As an undergraduate student, Meg Mealy pursued a degree in video production as a way to put her love of theater and creativity to work.
During her most recent job — producing videos for National Geographic — Mealy thought she’d made the right choice. She loved the highly creative, tight-knit environment, and enjoyed facilitating such environments through several leadership programs. After years of highly competitive work in the industry at a fast and furious pace, however, Mealy began to question herself, wondering why she no longer felt passionate about a field she had once loved.
“I would look at my coworkers working 60 hours a week on videos, and I just didn’t get it,” she said. “I didn’t have that drive to do that. I began to wonder if I was just lazy or didn’t like to work. It was frustrating because I wasn’t as happy as I thought I should have been, and I didn’t know why.”
About a year ago, while attending a lecture on social media, learning how to cater videos to young people and social media, Mealy watched her coworkers vigorously take notes, fully intent on applying the tips and rules to hold young people captive.
“As I looked around that room, I thought, ‘This is the exact opposite of what I want to do.’ I wanted to help children go out and play, to learn to talk to one another. Why would I encourage them to spend more time on their phone?”
At this point, Meg realized that as much as she loved this industry, it did not match her values.
With that realization came some serious soul-searching. She challenged herself to find a time in her life when she was driven and found energy through her work, instead of feeling drained. She reflected on her days as a camp counselor in high school.
“I realized that being with 12-year-olds made me come alive,” she said. “After spending a day with them, I remember being full of energy and passion. I think I recognized that back then, but I thought everybody could be with 12-year-olds. As I reflected back this time around, I realized this wasn’t true. I was able to relate to and talk to these young people at a level most people couldn’t.”
Path to CSU
Meg began to research school counseling programs across the country, and applied to several, including the CSU School of Education’s Counseling and Career Development master’s program. Although Colorado was out-of-state, the program at CSU quickly rose to the top of her list.
“I first liked how they had an interview. Not all schools I applied for did an interview, and that told me that the faculty cared about getting to know you,” she said. “There was also a huge difference in the way they conducted the interview: All the questions were personality-based and focused on my capacity to care, instead of asking what my skills or grades were.”
Another differentiating factor was the fact that the program at CSU did not require a GRE — to Meg, this was further confirmation that the program faculty cared about the people, rather than their ability to test. Finally, CSU’s intimate, cohort-style program seemed focused on equipping counselors to positively affect others.
Upon receiving acceptance letters from multiple programs, Meg reviewed her notes and easily made the decision to attend CSU.
“It was a no-brainer,” she said.
‘Sense of purpose’
After selecting the school counseling track and completing her first semester in the CCD program, Meg is more convinced than ever that her decision to pursue a career as a middle school counselor was the right decision.
“This first semester made it even more clear that this is exactly the profession I want to be in; it is the perfect program for me, and what we learn in our classes confirms that even further. I realized that, as a producer, I was working in my strengths, but those strengths were draining me. What I’m pursuing here has ignited my sense of purpose in life.”
For those who might be considering a career in counseling, Meg offers this advice: “Find what excites you and what you gain energy from. Look at your daily life, at things that empower and uplift you, and consider what it is about those events that creates that drive.” With a ringing endorsement, she adds, “If you’re considering counseling, I can’t recommend our program enough!”
The School of Education’s Counseling and Career Development master’s program focuses on both school counseling and career counseling. Program requirements, curriculum, and application instructions are available here. Applications are due Feb. 1; questions about the program and/or application may directed to Laurie Carlson, program coordinator and associate professor, at (970) 491-6826 or firstname.lastname@example.org.