The month of May is significant for thousands of American Counseling Association members, as it will mark a milestone in their lives. I am referring, of course, to May being the month when many ACA student members complete their studies and graduate with their master’s or doctoral degrees. While this marks the completion of many long hours of work, it is in many ways the beginning of yet another important chapter in the lives of these individuals.
To those of you who are graduating this month (or next), I congratulate you for the dedication, commitment and compassion that you have demonstrated in obtaining your advanced degree. In addition to the ACA staff and myself, many others wish you well. For instance, I know that ACA President Patricia Arredondo has made the support of graduate students one of her primary focuses this year, and she certainly acknowledges your accomplishments. In addition, ACA President-Elect Marie Wakefield has said that she will be looking at the concept of legacy when she assumes office in July. Your matriculation is something that helps to reinforce that the counseling profession does indeed have a legacy.
And let’s not forget the more than 50 past presidents of ACA. I am sure they share in my congratulations not only for all that you have accomplished so far but, more importantly, for all you will be doing as you work with clients, help students, teach others, write books or conduct research. Many of you who are graduating this month will be taking the profession of counseling into the middle of the 21st century. Much rides on your shoulders if the profession is to thrive.
I also want to let you know that ACA welcomes you to the rank of professional member. However, we also realize that you may have a few college loans to pay back, so keep in mind that ACA does have a “new professional” category of membership. This will allow you to pay student dues while still enjoying the benefits of professional membership upon first graduating.
ACA will also strive to be there for you when you need resources such as professional publications, information packets, licensure information, answers to ethics questions, liability insurance and career services. Ultimately, you will judge whether membership in the largest organized body of professional counselors is something that makes sense for you.
I hope you will see value in continued membership in ACA. But if you have any questions about that decision, I encourage you to contact me and let me know about your concerns.
I understand that it is tough right out of graduate school. You will be looking for a job, perhaps relocating to a new city and simply trying to get on your feet so you can finally take the first steps in an incredible journey that you worked so hard to begin. However, I am confident that the products and services ACA is offering to you now (and new innovations that we’ll offer in the future) will prove valuable to you — valuable enough that you will want to continue your membership.
It may seem like a long way off, but I encourage you to mark next March on your calendar right now. That is when you will have the chance to attend your first ACA Annual Convention as a professional member. I hope you will find a way to join thousands of your colleagues as they gather in Detroit from March 21-25. You only need to look through this issue of Counseling Today and the coverage of the recent convention in Montréal to get a small taste of what the annual convention offers.
Let me close by once again congratulating the Class of 2006 as you all begin what I hope will be careers that are truly enriching, both professionally and personally. Your hard work has already paid off, so remember to take a few moments to bask in the glow of graduation, because you certainly deserve that.
As always, I hope you will pass along any comments, questions or suggestions that you might have. Please contact me either via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800.347.6647 ext. 231.
Thanks and be well.