Following 13 years as a school counselor with Jersey City Public Schools, Sweety Patel is now in her fourth year as the Director of School Counseling Services for Carteret Public Schools in New Jersey.
In her current role, Patel, who earned her master’s degree in school counseling from UNC Greensboro’s Department of Counseling and Educational Development (CED) in 2006, develops special projects and initiatives for students and works to assist in the growth of her counseling staff, a profession that has seen an increased need and importance as the stigma around mental health needs has changed in recent years.
“I am hoping that I can enhance the field of education through my school counseling advocacy work,” said Patel. “I know from my own experience, and all of my experiences through work-study jobs, practicums, and internships, and my 13 years of counseling work, that educators need passion to be able to motivate and inspire their students. I hope my legacy will be that I led students, as well as other school counselors, to the pinnacle of their motivation so they, in turn, could positively influence the communities around them.”
She has gone on to continue her education and obtain supervisory, principal, and director certifications, allowing her to better lead school counselors. Since being published, Patel has been invited to various colleges and universities to participate in panels.
One of those speaking opportunities arose because of Patel’s time at UNCG. She says, “I think some of my best memories were building relationships with my cohort who I still stay in touch with, especially through social media, as well as my internship experience at Washington Elementary School. I still stay in touch with my internship supervisor in Greensboro and even collaborate with her on certain projects. Last year, I was a guest speaker for one of her small groups for young girls.”
Patel says that at UNCG she “was able to really understand counseling and myself through the CED program. This, in turn, helped me become a better school counselor and service my students better.”
She encourages those entering the CED program at UNCG to be open-minded, take in the experiences the program has to offer, and maybe even step outside of their comfort zone.
“Another experience I loved was that the CED program recommended I see a counselor myself. I had never done that before. Once I went through the experience, I realized how much I needed it, how much it removed preconceptions and taboos when it comes to going to see a counselor, and also how it made me a better counseling professional,” Patel stated.
“UNCG was one of the best beginnings that a counseling professional and educator could ever ask for,” said Patel. “With my UNCG degree, I have been able to become amazing and have influence on others so they can also become amazing. Without the interactive and challenging work that was placed on me at UNCG, always with supports of course, I would not have emerged as a strong counselor and grown into a strong counselor leader.”