Therapist Erica Hunt Credits NYSCAS for Setting Her Up for Career Success
Touro's Personalized Attention, Flexibility, and Support Enabled Hunt to Fulfill Her Dream of Helping People in Need
Erica Hunt, a ‘19 Touro University New York School of Career and Applied Studies (NYSCAS) alum, was the first person in her family to pursue her bachelor’s degree. As she navigated uncharted territory, she continued to push forward because she knew that earning her degree would enable her to have a professional career. Today, Hunt is proud to be a therapist who is making a positive impact on the lives of her clients through her work at one of New York City’s oldest and largest child welfare agencies, New York Foundling.
What led you to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Touro NYSCAS?
I was working as a preschool teacher at a private school, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue working there and started searching for another opportunity. My supervisor at the time was a Touro Graduate School of Education alum who encouraged me to look at what NYSCAS had to offer. After a NYSCAS recruiter visited my job and shared more about some of the different programs, I went to an open house to get a better sense of what would be required as a student. As soon as I arrived, I immediately felt this sense of belonging. I decided to enroll and major in psychology since I’m passionate about helping people in need.
How did NYSCAS faculty and staff help you succeed throughout your educational journey?
The opportunity to receive different types of support ranging from tutoring and counseling to career advisement was invaluable to me. My mother, many of my family members, and even some of my friends didn’t finish high school let alone enroll in college, so I couldn’t ask any of them for advice when I was unsure of what my next steps should be. The people from Touro were consistently in my corner, like my advisor who was willing to answer any question I had and for that, I am forever grateful. One huge advantage of attending NYSCAS is that every student gets one-on-one attention. I never felt overlooked, no matter the class size. All my professors had an open-door policy and were extremely responsive when additional help was required. It was also great to have access to professors who are still actively working in the psychology field as they shared real-world stories that added a different perspective to the coursework. One of my professors would even routinely incorporate the topics that I was most interested in into his lectures, which showed me he was invested in keeping me fully engaged and seeing me succeed as a student.
Additionally, my classmates were an essential part of my support network. I felt comfortable talking with them about things going on in both my professional and personal life. I don’t think that I would be where I am today without that support.
How did you balance working full-time while also being a student?
The flexibility that Touro provided was key to my success. I was already a full-time teacher and had a part-time job as a tutor when I first started at NYSCAS, so it was vital that my schedule enabled me to complete my assignments while also juggling my other work-related responsibilities. Because NYSCAS has campuses at multiple locations and I was working in Manhattan while living in Brooklyn, I had the ability to study at the nearest location to me at the time as well, which eliminated the need to spend time commuting between boroughs.
Why did you decide to enroll in a master’s program after graduation?
Right after receiving my bachelor’s degree, I thought I was done being a student as nothing in my upbringing had prepared me for graduate school and I wasn’t even aware of the value of such a degree... I was already working at New York Foundling, a place I first learned about at a career fair hosted by NYSCAS. My supervisor told me that to be considered for a promotion, I first needed to get a master’s degree. However, because I was working with mental health patients and needed to be on call in case of emergencies regularly, I couldn’t attend classes in person. When one of my former classmates mentioned that Touro University Worldwide offers online degrees, I asked my advisor at NYSCAS about this amazing opportunity and together, we looked at the various programs offered. I knew immediately that it was the right choice to enroll in the school’s master’s program in psychology. I firmly believe that regardless of where you come from, Touro has the perfect path for you, and it has greatly benefitted me.
You’ll be starting a new role in the same organization –can you share what your responsibilities will be?
I’ll soon be starting a new position as a Multisystemic Therapist at the same organization, where I’ll work with adolescents who are coming out of the juvenile detention system to help them get their lives back on track. I will connect them to key resources including educational and community-based programs, so they have a better chance of staying out of jail. Previously, I worked to connect low-income families to key services including Health Homes, a program created to coordinate care for people with Medicaid who have chronic conditions, but now I’m looking forward to working with individuals one-on-one. My dream career is to be a Licensed Mental Health Counselor or social worker so I can work with individuals one-on-one. Making decisions for the future can be overwhelming at first, but I’ve learned that when I’m determined to reach a goal, anything is possible.