Meet Graduate Student Ambassador Sarah Johns
"I remember touring a year ago and immediately understanding that Villanova was a special place. The Counseling program has provided me with so many opportunities to learn both in the classroom and at my practicum site, and I truly feel like I come home every day."
Describe your interest in your academic program and what you hope to gain from it.
My school counselor in high school was instrumental in helping me get to college as a first-generation student, and she really inspired me to consider school counseling as a career once I finished undergrad. I’m looking forward to hopefully working at the high school level in a college counseling/career readiness role, but I’ve been enjoying my time working with elementary students during my practicum experience, and so I’m also open to possibly working at that level too!
What is your favorite course you’ve taken so far? If you are in your first year, what course are you most looking forward to in your program? Why?
My favorite class so far has definitely been my Lab in Counseling Skills course I took during my first semester with Dr. Baker! It felt like such a safe space to challenge myself and learn the basic skills I needed in order to begin my counseling journey, and getting to learn and receive feedback from other students was invaluable. As for the future, it’s hard to pick just one class I’m excited about because I have many, but I’m looking forward to taking my internship courses next fall and spring. Getting to work with students at my internship site for a full year is going to be a chance to get to know them while practicing what I’ve been learning in the classroom.
What are a few things you would like to share with prospective students regarding the Villanova student experience?
I’d say there are so many things to get involved in, whether that be joining the Graduate Student Council, going to the many events for grad students held throughout the year, or by becoming a student ambassador. It’s really easy to get invested in the community here, so I’d suggest trying to say yes to things that spark joy and will allow you to feel connected to the community on campus. Everyone is so friendly and inviting, so all it takes is the initial push to get yourself out there, and you’ll find you’ve made so many incredible friends here. The academic portion of life on campus is also fascinating. The research culture here has been so well developed too, so there are many opportunities to get to know what others are working on, and I always suggest going to events like the Three Minute Thesis competition to truly appreciate the amazing work being done by fellow grad students!
How do you maintain a good school/life balance?
For me, it’s really important to set boundaries. I make sure I only do work during my “work hours” and close my laptop at 5 p.m. each weekday, even if I’m not completely finished with what I’m working on. On top of that, I try to not do work on the weekends if I can. It’s important to keep track of your to-do lists, but it’s equally important to make sure you’re scheduling your “me time” to decompress after a busy day!
If you’re living around Villanova, what are one to two “must do” experiences you would suggest to students new to Villanova and the surrounding area including Philadelphia?
I have to suggest going to a 76ers game at the Wells Fargo Center at least once during your time here. Philly sports fans are like no other, and 76ers fans in particular make the energy in the stadium out of this world. You can usually get cheap rush tickets if you wait until the day of to purchase them! If you prefer being outside, Longwood Gardens is incredibly beautiful—especially in both the summer and the winter seasons—and you can get a discount if you use your Wildcard when purchasing your ticket!
Describe what it means to be a graduate student at Villanova. In other words, why Villanova?
I feel so incredibly blessed to be here. I remember touring a year ago and immediately understanding that Villanova was a special place. The Counseling program has provided me with so many opportunities to learn both in the classroom and at my practicum site, and I truly feel like I come home every day having learned something instrumental to my future practice. Not only are the professors here amazing, but getting to meet my cohort—as well as graduate students from other programs—has allowed me to make life-long friends who are so passionate about their research and future work. The community here is truly like no other, and I feel like you can get a sense of that the moment you step onto campus.