There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. For Janna Soileau, this proved to be true.
She sought counseling when she was going through personal issues two years ago. The help she received with her crisis sparked her interest in mental health as a career option.
"I decided about two years ago that I wanted to go back to school to study counseling," said Soileau, who works as a contract respiratory therapist at the Louisiana Special Education Center. "I got a lot from my counselor, and I was like, 'I think this is something that I might want to do.'"
The desire to reinvent her career drove Soileau to enroll in the online Bachelor of Science in Psychology program offered by Louisiana State University of Alexandria (LSUA) in May 2017.
"I met with one of the ladies from LSUA and I really liked her. She was very nice and very helpful, and she got me started, and everything's been running smoothly since."
Honor Student in the Making
Not only has Soileau enjoyed a seamless experience with the online degree program, she has also met all the requirements for induction into Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology.
To become a member, students must earn a cumulative grade point average (GPA) in the top 35 percent of their class and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher in their psychology courses. Soileau had to hit the books hard to qualify for membership.
"It required a good bit of time in the afternoons and just studying and doing the best I could on my papers. And that's what I did."
Soileau enjoyed putting in the extra effort because the psychology courses were her favorite part of the curriculum. She specifically recalls one class assignment, a life project that left quite an impression.
"That was a neat project because it made you look back at your life and different events that happened, and it made you look at attachment styles and why you were the way you were and how you've changed, if you've changed, and what caused it," Soileau said. "I liked that project a lot."
Ease of Online
Soileau said one of the perks of going to school online is the schedule flexibility.
With an early morning to mid-afternoon work schedule, Soileau has the time she needs to do her coursework in the evening and weekends. She is so dedicated to her online studies that she sometimes takes her personal laptop to work to fit in study time during her lunch breaks.
"The online program is easy because you go at your own pace, and so you're able to work and have a home life and go to school," said Soileau. "It's been a good experience all the way around for me."
Another perk, Soileau explained, is the ease of communication and virtual collaboration.
"If you need your professors, you email them, or there's an online chat room, and you can chat with them or you can chat with your other classmates."
Soileau earned her associate of science in respiratory care from LSU Eunice in 2001. She has since worked as a respiratory therapist, but she is now ready to switch gears for a career in mental health.
"That's going to be a big change. But I've been doing respiratory care for a long time, and it's time to do something new.
"It's definitely going to be different. Right now I'm in healthcare working with people who are sick ... it will be different because I'm going to be helping people mentally instead of physically."
This is the change Soileau said she needs. It also helps that her pursuit of higher education is teaching her daughters, Madison (16) and Bethany (11), the benefits of doing well in school.
"For my kids to see that I'm not only going back to school, at 38, but also that I'm doing well, and they see me applying myself, and they see the benefits of making good grades," Soileau said. "That's showing them they can do it too."
Learn more about LSUA's online Bachelor of Science in Psychology program.
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