Emily Catlett is a school counselor at Luther Burbank High School, at least that’s one of the hats she wears. You could call Catlett a lifetime learner, passing down her acquired knowledge to everyone she encounters in her profession. 

(Photo Courtesy of Emily Catlett)

(Photo Courtesy of Emily Catlett)

What does your current job entail?

“I am a full-time high school counselor, adjunct community college counselor and registered art therapist. My role as a counselor is mostly to listen and offer support and resources.”

What is your favorite part of your daily duties?

“I love the variety of my work. High school and community college are very dynamic places. There is always something going on and I get the opportunity to meet new people every day. This makes my work very interesting. I thrive in work situations where I am constantly collaborating and problem solving. In short, I enjoy learning and understanding all the components of how people learn.”

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?

“My formal and informal education has prepared me for my current role. My formal education consists of an undergraduate major in Southeast Asian studies and geography from University of Wisconsin, Madison, a master’s degree in educational counseling from National University, Sacramento and an additional master’s degree in art therapy from Notre Dame de Namur, Belmont, CA.  I have a PPS (Pupil Personnel Services) credential that provides me the opportunity to work in an educational setting.”

“My informal education consists of a myriad of experiences that have made me the person I am. My father was in the Navy and we moved constantly. I learned how to communicate and make friends early. The most integral piece of my informal education would be the overall transformative outcomes of personal hardships. I have had the opportunity to grow as a person and I am wiser and happier today from my past failures/challenges.”

“I think my formal and informal education have prepared me for my current role as a counselor because I am able to relate to my students and clients. I can be authentic because I have a rich life filled with experiences that have cultivated my narrative. I am willing to share my narrative and in turn others choose to share theirs with me. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work closely with my students, clients and co-workers.”

Do you have any advice for people wanting to pursue a similar career?

“I think school counseling is an excellent field to pursue. In California, the suggested national ratio is not nearly met and that unmet need is obvious when we look at the achievement gap among African-American and Latino students, recent immigrants, and first-generation college students. My advice would be to pursue a career in counseling if you desire to educate and promote self efficacy and accountability. It is easy to step in and ‘do’ things for students. It is much harder to teach the skills of becoming a committed and successful community member.”

Christopher Millard is a freelance writer and cultural critic whose music reviews can be found on Examiner.com. He also works as a publicist for Valence Communications Group and is a contributor to the health and wellness magazine, Hybrid. Chris currently resides in Sacramento, California.