Student Profile: Rasheda Randall, M.S.Ed. '15

What was your educational/career background coming into the program?

I am an urban educator. Within the past 5 years, I have taught both public middle and high school students with special needs. While working as a special education teacher, I encounter many issues related to motivation and cognition that I had studied as a psychology major during my undergraduate studies. Despite my success as a teacher of students with special needs, I felt that I needed more tools in order to strengthen my skills as an educator. I wanted to ascertain a deeper understanding of the relationship between thoughts, feelings and academic achievement.

Why did you choose SMHC at Penn GSE?

I choose the SMCH program at GSE because I wanted to become a school counselor and meet the needs of my students, many of whom experience traumatic events that pose a barrier to their academic achievement. The program focuses on counseling within urban and multicultural educational and mental health contexts. As an urban educator, I am committed to working within urban multicultural contexts. The SMHC program allowed me to learn and gain insight into helping young low-income children succeed both academically and emotionally. 

How has the integration of school & mental health counseling in our program contributed to your education/experience?

Within the first year of the SMHC program, I applied my supervised practicum hours to counsel individual and small groups of students with special needs. I was able to draw upon the theoretical frameworks that I had learned in the SMHC program, along with my skills as a seasoned educator. This combination of both theory and practice enabled me to provide my students with a therapeutic environment that enhanced their well-being and academic achievement. 

What has the experience of the program been like in regards to time management? How have/did you balance work, family, field placements, classes, assignments, etc.

Essential to my success in this program are my supportive friends, family members and GSE professors. The SMHC professors provide their students with an academic environment that fosters inquiry, ethical practice and creativity. The program also enables me to maintain a practical work-family-school balance.  

How has the diversity of the cohort contributed to your experience?

The diversity of my cohort has both supported me and inspired me to reflect, inquire and explore topics related to counseling with different demographic populations. Their professional and personal experiences challenge my ideas in a respectful and professional learning environment.