'Counseling is a natural expression of who I am'
Friday, June 20, 2014
Ruth Johnson Ezeonwuka transferred to John Brown University in 2008, earning a bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Services before enrolling in JBU’s Graduate Counseling program. She and her husband, Amaelo, graduated from JBU in May 2014 with Master of Science degrees in community counseling. They now live in Oregon, where they’re applying for counseling positions.
Q. Why did you decide to become a counselor?
A.It’s a natural expression of who I am. I like listening to people and being there for them and helping them through life. Every area I’ve counseled in so far, I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve worked with mental health patients, and that was gratifying. Working with adolescents who are struggling with identity or behavior issues, or doing marriage counseling – I just like helping people achieve their goals.
Q. What made you choose JBU?
A. I lived in a small town – Cottage Grove, Oregon – and I knew I wanted to get a really great counseling education, so I Googled, “Top Christian counseling agencies.” I was going to contact the agencies that do Christian counseling throughout America, to ask them, “What type of counselors do you want to hire?” and “What schools do you hire from?” I expected to hear Wheaton and Denver, and places like that, or maybe Biola in California. But the first Christian counseling agency that came up in my Google search was the CHR [JBU’s Center for Healthy Relationships].
Since the CHR is connected to JBU, when I started talking to them about their work, they started talking about JBU, and that they have a program at JBU specifically for counselors. I liked the idea of a Christian counseling agency working directly with a university.
I looked into JBU, and I toured a couple of other universities across the country. I was looking for where I wanted to get my master’s while I was doing my undergrad. I liked all of the other schools I visited, but I just had a peace about JBU. There was something about JBU that made me feel comfortable.
Q. What advice would you give to someone considering counseling as a career?
A. I think you have to ask yourself the following questions: How do I get energy? Do I feel blessed and refreshed by talking to people and getting to know them? Do I feel myself having natural connections with people, and have empathy and compassion for them? Do I have a desire to walk through life with people?
If this is what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, you want to make sure that it connects with who you are. Do you feel like it’s a natural expression of who you are?
Q. Why did you choose a Christian university for your degree?
A. JBU connected with who I am as a person and as a believer in Christ. I think that nonbelievers can go to Christian universities and get their master’s degrees, but for me, that’s a tool that I wanted to have, to let the Holy Spirit use me to connect my faith to my work.
JBU does a great job of not just setting you up to work with believers, but to work with people in general, and they teach you those core principles and concepts. JBU really prepares you to help people who are extremely different than you by talking about boundaries and differentiation.
I chose JBU because it’s not just about how to do biblical counseling; it’s how to be who you are and be a counselor to anyone. That was important for me, that JBU doesn’t just teach you how to do counseling from a biblical perspective, but teaches you how to use your faith to help anyone, regardless of what they believe.
Q. Did you have any faculty who stood out to you?
A. Justin Phillips was amazing, and of course, Dr. Carmack is awesome. Dr. Lampton is also really good. Dr. Romig is great; he really pushes you to think outside of your box constantly. Those four professors really stood out. They are the ones that challenged me and pushed me the most.