been an integral part of my life and in 2004 that increased significantly as I finished my denomination’s five year process to become an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In that role it is my humbling pleasure and privilege, to serve the members of the church and the community. A good portion of that service is encouraging others, instilling hope, providing spiritual direction and being present with persons as they experience life. In the pursuit of this I realized that even with a generous heart and the best intentions, increased knowledge was needed to become more effective in my service. That is when I made the decision to go back to school for a degree in counseling.
Loyola became a logical choice for multiple reasons. I didn’t want just any counseling degree, I wanted one that would embrace and not dismiss the solid foundation of faith that was already in my life. The Pastoral Counseling program at Loyola connected with those same goals. The diversity that Loyola offers in both cultural backgrounds and religious faiths was also very attractive. The differences in perspective and points of view have been both enlightening and enriching. Lastly, I had the experience of observing a class during one the department’s “Open Houses.” Seeing the interaction between the students and the professor was exhilarating. In fact, at one point the class discussion was so engaging that I had to stop myself from jumping in. I know now that even in my “pre-enrolled” state, my verbal contribution would have been welcomed and valued.
I started my MS Pastoral Counseling Degree journey in the fall of 2010 and I start my clinical internship next semester. So I have stopped counting the steps and am now truly enjoying the journey.