This is Where I Belong

Glimmerglass Lagoon on my way to work

Three weeks…that’s all that’s left for the semester!  It’s almost unbelievable that I’ve pretty much completed my first semester of grad school.  Just a few months ago I was going to my first graduate class.  At the time I was worried, scared, and very nervous.  I had struggled through the last year of my undergraduate career and I wasn’t sure how I’d do as a graduate student.  Well, I’m doing really well and I’m surprised, yet proud of myself.  Before this semester started, I was exhausted, overworked, pretty much didn’t want to continue with school.  Now that I look back, I can truly say that I’m happy with the accomplishments I made over the last five years.  Oswego gave me so many opportunities to try new things, challenge myself, be challenged by others, and most importantly choose the life that I want to live.

Within the last few months I have figured out my path for life, or at least for the next four to five years.  I absolutely love my graduate courses.  I’m being challenged in ways that I never thought possible.  Emotionally, mentally, and academically – I’m learning things about myself that I never knew before; I’m learning in ways that I never knew existed.  Between classes, working two jobs, and making new friends, I realized what matters most to me and what I want to do with my time.  This realization has brought me a great deal of excitement and joy.  I wake up everyday ready for a new adventure and look forward to the unpredictable events to come.

My graduate courses are nothing like undergrad classes.  Not only do I only have classes once a week, but I enjoy them so much that I don’t even realize how quickly the 2 1/2 hours they each occupy go.  One of my classes, CPS 510 – Counseling Theory & Process, involves practice counseling sessions with my classmates.  We get between 20 and 40 minutes each class to practice the theories and approaches that we learn in class.  At first, my group would remain guarded and sort of act out our sessions.  After a while, we realized that we weren’t growing and learning how to incorporate new techniques.  So, we decided to jump in and be more open with each other.  Doing this really helped me, and I’m sure them, understand how I felt about things in my life and how to really be an active listener for others and to understand their lives.  Before this course, I thought I was a great listener; I thought I could easily understand and empathize others, but I was completely wrong.  This course has taught me how to focus on my “client” and really get what they’re saying.  I’ve also learned how to key in on their true emotions and empathize correctly.  All of this has helped me realize my limitations and where I need to grow as a person and as a future counselor.

Speaking of future counseling – I will begin to see clients next semester!  Knowing that I’ll be in sessions with people who are looking to make changes in their lives is intimidating.  There are times when I am so excited and feel that I’m completely ready and then others when I’m terrified and feel so unprepared.  I’ve been told this is normal, so I’m going to just go with it.  It’s awesome to know that I will have a professional counseling relationship with people who want to change their lives.  I’ve always been the person that my friends would come to for advice and to talk, but now I’m going to be that person and help clients figure things out for themselves.  It’s been a struggle to restrain from asking questions or to problem-solve, but as I grow I’ll learn ways to travel on my clients’ journeys with them.  I will be a “helper” rather than a “doer” and that makes me feel great.

Personally, I’m still a doer.  I’m working two jobs, going to graduate school full time, establishing a new organization on campus, and so many other things.  I’m trying to be as involved as possible with Habitat for Humanity.  I was a very active member in high school, but lost my connection when I started college.  Now, I’m a member of the board of directors for the Oswego County Habitat for Humanity chapter.  I’ve missed the last few meetings, but like I said – I’ve realized how I want to spend my time and I have decided to put more effort and time into this organization.  I can remember the feeling after completing a build and seeing the family receive their keys to their new home.  Knowing that I was a part of an awesome project to provide a deserving family a safe and healthy home would always fill me with such joy.  I want to feel that again, and I want to help those families again.  Keep an eye out for H4H updates over the next few months.

As I said, I am starting a new student organization on campus.  The Graduate Student Union will be the representative body for all SUNY Oswego graduate students.  We have great plans for Oswego and hope to reach some of our goals within the next year.  Gathering graduate students to meet has been quite a challenge, but the e-board is definitely up for it.  Keep an eye out for updates on GSU, too!

I’m ready for this extreme adventure that grad school is going to give me.  I can’t imagine myself anywhere else or doing anything else.  Oswego is my home and I’m so very glad to have stuck around to experience everything going on around here.

About the Author

Steven DiMarzo is starting his graduate studies in mental health counseling at SUNY Oswego. He completed his bachelor's in human development in May, and served as president of Student Association during his senior year.
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