Psychology student takes the JUMP by beginning master's junior year
- Author: Lauren Weitlauf
- Author: Tuesday, February 11th, 2020
WKU junior Brooke Zarotny from La Grange, Kentucky first arrived on Western Kentucky University’s campus during a field trip in 2016 and quite literally, never looked back.
“I loved how quaint Bowling Green was and all the wonderful features it had to offer. I was so excited as to how WKU was large enough to always be exciting and offer new experiences while also providing a kind and loving community,” Zarotny said. “In less than a day, I knew WKU was my dream school.”
Then, in the fall of 2017, Zarotny joined WKU’s freshman class.
Zarotny declared psychology as her major; however, it was not until a meeting with her undergraduate advisor, Assistant Professor Dr. Sarah Ochs, that she truly understood how far her educational interests could take her.
“We were discussing what I’d like to do with my degree, and I told her that I wanted to be a therapist,” Zarotny said. “[Ochs] told me about the Counseling Masters that would certify me to do exactly that… then she shared even better news about [the] Counseling [program] also having a JUMP program for Clinical Mental Health.”
JUMP stands for Joint Undergraduate-Master’s Programs and affords WKU students the ability to pursue a graduate degree while completing an undergraduate education, all within five years. Within the Counseling MAE, students can select two areas of concentration: Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling or Clinical Mental Health Counseling. “I was astounded by how amazing the program sounded, and how I could be involved while still finishing my undergraduate degree for the price of undergraduate classes,” Zarotny said.
Since joining the JUMP program for Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Zarotny feels right at home with her peers and mentions she would recommend the program “over and over again” to those who may be interested in the mental health field.
Zarotny will graduate in 2022, but she already has her sights set on career readiness and aspires to become a licensed Professional Clinical Counselor to children and adolescents. Until then, she has a couple of years to bank the knowledge and hands-on experiences WKU offers to ensure student preparedness in the workforce. “I’m most excited to learn how to bridge the gap between the knowledge I gained as a psychology major and being a counselor - I can’t wait to learn how to use this information in therapy sessions to teach others how to keep themselves mentally healthy,” Zarotny said.
Recently, with the help of her beloved mentor and counselor, Ochs, Zarotny successfully completed and submitted her honors thesis to the National Association of School Psychology convention where she will soon present her findings.
When she is not leading a women’s small group with the WKU’s Christian Student Fellowship, she is playing tennis and continuing her introspectiveness practice during activities such as backpacking, canoeing and hiking. She is also preparing for her younger sister to graduate high school this spring. Luckily, Zarotny’s sibling did not experience the dilemma her older sister went through in her college decision. Since hearing about Zarotny’s incomparable experiences at WKU, her sister knew she only wanted to submit a college application to one institution. She will join Zarotny on The Hill this fall as a member of the 2024 graduating class.
WKU’s Joint Undergraduate Master’s Programs (JUMP) in Counseling offers affordability and accessibility to students. To apply to either Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling or Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs, undergraduate students must be in good standing (GPA of 2.75 or above). Both programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.
For more information, please visit https://www.wku.edu/csa/counseling/jump-in-counseling.php or contact Department Head Jill Sauerheber at firstname.lastname@example.org. The JUMP application deadline for fall admission is March 1.