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About Hofstra

In Focus: Jillian D'Ornellas

Tell us about your path to Hofstra University.
I had taken an undergraduate class in Marriage and Family Therapy and thought it was very interesting. I also worked on a crisis hotline and I noticed that lots of people called about families and family issues. I started to make connections between my interests and what I saw was needed in the field. I always knew I wanted to be counselor I just wasn't sure of exactly which path was right for me. When I looked into Hofstra’s program, the Saltzman Center Clinic stood out for me. I really liked the idea of having clinical experiences right on campus.

What opportunities did you take advantage of at Hofstra?
Well, I am Dr. Atwood’s Graduate Assistant right now and before that, I was George Simon’s Graduate Assistant. During my clinical experience, I was able to work in the Saltzman Center Clinic and spent lots of time there, not because I had to but because I really wanted to.   It was a great opportunity for me to work with a variety of clients including many couples and families. The experience really prepared me to feel confident working with many different populations.

Have you found mentors among any of the faculty here?
All the professors have been so wonderful. Dr. Atwood has really been a great mentor to me. The program is designed so students really get to know the whole faculty very well.  Also, George Simon was a wonderful resource throughout practicum class. I had a really great personal experience. Being a part of this program has really changed me. Being able to work closely with well-respected professors in the field was a unique opportunity.

How has your experience prepared you for your future job search?
I think the fact that we have two years of practical experience is key. We have a chance to work with a variety of clients. When I entered my 3rd-year internship, I was really prepared and ready to take on clients immediately. I imagine, by the time I graduate, all the thorough preparation I receive in this program will give me what I need when seeking employment. I feel ready.

What advice would you give to others considering attending Hofstra’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program?
You only get out as much as you put into anything. I think you need to be prepared to give your time and dedicate yourself to what you are learning. The faculty and your peers can provide a lot of support and add to your learning but I really had to make my own experience. I had opportunities to expand my learning and I took advantage of them. The program is well paced and I felt supported even though at times moving to the next level was a little intimidating.

Jillian D'Ornellas

M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy ‘13
Valley Stream, NY