Introducing Arielle Estes, VASC’s Graduate Student of the Month for January!

Arielle Estes was nominated by the faculty at Virginia Tech because “Arielle has been actively involved in her internship at Christiansburg Elementary School, and has also been running an additional group experience with the Southwest Virginia Governor¹s School. She is a great example of the students we have in the VT program.”

Keep reading to learn more about Arielle!

1. Please state which graduate program and school you are participating in, and why you chose that program/school.

I’m in my second year in the Counselor Education program at Virginia Tech. I thought
choosing my Master’s program would be hard but the faculty in Virginia Tech’s program
made it extremely easy for me. I had heard great things about the program when I attended
Virginia Tech for my undergraduate degree but it was the interview process that finalized
my decision. I was very impressed with the curriculum and knew it is a CACREP accredited
program. Although I was nervous during the interview process, the faculty was welcoming
and I knew it was a good fit for me. I’m continuously thankful for the education and skills
I’ve acquired through the Counselor Education program at Virginia Tech.
2. What are some of the difficulties you have faced, and how have you or how are you
overcoming these difficulties?

One of my biggest difficulties is the desire to do it all! I want to be able to reach out and
help every student that comes my way. It’s been a difficult lesson to learn that I have
limitations and can only do so much. Through my Internship I have learned that school
counseling is all about balance and every day requires flexibility. So I have been learning
what I am capable of doing in the school counselor role and how I can work with outside
community resources to further help students. I’m overcoming these difficulties by
appreciating what I am capable of doing and embracing the ambiguity that the day may
bring with flexibility. I am amazed at how many “hats” school counselors wear and am
excited to graduate to claim them as my own!
3. Describe the journey that made you pursue counseling as a profession.

While pursuing my undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech I had many opportunities to
work in the field outside of the classroom. I have been fortunate enough to work with a low
income child care center for two semesters. I volunteered at a women’s shelter the summer
of 2010 and during my final semesters at Virginia Tech as an undergraduate I interned at
New River Valley Juvenile Detention Home. All of these experiences showed me the
strength and resilience children, adolescents, and women have and lead me towards a
career in counseling. After I graduated I became an Intensive In-Home Counselor and
collaborated with school counselors. This experience inspired me and motivated me to
pursue a career in School Counseling.
4. What are some of your hopes and concerns for the future as a counselor entering the

I have high hopes that I will make a positive impact in the school and community that I will
be working with. I believe my counseling foundation is strong; I’ll be able to empower and
advocate for students. I hope to continue utilizing mindfulness within my career as a school
counselor and share results with other professionals.

While I am excited to embrace the multiple roles a school counselor embodies, some of the
roles bring concern. My concern is that I am able to stay true to the profession and not get
lost with administrative duties. My primary focus is to provide direct services to my
students and would like to spend the majority of my time doing so.


5. Describe what your world would be like if you woke up tomorrow and everything is just
as you hoped educationally and professionally.

Educationally, I would have passed the final comprehensive exam and graduated with my
degree in Counselor Education. Professionally I would be employed as a school counselor
in the Alleghany County area. I would know the local resources that can help my students
and their families. I would be working with the community and my fellow counselors to
ensure all students have the opportunity to succeed. I also would continue my membership
with VCA and VASC to continue learning and connecting with counselors. Although I will
have graduated, I don’t believe I’ll ever stop being a student.


6. Please describe your top three forms of self care (does it involve dessert?)

I love this question because I’ve learned how important self care is in this field! I enjoy
incorporating mindfulness in my counseling work and use mindfulness in my self-care as
well. Specifically I practice yoga whenever I can; sometimes this means a quick 5 minutes
to ground myself and recharge. I also enjoy spending time with my friends, family, and
fiancé. Everyone in my life has been extremely supportive of me while getting my Master’s
and I love being able to take time to be goofy and have fun with them. Since I commute to
classes, internship, and to visit family and friends my newest form of self care is listening to
audiobooks. I even listen to them when I make dinner or do chores. It makes the smallest
tasks fun!


7. Please tell us about research or projects that you have been involved in.

This past semester I had the opportunity to play a part in a research project Dr. Gerard
Lawson and Dr. Laura Farmer have been working on. Virginia Tech collaborated with a
local governor’s school to provide a group counseling experience to help with anxiety,
stress, and focus. I co-facilitated four groups to help with the transition and the new
expectations the students often face when entering a rigorous Governor’s School program.
Pre and post tests were given and are currently being compared. The student’s grades will
also be compared to previous years to see if the stress management groups correlate with
higher grades and overall academic success.
Within this group we introduced and practiced mindfulness. I enjoy incorporating
mindfulness into my own life and was excited to see students embrace and challenge the
concept of mindfulness to reduce stress and increase focus.
8. What else would you like to share?

I would love to share a quote that has stayed with me since my orientation class.
Counselors are the “holders of hope and agents of change”, said by Gerianne Barber. I think
this quote embodies what a counselor is and what I plan to be.


The Counselor Education program at Virginia Tech was recognized in 2008 by the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision as “Outstanding Masters and Doctoral Counselor Education Program.”  In 2009, the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision awarded the Virginia Tech Counselor Education Program with the Robert L. Frank Outstanding Counselor Education Award.

The Virginia Tech Counselor Education Master’s program is a full-time, two year, 60 credit hour program located at the Roanoke Higher Education Center. The program is facilitated by core faculty in the state-of-the-art Counselor Education Clinic. The first semester of the program consists of classroom study, and beginning in the second semester students are engaged in clinical study throughout the remainder of their program.

Students who graduate with a master’s degree in the school counseling track are qualified and endorsed by the faculty for licensure/certification as school counselors by the Virginia Department of Education. They may also accrue supervision hours toward the Licensed Professional Counselor credential awarded by the Virginia Department of Health Professions while serving as a school counselor.

Another neat item to note: at the VCA convention in November, the Program Area Leader, Associate Professor Dr. Gerard Lawson was presented the John R Cook Award.


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