Avila Now

April 28, 2022

Q&A: Penny Howard, MSCP ’21

Alumnae Penny Howard
penny howard.

Penny Howard graduated from Avila University with her Master of Science in Counseling Psychology in 2021.

“As an older student with a family, I considered several schools in the Kansas City area––and for me, Avila was the clear winner by far”

Penny Howard, MSCP ’21

Howard is now provisionally licensed to provide psychotherapy in Kansas and plans to work in group private practice with individuals and couples. “Avila challenged and prepared me to do this work in a sound, ethical, and soulful manner,” said Howard.

Why Avila? There are a lot of places to get your degree, why here?

I was greeted with real warmth here, and everyone seemed so interested and responsive from the start. This was in stark contrast to other local universities. Before choosing Avila, a psychology faculty member sent me a long email in response to a question about the MSCP program. Her note expressed authentic interest and her answers were utterly graceful and welcoming. I thought, now THIS is where I want to learn and grow. It wasn’t just a place, it was a feeling.

What makes Avila special/unique/inspiring to you?

I was lucky enough to serve as a faculty/graduate student liaison and was privileged to peek behind the curtain and have a fuller understanding of what made the psychology department tick. So much heart and hard work go into Avila’s psych programs. Over and over again, I saw how much the faculty cared about student well-being. I was so impressed.

What was your favorite part about the Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology program at Avila?

I can’t pick just one! I loved my internship. I loved having strong role models. I loved stretching beyond my comfort zone (hello statistics and neurobiology!). I loved learning about this amazing profession. I loved being shaped, strengthened, and humbled by the program as a whole.

Were there any particular instances where a faculty member mentored you?

Yes, absolutely. I experienced a very difficult final year in the program when I lost both of my parents within a few weeks. It was a small miracle that I managed to stay in school, honestly. My ability to do so was thanks, in part to the stellar support, guidance, care, and mentorship of faculty members. They offered not only an empathic presence but taught me how to navigate a counselor’s unique responsibility to practice self-care and monitor personal well-being and limitations before caring for clients. It was a terrible time, but I will always benefit as a human and as a therapist from being in the hands of these instructors during this point in my life and training.

Anything else you would like to share?

It was a privilege to earn my degree from Avila. I hope to use that gift to add a little good to the world.

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