In Focus: Natalie Rose LaGrua
Tell us about your path to Hofstra University.
I was an undergraduate student at Hofstra University from 2002-2006. Upon graduating with my BA in Psychology I headed into the business world. After two years working in the unrelated insurance industry I realized it was time to get back to school and work towards my master’s degree, in the field I had passion for...Mental Health Counseling. Since my undergrad connections were strongly developed it was very easy to get reconnected and begin my graduate application.
How did you decide to pursue a career in counseling?
I fell in love with counseling in high school. I had a HS guidance counselor who always was there with helpful advice and a smile. I knew that that job was for me. I am very outgoing, love talking with people and I especially love helping people.
What opportunities did you take advantage of at Hofstra?
Hofstra always presented me with plenty of opportunities. In my undergraduate years I was a Resident Assistant as well as a sister of Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority. I had experience working in the Provost's office as well as working in the Student Activities office, ao I was fairly acquainted coming in as a graduate student.
I was a member and co-president of Chi Sigma Iota honor society throughout my graduate studies. In my last semester with Chi Sig, my fellow co-presidents and I presented a research study at the AMHCA (American Mental Health Counselors Association) Conference in Boston. We also planned our annual induction ceremony to acknowledge our honor society membership. Additionally I was a member of the Counseling Club and participated in the many informative events held through their club.
Tell us about your internship experiences.
My internship was at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, NY. This is where I was able to put my tools to work. I worked in a Day Treatment program with a mentally ill population. I ran group sessions, individual sessions and intakes. My supervisor there was more than dedicated to providing me with feedback and insight. This experience really solidified my Hofstra MHC education.
Did you encounter any inspiring faculty at Hofstra?
The MHC grad program has by far the best professors you can ask for! While I was a graduate student I was the graduate assistant for Dr. Laurie Johnson. She is a wonderful person and even better professor; her lectures always were very interesting and her way of teaching proved itself by the way we all retained the information. Dr. Holly Seirup, who I also had worked with on a research project, is the most approachable, friendly and knowledgeable woman. I also had several classes with Dr. Genevieve Weber who provided us with a friendly smile and open door if we ever had any questions on the material. Next I had Dr. Daniel Sciarra, who provided us with great examples during our internship semesters. Overall, the professors in the MHC program are just outstanding. I would not have been half the clinician I was upon graduation without their teaching and guidance.
How were you able to finance your education at Hofstra? Did you receive any scholarships or assistantships?
I was fortunate enough to obtain a graduate assistantship at the Career Center. The Career Center was 100% supportive during my studies as well as provided me with further counseling experience. I worked on special projects as well as held open "quick question" hours where students would come for resume critiques and general job searching help. This experience truly benefited me financially and professionally.
Have you found mentors among any of the faculty here?
I would say that if I became half of the professional that Dr Laurie Johnson is, I would be a success. She is an outstanding role model and always pushed us to be our best. I am honored and privileged to have been taught the counseling skill set I have by her.
How has your experience prepared you for your future job search?
Coming out of graduate school I was fully prepared for my first position in the counseling world. We were given much more "hands on" experience than any other entry-level coworkers I came across. Our practicum course as well as our internships prepared us to the fullest extent for the working world.
What advice would you give to others considering attending Hofstra?
I would tell anyone considering Hofstra's M.A. in Mental Health Counseling program that there is not a better program out there. I have met plenty of entry level MHC's and they are not nearly as prepared as I was for the field. When I compare courses or experiences with people who had attended other programs, nothing comes close to what Hofstra provided me with.