Serving as an elementary school counselor offers numerous psychological rewards for Chaminade University alumna Kelly Asato. One of the greatest, she says, is building relationships with students and their families during that early and critical phase of an educational journey.
“There is a tremendous amount of responsibility to make sure that the student has a positive experience in school that will lay the foundation for the rest of their time in middle and high school,” Asato says.
“Through these developmental years, students learn how to communicate, problem solve, work together with their peers and build study skills necessary to be competent learners,” Asato points out. “Knowing that I played some role in that developmental process is very rewarding and gratifying.”
At Ma’ema’e Elementary School in Honolulu, where Asato has worked since 2010, she counsels the same students as they progress from kindergarten through fifth grade. So naturally she becomes attached to the keiki and their parents.
“For me, the simple ‘thank you’ and ‘we appreciate what you have done to help our child’ is enough to help me get through the rough days and keep going day in and day out,” Asato says.
After Asato obtained her undergraduate degree on the Mainland, she returned home to Hawaii for graduate school and to pursue a counseling career. In 2009 she earned a master’s of science degree in counseling psychology with a school counseling emphasis.
“Knowing that Chaminade had a master’s program that specialized in not only counseling psychology but also allowed students to choose their emphasis was ideal for me,” Asato says. “And that was the primary reason why I chose Chaminade over other institutions.”
The most beneficial aspect of her university experience, Asato says, was being embedded at local schools during the practicum and internship parts of the program. That gave her the knowledge and skills required for transitioning into the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE).
“I appreciated that many of the teachers who taught the classes for the program actually had experience working in the DOE, currently as school counselors or in other capacities,” Asato says. “That wealth of knowledge and firsthand experience was definitely beneficial to my growth as a student.”
The Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology (MSCP) program is part of the Division of Behavioral Sciences. The program includes three concentrations: School Counseling, Mental Health Counseling, and Marriage and Family Counseling. MSCP prepares graduates for careers in community and school settings. Graduates assist children, youth and adults in adapting to various educational, family, organizational and societal demands. The program includes the foundational use of standards established by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).