Jennifer Dixon, Union Catholic's Director of School Counseling, successfully defended her Doctoral dissertation recently to officially become Dr. Dixon.
Here is our Q and A with Dr. Dixon, who graduated in the first cohort at Kean University and earned a Ph.D. in Counseling and Supervision program.
What inspired you to pursue your doctorate and what does it mean to you to achieve such a huge goal?
I’ve always considered myself a lifelong learner. Once my children became more independent I felt called to take on a new challenge. I feel extremely grateful to have been able to expand my knowledge in the areas of counseling, supervision and social justice and to bring that directly into the work I do on a daily basis.
What was the topic of your dissertation and what made you choose that?
My dissertation topic focused on the self-care practice of yoga and the lived experiences of school counselors across the United States during the Covid-19 pandemic. I chose this topic because I personally find the practice of yoga to be a healthy mediator to stress and I was curious about its impact on others.
What kinds of things did you learn while working on your dissertation that you can apply to your own work in the upcoming school year and beyond?
I am so grateful to my cohort who I learned so much from. Our diversity provided a rich learning experience throughout the four years together. My dissertation taught me that as school counselors, while we each have unique experiences, we love our jobs, we feel a great deal of responsibility to perform our jobs well despite the challenges presented during the Covid-19 pandemic and we value the relationships we develop with our colleagues and students. School counselors who practice yoga report health benefits and that the mindfulness practices they learn in yoga help them to be calm, present and professional in their roles. My dissertation confirmed the importance Sister Percylee Hart (UC's Principal) has always placed on professional development. Additionally, I hope to share my research with colleagues and students to bring awareness of the impact of mindfulness practices.
What high school and colleges did you attend?
I attended Edison High School, and I attended Salisbury University for my undergraduate degree, Rowan University for my Masters degree, and attended the College of St. Elizabeth and Kean for post masters work, and finally Kean for my Ph.D.
What year did you begin working at Union Catholic, and what was your position when you first started?
I began Union Catholic in 2004 as the Student Assistance Counselor and Freshman Foundations Counselor.
When did you become the Director of School Counseling at UC?
I began as Director of School Counseling at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.
What do you enjoy the most about being the Director of School Counseling
There are so many things that I enjoy about this role. I love that each day is different. My background is in mental health counseling and I’ve always wanted to work with young people so working in a school provides the opportunity to help in that way while also helping students apply to college and plan for their futures. I have diverse responsibilities and I feel fortunate that I am constantly learning and growing. I am thankful to be able to work alongside and help students, families, faculty and staff with challenges and to celebrate successes. I enjoy mentoring interns and new counselors entering the counseling profession.