Ph.D. Program, 2010 Alumna
When Toni Gines-Rivera began looking to earn her doctorate, she had never heard of a Ph.D. in Counseling Education & Supervision. Her brother suggested she look into Regent University. The program fit well with her background as a bilingual school psychologist.
Looking back, she says her experience at Regent was life-changing. Through four years of rigorous study and involvement with faculty and classmates, she was given amazing opportunities to grow.
While some may consider online programs to be impersonal and isolating, Toni never found that to be the case.
“A program like Regent University is a program where you're going to be involved,” she explains. “There are so many opportunities through Regent that, if you're willing to go there, you're going to be afforded the opportunities.”
When a professor asked her to go to Honduras to present her research she willingly agreed, though she had never traveled abroad. While there, she was invited to speak at a refuge for sexually abused girls. Having overcome a childhood of abuse and trauma herself, she was thrilled to speak to the young girls.
Little did she know that this impromptu speaking engagement would lead to one of her life's passions.
“Had I not visited that refuge, I would have never understood how that is a part of my ministry — to teach inner healing to women in pain from sexual abuse,” Toni says.
Since then she has established a website for women seeking healing from sexual trauma.
“There are so many women out there who have gone through a very bad situation,” she says. “I want to use what I have learned and how I have grown so others can grow.”
Because of her dissertation about counseling in Honduras, she has been asked to contribute to an upcoming book about international counseling. She has also been invited to assist an international organization, Orphan Helpers, with training counselors on sexual abuse and God's inner healing.
Toni says opportunities like these still catch her by surprise.
“I've literally been thrust into an international lifestyle — something I never imagined,” Toni says.
In her day job, she works with immigrant students in New York and educates teachers about how culture and background affect the ways students learn.
She is thankful that God brought her to Regent.
“I got more than a title here,” she says. “I received my vision for what's to be the rest of my life.”