Meet Our Students: Rita Field
A monthly series to help you get to know the students of NLU, where they've come from and the things they've experienced on the journey toward their degree.
Graduate student from Bloomfield Hills, MI
Pursuing Ed.S. in School Psychology
What brought you to NLU?
I originally received my B.A. in Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Michigan. I had spent several years working in the not-for-profit sector in the Pacific Northwest, where I further developed my skills and interest in counseling. Soon after, I had the opportunity to move to London, England. While in England, I obtained a certificate in Integrative Counseling and Psychotherapy from the Minster Centre, University of Middlesex.
As my interest in education and the mental health field grew, it wasn’t solidified until my eldest daughter began preschool. Upon entering preschool, she presented with diagnostic criteria for selective mutism and so began my path to School Psychology. During her time at preschool I recognized the difficulty school personnel had in understanding and managing her needs. They were unfamiliar with selective mutism and did not know what steps to take in order to address my daughter’s unique situation. As a parent, I witnessed the frustration the school staff had in interacting with my daughter. At that transformative moment, I appreciated the necessity of viewing a child as more than their label, considering the child from a holistic perspective and the importance of building positive family/school partnerships.
After extensive research, I recognized the School Psychology program at National Louis University would be the right fit for my educational interests. The program would provide me with the opportunity to learn from prominent educators in the field, while allowing for a "hands-on" approach during practica placements. Logistically, by offering evening classes, I was able to be present for my two young children during their school day!
What are you currently studying?
During the course of the program I received a M.Ed. in Educational Psychology. As a third-year student intern, I am currently working towards an Ed.S. in School Psychology. My internship is in CCSD 15 in Palatine, where I am in an elementary school two days per week and a junior high two days per week. In October, I will begin my 20-day high school rotation. As part of the internship experience, we take an internship supervision seminar that meets once a month. This allows for students to receive University supervision during our internship experience.
What do you like about your program:
Not only have I had the opportunity to learn from exceptional educational leaders in the field, but the nature of the program has allowed me to become involved with the NLU community. Since beginning at NLU, I have been able to participate in various leadership roles such as first-year representative in student governance, student delegate for our national and statewide School Psychology Organizations (NASP & ISPA), as well as the president of the NLU School Psychology Organization. The faculty in the School Psychology department also encourages and supports students to present research studies at the annual National Association of School Psychologist convention. This is a fantastic opportunity to have exposure and interaction with other leaders and researchers in the field. Additionally, because of the size of the cohort you are able to build lasting relationships with colleagues in the field.
Are you involved in any clubs or off-campus activities in your community:
Most recently I have been volunteering as a selective mutism treatment counselor with Advanced Therapeutic Solutions in Oak Brook. Through the utilization of evidence-based interventions, we have been able to assist children in generalizing communication skills to previously challenging environments.
How have you grown in your time here?
Since I have begun the program at NLU, I have deepened my understanding of school psychology and the positive impact that we can have on students, teachers and community. As leaders, we have the ability to work collaboratively with the school community to ensure positive outcomes for students. Our most important role is to advocate for the student, and as a result of my training I feel confident in my ability to continue to do so.
What do you hope to do after college and how is NLU preparing you for that?
I would like to continue to work in a diverse community, supporting the needs of students and families. Given my extensive coursework, practica placements and research interests, I believe NLU has appropriately prepared me to achieve my career goals.
What have you liked most about your experience at NLU so far?
The exposure to progressive, innovative thinkers; the ability to work collaboratively with students in my cohort; and the interesting practica placements have all been part of an excellent experience at NLU.
If you know of an NLU student at any level - bachelor's, master's, doctoral - who has an inspiring story to tell, nominate them for our monthly series by emailing Susan Barnett, Director of Communications, at email@example.com.