If Michael Atkinson M’20 could go back in time and give himself some advice — prior to earning his M.A. in Counseling and Psychological Services — he’d tell himself to enroll at Saint Mary’s University sooner.

Atkinson graduated in December with a degree he said was critical to his career path within the mental health field. And, he added, he applies what he learned in his graduate courses every day while working as an in-clinic mental health therapist at Ellie Family Services.

Atkinson chose Saint Mary’s for multiple reasons, including a connection with a current student in the program. “Second, I found added comfort in the size of the program and campus; not too big, not too small,” he added. “Lastly, I was hugely impressed with the diversity of the student body and found a lot of value in exposure to such a wide range of perspectives and life experiences.

“I would tell a prospective student who was hesitant to begin a program that one of my first thoughts after earning my degree was, ‘Why didn’t I do this sooner?’ If that didn’t help, I would invite them to apply with the objective of taking just one or two classes the first semester to get a taste and find out for themselves if it’s for them,” Atkinson said.

He calls his experience at Saint Mary’s “multidimensional — a blend of intellectual pursuits and a personally transformational experience.”

“Looking back, it reminds me of the aphorism that states a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step; yet for me, each day required making that single step,” he said.

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