In Focus: Mary DeGiovine
What led you to pursue a degree in Rehabilitation Counseling at Hofstra?
I began my career search looking into the field of Social Work. I ultimately determined this was the wrong career path for me when looking for a car I realized the car salesman selling me the car was a Social Worker. This led me to realize that the job market for this field was lacking. My mentor, who has been a professor of mine at Suffolk Community College, recommended I contact the director of the Hofstra Rehabilitation Counseling Program at the time, Joe Lechowicz. My mentor felt this field would be a good fit for me. Upon researching the program I determined the program location was geographically desirable and, I learned about some of the scholarships the program offered. This all led to my decision.
What is your advice for those considering a career in Rehabilitation Counseling?
You should be comfortable with people with disabilities in general if you are looking into this field. You should be able to speak comfortably and communicate with people with many different types of disabilities. Always be aware of your body language; it is very telling. If you are uncomfortable, your body language will portray this. As well, you should be comfortable working with people from different cultures and educate yourself about cultural differences. Be prepared to deal with all the limitations and barriers that accompany a disability when helping individuals return to work.
What did you like most about the program at Hofstra?
I loved the students with whom I attended program. We had great rapport and worked as a team. I loved the faculty. They are phenomenal and were always open and available. The highlight of my time in the program would have to be when my fellow students nominated me for the position of Rehabilitation Counseling Association President. They did so without prompting and even after I expressed some hesitation. It was a tremendous compliment.
What would you consider to be the greatest asset of the program?
The greatest asset of the program would have to be the knowledge base and experience of the faculty. They provided me with all the information I needed to know before beginning my internship. They are very knowledgeable regarding the agencies and organizations in the area within the field and they have numerous contacts within the field and are always networking.
What is your advice for individuals currently researching graduate programs?
After speaking with faculty at programs, speak to people who are currently working in the field and have been working in the field for a minimum of five to ten years. Make an appointment and conduct an informal interview with them. Utilize the knowledge and input they give you in determining the program that best fits you and your needs. Try to meet with a professional who works with your population of interest.
Tell us about your internship experiences.
I completed two internships as part of the curriculum. After completing 300 hours at my first site, faculty supported my decision to intern at a new site that I felt had a better fit for me. I ended up receiving a job offer at the facility where I completed my second 300 hours.
Tell us about the Rehabilitation Counseling Student Association.
I served as president of the Rehabilitation Counseling Student Association during my time in the program. The association is great. I loved it. I met a future colleague through the association. It allowed networking opportunities and opportunities for me to gain more professional exposure.
Describe the benefits of receiving your degree and comprehensive training from Hofstra.
The name Hofstra alone, I have found, opens doors and gets the red carpet rolled out. Hofstra’s program is known in the field and its reputation is quite good. Having a master’s degree has earned me professional respect I did not have previously. Having those letters (M.S.Ed.) after my name results in my getting professional respect without saying a word.
What job opportunities has your participation in the program afforded to you?
It allowed me a number of job opportunities I would not have had without this knowledge and my degree. I currently work for the Veteran’s Administration and the Pederson Krag clinic. I have also worked for Suffolk County a couple of years as a Vocational Counselor during my career.
How did you finance your degree?
I financed my degree through a combination of scholarships offered by the program and my own personal finances. I was even able to receive an extra scholarship by promoting the program at local colleges.