Student Spotlight: Jessica Brousseau, CAGS AEL Program
Jessica Brousseau is a student in the UNE Online CAGS in Advanced Educational Leadership program. As a high school counselor, she enjoys learning from the diverse perspectives and experiences of her classmates, and she feels that she especially benefits from learning how her classmates in other states deal with common situations in different ways. We spoke with her recently about her experience of being a first time 100% online student and got her perspective on the program.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself, and what encouraged you to pursue your CAGS AEL?
I work at a regional high school in Litchfield, Connecticut. This is my second year as a school counselor there, working with kids in grades 9-12. Prior to that, while I was a graduate student earning my Master’s in School Counseling at the University of St. Joseph’s in West Hartford, CT, I was a school counseling intern. I’m pretty new to the school counseling scene, but I’ve always known that I wanted to work with kids.
Prior to working as a school counselor, I worked as a clinician at a school in New Britain, CT and I’m planning on completing the requirements necessary to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) this summer. When people go to graduate school, typically they complete either a clinical mental health program or a school counseling program. I did a combination because I enjoy working on the clinical side of counseling as well as the school side, so with a license, I’m able to keep my options open.
My ultimate end goal and the reason I entered the online CAGS AEL program is that I would like to become the director of a school counseling program in the future. Further down the road, there would be the potential of working with kids as an Assistant Principal and working with young adults and adults doing private practice on the side. That’s my goal.
How did you decide on UNE?
One of my former supervisors completed her CAGS AEL program at UNE Online and spoke very highly of the experience. I knew I had to find a regionally-accredited program so that I could practice in the state of Connecticut. To be honest, at first, I was a little skeptical of an online program. I’d taken a couple of online classes during my undergrad experience, but it had been a long time. Turns out that I actually like it a lot!
What in particular do you like about the online CAGS AEL program?
I like that the format is super flexible. For example, I was able to complete my first couple of classes really quickly, because I had the time. With the classes I’m in right now, such as School Law, which is a more difficult and time-consuming class, I like the fact that I’m able to work around my school schedule. The end of the school year is super busy in particular, so it’s great to have such a flexible program.
What surprised you about UNE Online?
One of the things that I’ve really enjoyed is working with my Student Support Specialist Brendan Parsons. I came into the program with a very clear picture of how quickly I wanted to complete this CAGS AEL, and he made it happen for me. The program advises against doubling up on classes until you’ve taken a certain amount of courses, but after my first class my schedule was such that I realized that I could handle the workload of two classes at a time.
He made it super easy for me, got the approval from the program for me to complete the classes at my accelerated pace, and I ended up saving myself an entire semester of time!
So, how long will it take you to earn this online CAGS AEL?
I’ve managed to get it done fairly quickly — I’ll be done with the program in a little over a year.
Have you found the online atmosphere conducive to feeling that you’re in a community?
Definitely! It’s interesting because there are others that have been in my courses that I’m familiar with outside of our classes, as they work in Connecticut as well. Education is a somewhat small field when you think about it. I enjoyed getting points of view from people who work in my own state, but I also really enjoyed getting to learn about other people’s states.
For example, there were many diverse perspectives in my School Law class. We each were required to assemble a compendium of facts and laws that we learned about our home states, and then we shared them. Especially interesting to me was learning about the differences between Connecticut and Massachusetts. That was great.
If there’s one thing you would want a potential student to know before starting this program, what would it be?
Your classes are as valuable as the effort that you put into them. The online CAGS AEL program is self-paced, which is awesome, but you have to be committed to really take the time to read, do the work, and reflect on it to get the most out of the experience.
If you are interested in the online Graduate Programs in Education or if you would like more information on UNE Online’s MSEd, PMC, CAGS or Ed.D. programs, please reach out to an Enrollment Counselor at (800) 994-2804 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, if you’re ready to apply, fill out your online application at online.une.edu/gateway-portal-page.
Additional Education program information can be found by clicking go.une.edu/graduate-degree-education-programs