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Student Experience

Opening Doors for Others

With a servant’s heart, Becky Buchanan has always desired to help people. As a supervisor of unemployment claims, Buchanan was doing so, but had limited interaction with individuals and the work felt unrewarding.

“My previous work involved supervising unemployment claims, and I did not work with unemployed people on an individual, meaningful basis. I was ready for a change to directly impact individuals in positive ways,” Buchanan said.

It was then that she decided to pursue a new goal: to work for Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation. A position at Nebraska VR would require a master’s degree, so graduate school was the next step.

“Nebraska VR has a fantastic reputation and I wanted to work there prior to pursuing my master’s degree,” Buchanan said. “I found out about Emporia State via the internet. The RC48 program seemed very doable and integrated well with my employment. The RC48 program allowed graduates to receive a master’s degree as well as the certified rehabilitation counselor credential… I felt that ESU’s RC48 was a path to realize this goal.”

The master of science degree in rehabilitation counseling is unique as it is the only counseling program at Emporia State that can be completed online, which worked well for Buchanan.

“My graduate experience was very supportive and stimulating. When I reached out to instructors, especially my advisor, they were all very responsive. I found the William Allen White Library very accessible online. I enjoyed the access to all the peer-reviewed articles. My practicum/internship was at Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation, which eventually led to a permanent job,” said Buchanan.

In a record-breaking year and a half, Buchanan graduated with her degree.

“Normally, it takes two and a half years. I committed myself to studying every Saturday and Sunday. Also, I was really interested in the material, so reading was not very difficult on weeknights. My adviser, Dr. Damara Paris, was very flexible and helped me designed my course schedule to efficiently meet my goal,” she said of the program that had all the components she was looking for.

“I took some classes that were held over Zoom, so had face-to-face opportunities with other students and teachers. I am a pretty quick writer, so the assignments were compatible with my skills and interests. The Canvas system is very easy to organize priorities and due dates. As a working professional, I really appreciated the technological reminders.”

The quick turnaround on her degree was instantly gratifying, leading her directly into her dream position — one that not only helped her improve her life, but one that is exponentially helping others.

“Now that I work at Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation, I have the honor of helping people find meaningful employment while witnessing the results,” she said. “It is fantastic to see a VR client go from unskilled $10 per hour jobs to a stable career paying $20 per hour. Work is a major part of a person’s identity, and I feel my efforts make a significant difference in a person’s quality of life.”

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