Several years ago a friend of mine had just published a book of quotes. Since he knew that I was a collector of special sayings and quotes, he sent me a signed copy. After reading and re-reading the book, it became clear to me that only men had famous quotes or so it seemed. I called my friend David Cowan, the author of the book and queried him about why he had not included any women, except Eleanor Roosevelt, in his book. He said there weren’t many and challenged me to come up with one of my own.
That began a year-long effort of trying to create an original quote worthy of being published. After much frustration and soul searching, I came up with what I now believe is my mission in life. “Live your life like a lighthouse and be a beacon of hope to others.” That quote has stuck with me and has helped guide my life for the past 40 years. Have you thought about what your mission in life would be?
I have been inspired by many beacons. In 1969 with a brand new Masters in Counseling Diploma in hand, I drove from Wisconsin to Florida to start my career as an elementary school counselor. Since it was such a new field of counseling, there weren’t a lot of guides or recommendations about what I should do. However, it didn’t take long before I could see that I needed to have a mentor to assist me in my new journey. The director of Guidance for Collier County Schools, Dr. Cary Church, became my first of many mentors over the next several decades. Now as I look back over my career, I can name several people who helped me and have become what I call “My Board of Directors.”
As my professional career has evolved, I now find myself often in the role of assisting others. But I haven’t forgotten the incredible mentors who have given me the support and the tools that I needed to succeed. As you are reading this, I would encourage you to do some soul searching of your own. Think about who has mentored you and or who you are currently mentoring. It is an exercise worth doing and reflecting on as you think about where you are in your career and where you want to go in the future.
Becoming involved with NCDA has provided many wonderful opportunities for me including providing me with the chance to meet the giants in our field. It has also offered me the chance to actually work with many of them at the state, national and international levels. To meet the authors of our text books, creators of the theories, memorable speakers and workshop presenters are all a part of being members of NCDA. We are truly blessed with some of the best and brightest people in any profession.
My challenge to you is to begin by reflecting on all that you have received by being a member of this organization. Hopefully your involvement with NCDA has helped you be a better professional and enabled you to reach out to others as you too become a beacon of hope.
Pat Schwallie-Giddis, Ph.D., NCDA President 2009-2010, has been recognized as a champion of counseling and career development throughout the country. She has spoken to groups of professionals in almost every state in the U.S. as well as Germany and Russia. She is currently an Associate Professor and the Chair for the Department of Counseling/ Human and Organizational Studies at George Washington University. Dr. Pat formerly served as the Associate and Interim Executive Director of the American Counseling Association. Dr. Pat received her Ph.D. at Florida State University (FSU) in Counseling and Human Systems. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.