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Saturday, May 8, 2021

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Kaitlin Chau Kaitlin Chau
 


#SDSUGrad: Kaitlin Chau

In the fall, Kaitlin Chau will attend Boston College as part of the master’s program in school counseling.
By SDSU News Team
 

Over the past year, the San Diego State University community has shown its true resilience. Graduates from the Class of 2021 are no exception. During this unprecedented time in human history, the university has prioritized providing students with important services like virtual academic supportemergency financial assistance and other support services. In particular, SDSU Career Services continues to offer resources for students, including the online career platform Handshake and expanded virtual programming and advising.

In this series, we highlight graduates as they prepare to embark on the next chapter of their lives, including those who have secured jobs and internships or are moving into advanced studies. 

Name: Kaitlin Chau
Major (and minor): Psychology with minors in counseling and social change and cultural proficiency
Hometown: San Diego, Calif.

Can you describe a little bit about yourself and what led you to pursue psychology as an area of study?

I was accepted into SDSU for communications and thought about teaching English, but after taking the AP Psychology test, my dad suggested I switch to psychology. He recognized before I did that it was something I understood and was truly interested in. The common denominator with all of these fields was a love for stories and connections. I was nervous at first, but the more professionals I saw who looked like me (Asian American) in the helping field, the more confidence I gained. Ultimately, I wanted to provide this representation, support, and focus on mental health to younger, marginalized students in K-12 education.

When did you decide to pursue graduate studies and what did that process entail? 

When I decided I wanted to be a school counselor, I knew I would need to pursue a master’s degree. I will be the first in my family to pursue graduate education, and the idea was really daunting at first. But the more I reached out to my mentors, peers, and family about pursuing graduate school, they were all incredibly supportive and friendly about guiding me in the right direction. 

I am also so grateful for my mentor from the Aztec Mentor Program who helped review my many, many essay drafts, and most importantly, kept me grounded throughout the process. I began seriously writing my essays in October, reached out to recommendation letter writers in early November, submitted my applications in December and January, and took part in interviews throughout February. As I was choosing schools, something I considered was the way I felt after interacting with faculty and students, what schedule works best with my learning, and the assistantships offered. 

When did you receive your graduate program acceptance and what was your reaction?

I received the email of my acceptance to the master’s program in school counseling at Boston College as I was entering a Zoom meeting as a Student Advisory Committee member for Active Minds National. Active Minds really changed my life, and it felt very fitting that I received the news as I was taking part in this role; it was almost as if the universe was telling me I’m right where I should be and my hard work these last three years really paid off. 

What advice do you have for fellow students, regardless of their field, looking to attend graduate school post graduation?

Applying to graduate school is definitely not a walk in the park; it can become easily overwhelming to navigate the world of graduate school. But hold onto your “why,” know that there is support out there that want to help you and see you succeed, and schedule in self-care time. Be as flexible with your mindset as you can and if you get in then fantastic, but if you don’t, know that there are so many great opportunities out there to explore first. 

What is it that you are most looking forward to as you kick start this next chapter? 

I am most looking forward to exploring a completely new place with real seasons. I was born and raised in Southern California, so there will definitely be adjusting to do but I think it is for the better. Additionally, I know the positions I am currently in are allowing me to create change, especially in terms of mental health stigma, but I am also really excited to work with K-12 students more. 

How did SDSU prepare you for success not only at the university but after graduation?

SDSU prepared me by giving me a sense of community and belonging I have rarely ever felt before. Between student organizations, classes, internships, and more, I have built a great support system I know that I can lean on when things get hard, even if I’m across the country. I have also accomplished a lot of things I never thought I would do, including being president of a student organization. The people of SDSU empowered me with a greater confidence in myself and my abilities compared to when I first entered. 

What experience at SDSU has changed your life the most?

It’s so hard to pick one because SDSU gave me so many connections I am so grateful to have. But I would have to say my experience in student organizations as well as being in the counseling and social change minor has changed my life the most. I never thought of myself as a leader, but that changed as I found the things I was passionate about (Active Minds specifically) and was able to share and be vulnerable with my peers. Similarly, the the minor provided a safe space to explore my identity and values, and I would be nowhere without it and the supportive faculty.