A call for help transformed Kelly Clemente’s ’17 (School of Psychology & Counseling) career ambitions. She had always wanted to work in public relations and marketing, and saw herself working in a business setting. She had completed three internships and was well on her way to starting her career when she was approached by a woman who needed a mentor for an at-risk middle school youth. She agreed to help, and what started as a resume booster became a heartfelt calling and passion.
“God was preparing me to work with children, but I was denying it,” said Clemente. “Everything just fell into place after I gave my life to God. I had to change a lot of things. It wasn’t a walk in the park, but in terms of my career, God really opened my eyes to what he had been setting up my whole life.”
After this experience, Clemente says she still pursued marketing, but the only internship she received was with a company that helps high school students prepare for college. She maintained the company’s website, promoted their business, and continued to pursue marketing opportunities for two years after graduating from college. But when she rededicated her life to Christ, Clemente says God directed her to Regent University where she would study counseling with the purpose of becoming a school counselor.
“My professors have become some of my greatest friends,” said Clemente. “They have been a great encouragement and have been my greatest advocates. They are open and willing to take time out of their busy lives to sit with me as a human being, not just a student. They don’t want you to survive the program. They want you to thrive and learn more about yourself. The program is about finding out who you are, how God sees you, and how you can take His power inside of you and change the world.”
Clemente completed her classes and is on her way to two internships, one in a high school and another at an elementary school. She’ll be the right-hand person for a school counselor, where she will work with 10 students. The job requires paperwork, planning and scheduling, but she is looking forward to the opportunity to speak with kids, help them process their problems, and provide encouragement. Clemente sees her future role as a school counselor not just inspiring kids on an individual level, but encouraging them to love one another and transform their schools as a whole. She sees this as the answer to the growing problem of bullying in schools.
“If you say not to bully over and over, they’re always hearing the word, so it’s in their mind, and they’re more likely to do it,” said Clemente. “I think they’re doing a fantastic job with phasing out the language in schools right now. It’s called positive behavioral psychology and makes a positive environment for kids.”
She thrived in Regent’s counseling program by making the most of every opportunity to serve outside of the classroom. She plans events for the Association of Christian Counselors, assists an in-home therapist who works with a child with special needs, and is a substitute teacher with Virginia Beach City Public Schools. She highly recommends substitute teaching for anyone considering a career as a school counselor.
“I think it’s very good to learn the teacher side of things,” said Clemente. “It’s easy as a school counselor to get wrapped up in what you’re doing that you forget what the teachers are doing. Sometimes a rivalry develops between the two. That’s why I think it’s important to know both sides of it. When you see how much the teachers have to do, you have more compassion for them. You really see their perspective. We’re all on the same team. Your first priority needs to be the child.”
Clemente will take this perspective with her as she seeks to become a school counselor after graduation. She believes counseling shows children that they have an advocate, and her ultimate goal is to empower students to grow psychologically, emotionally and academically. She is also passionate about pro-life issues and could see herself counseling first-time mothers. Just like the Lord led her to a completely new calling, she says she’s open to follow Him where He puts her as a counselor.