ATLANTA—For undergraduate Lucy Johnson (B.S.W. ‘21), her final semester at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies means she’s one step closer to a dream she conceived years ago after an unexpected loss.
Johnson hopes to open a counseling practice that provides free or low-cost services to those with financial barriers to mental health care. The loss that inspired her idea: the abrupt ending of a counseling relationship when she was fifteen.
“Most people struggle with their mental health at some point in high school,” she said. “So, when I did, I started seeing this amazing counselor. I still think about her to this day.”
Johnson and her counselor formed a strong therapeutic bond that ended unexpectedly after the cost of her therapy sessions increased.
“Suddenly, my family couldn’t afford it,” Johnson said.
She took it hard at the time, but the loss ended up sparking the passion that drives her career goals today.
“It triggered something in me,” she said. “I couldn’t believe people had to experience this. And oftentimes the people who can’t afford counseling are those who need it the most. I’ve wanted to be a counselor to address these issues ever since.”
As she neared the end of high school, Johnson sought advice from social workers already in the field and learned that social work would be an excellent foundation for a career in counseling.
An Athens, Ga., native, she chose Georgia State to experience the excitement of the big city. She started her degree in the Summer of 2018 and completed the program in less than three years.
“I was trying to get through school as fast as I could,” she said. “Not because I don’t enjoy it, but I want to move towards the career goals I’ve always pictured.”
Between dual enrollment credits and summer classes, Johnson is graduating a semester early with plans for the next phase of her education already in place: earning a master’s degree in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of South Carolina, starting this fall.
“At my interview, the faculty told me they’re really excited about what I want to do with my career,” she said. “I’m not sure what exactly it will look like. Maybe it’ll be a nonprofit organization or a sliding scale practice. I just want to make sure no one else has to experience what I did when I was younger.”
Story By Sumar Deen