We each belong to a segment of society defined as our “culture,” i.e. the American culture.
However, within the broader culture are countless “sub-cultures” that shape who we are and more narrowly classify us as individuals – sub-cultures like our professions, family units, ethnic backgrounds, affiliations, hobbies, addictions, religions, corporations, and lifestyles. Crossing from one culture to another, or merging cultures, is often very difficult, but for Kevin Jessup, it also proved to be very rewarding.
Like many in mid-life, Jessup began to see the bigger picture. His career in advertising and multimedia, though enjoyable, did not provide the opportunities he desired to make more important and meaningful contributions to the people around him. So in his early 40s, Jessup transitioned from a large corporation to a social model rehabilitation center, where he took his first steps in counseling, by working with addicted youth. Not surprisingly, the “culture shock” rivaled that of any move to a foreign country.
“As I was exposed to the real stories of people’s lives, I saw that treating symptoms such as substance abuse or criminal behavior required that I have knowledge and ability to help my clients find healing for themselves in many contributing areas,” says Jessup. “It was clear that I needed more skills and education to effectively and ethically work with the clients assigned to me. I needed greater emotional, mental, behavioral, and cultural understanding.”
Jessup conducted a multi-state search for a professional counseling program before landing at Ottawa University.
“To be honest, I learned that Ottawa was the best choice among multiple colleges in multiple states for the education I needed. I discovered that OU is leading the way in educating students to become professionals equipped with the skills to address the aspects of people’s lives most gravely affected through exposure to trauma. I came for an education, but I graduated as both a profoundly enhanced person and an extremely well-prepared professional counselor.”
Jessup earned both an MA in Professional Counseling with a specialization in the Treatment of Trauma, Abuse and Deprivation and an MA in Human Resources with a specialization in Substance Abuse Counseling from OU in 2010. As a result of his education and experience, as well as the “great skills” he practiced during his clinical placements through OU, Jessup was quickly hired by the Arizona Department of Health Services as a therapist in the State Hospital. He works with a caseload comprised of both civil and forensic patients in a level one facility where the most challenged human beings in the state are sent to find recovery.
“It is my privilege to walk their journey with them and not for them, as I learned in class,” he says. “The skills and knowledge I heard practiced by my professors in their daily work as therapists and helping professionals gave me the courage to meet my patients where they are, no matter how hard or frightening. Despite debilitating types of diagnoses and social situations, I see the most gravely ill people find happy and useful lives.”
Ottawa University’s 60 semester-credithour Master of Arts in Professional Counseling program is one of the most rigorous in the State of Arizona. Informed by national standards, mindful of best practices and open to current thinking, students not only gain instruction in all areas of professional counseling, but they also take part in a practicum and/or internship designed to meet the educational requirements of the State of Arizona for licensure.
Students also have the option of adding five specializations to their degree to enhance their knowledge base: Christian Counseling; Expressive Arts Therapy; Gerocounseling; Substance Abuse Counseling; and Treatment of Trauma, Abuse and Deprivation.
“I think Kevin is an excellent example of why our program is so valued,” said Dr. Trish Hernandez, associate professor of professional counseling. “Motivated adults seek us out, mostly by word of mouth from the community, and they stay due to the flexibility of the program, the concentrated areas of study and the dedicated faculty in the classroom.”
Jessup is soon to be awarded his Arizona professional counseling license and plans to continue his work as a therapist. He also plans to enter another professional culture – that of teaching.
“After being exposed to the many dedicated people who were part of my Ottawa experience, I want to give back and teach in a collegiate environment, as well. While doing that, I hope to encounter another ‘me’ who needs not just ‘classes’ from their university, but a life-changing experience.”
Visit www.ottawa.edu/Programs/Graduate to learn more about Ottawa University’s MA in Professional Counseling program.
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