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Jessica Schillings-Barrera: Alum M.S. Counseling

Undergraduate Program: UC Riverside, 2008, B.A. Interdisciplinary Studies

Master's Program: Educational Counseling, 2013

Current position: STEM/Transfer Program Coordinator, Mission College Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution - (AANAPISI Programs)

How/why did you choose your respective program?

I chose CSUB's educational counseling program specifically because of its former director, Nancy Bringman. She was so supportive, insightful, sharp and dedicated to her students. I knew she was someone I could learn a lot from even after my first phone conversation with her as a confused applicant. I also chose CSUB because of its proximity to my family, as well as the fact that cost of attendance was lower than some other institutions.

I chose to study educational counseling, specifically, because nothing is more important to me than education – making sure students at all levels truly understand the choices they have so that they have the best chance at living an authentic life. I majored in K-12 counseling, but now work exclusively with college students.

Did you work first or go straight into the program after your undergraduate studies?

After graduating from UCR in 2008, I worked as a reporter and editor at a daily paper before I went back to earn my graduate degree. I do regret the fact that I didn't continue my education right away, but that first job taught me so many valuable lessons.

What was your favorite course(s) and why?

I enjoyed my adult and child development courses, as well as my cross-cultural counseling class.  I wondered what in the world we would be taught in cross-cultural when I originally enrolled in it. How do you teach cultural competency? It turned out to be a fantastic experience that allowed me to learn each of my classmate's stories. That's an experience I still carry with me.

What are some of the benefits of having received a master's degree?

I'm convinced that I would not have the job I have now were it not for my master's degree, as well as some of the internship experiences I lined up as part of the CSUB program. While my job now is technically a bachelor-level position, they had many, very well qualified candidates apply. The extra degree made me stand out from the pack. A Master's degree also means that I can someday move up the ladder to run my own program someday if I want,or move into to school counseling.

How did your program prepare you for your current position?

I would say that my internship experiences while in my graduate program taught me the most in terms of how of do the job I currently hold. I was lucky enough to intern for the CSUB Academic Advising Center. My supervisor there was nothing but encouraging, allowing me to create programs on my own and truly become part of the AARC team. Learning from my professors who worked in student affairs certainly helps me today, as well.

What are the benefits of attending CSUB for your master's degree?

The cost. I won't pretend the student loans aren't a burden, but it could be far worse if I had gone somewhere else. CSUB is also a small campus, which means that you are ultimately competing with fewer people for internships, etc.



Open Quote
I'm convinced that I would not have the job I have now were it not for my master's degree...A Master's degree means that I can someday move up the ladder to run my own program someday if I want,or move into to school counseling. Close Quote
Jessica Schillings-Barrera
Alum, M.S. Counseling

Jessica