Bowen Lader, a graduate student from Macon, Georgia, will earn his Master’s in Education in Mental Health Counseling in May 2022.
As Lader looks back on his time at WKU, he recalls the support received from faculty, staff, and his peers and the unique environment that allowed him to learn and grow.
“In my classes, the professors - who have had years of experience as counselors - have done more than assign readings and then lecture. I have had the opportunity to watch professors perform mock counseling sessions, followed by the chance to practice what we are learning with others in class, and then receive feedback to improve,” Lader said.
“It was intimidating at first to think about using the information and techniques in a counseling session but by the time I started practicum, I felt much more prepared and confident in my abilities. As my classes and supervision have continued through internships, I believe I have the knowledge I need to begin the process of a successful career after I graduate.”
Lader worried that starting graduate school in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic would make it difficult to connect with his fellow students, but those fears were quickly cast aside. “Without a doubt, the best part of my experience here at WKU was getting to know my cohort. Even though COVID made it difficult at times, we found a way to get to know each other and support each other during our time here. We have been able to help each other through difficult times and be reminded that counseling is what we want to do and that we have ability to do it. I have no doubt that the friendships I have formed in my cohort will be impactful for years to come.”
The Department of Counseling and Student Affairs houses the Talley Family Counseling Center, which provides internship opportunities for Hilltoppers and free mental health services for the community. Lader says during his three semesters as an intern, he has “had the opportunity to work with people of all ages, genders, races, and walks of life. Whether the client is struggling with depression, anxiety, school/career stress, or a number of other issues, I have been able to apply and build on what I have been learning in every session with my clients to improve their daily lives.”
After graduation, Lader hopes to work in counseling in a private practice setting, so he can continue to work with a “diverse population and wide variety of presenting concerns.” He credits his own experiences in counseling as leading him to this point in his life. “I am preparing to graduate with my master’s degree in a career designed to help people. I have formed solid friendships and reached a level of self-growth I did not think I was capable of, all due to counseling.”
Lader offers words of wisdom to others that wish to follow in his footsteps on the Hill. “Have confidence in yourself! If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, there are people in the WKU community that can help you. Building a support system with your friends, family, and professors is a great way to help you achieve your full potential.”
For more information on the MAE in Mental Health Counseling and the Department of Counseling and Student affairs, please visit wku.edu/csa.
To learn more about the Talley Family Counseling Center, go to wku.edu/talleycounseling.