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Patrice Carhart Achieves Dream With Online Master’s Degree

Lamar University online graduate Patrice Carhart and her son, Bailey

Patrice and her son Bailey both graduated in May 2015

Long before Patrice Carhart went from teaching to counseling, she practiced what she intended to preach by making the best of a tough situation.

“I went through something sad in my own life, and I thought, ‘You know what? This is going to make me feel better,’” Carhart said. “Life happened. I felt like picking myself back up by following my dream of becoming a school counselor.”

Carhart graduated with a Master of Education in School Counseling degree that she earned through Lamar University’s online program. As an added bonus, her only child, Bailey, graduated from Clear Creek High School the same month.

“It was a great example for my son to see me pursue my master’s and my dream,” said Carhart, a single mother. “It was so special graduating together in May 2015.”

Two of her former coworkers also encouraged Carhart in her interest in school counseling.

“I’ve always loved helping people,” she said. “As a classroom teacher, I always found myself making special connections with my students. My principal [Jane Kelling] and the counselor [Anita Oliphant] had faith in me. They knew I loved working with special kids that needed a little extra TLC in my class. They both really motivated me.”

Carhart said she knew she wanted to move into counseling five years into her 20-year teaching career.

“In the back of my mind, it had always intrigued me and interested me,” she said. “I just never made the time to do it, so I decided to do something positive for myself.”

Carhart landed her first counseling job at Lobit Middle School in Dickinson, Texas, one year after graduating with her master’s degree.

“I love my new profession,” she said. “There are different needs at my new campus, but the courses offered at Lamar University prepared me to be an effective counselor.”

The Right Choice

Patrice Carhart earned her M.Ed. in School Counseling online from Lamar University

Oliphant suggested Lamar University’s online M.Ed. in School Counseling program to Carhart.

“She did not attend Lamar University, but she had friends who had gone through the program and recommended it to me because she knew I was on a budget,” Carhart said. “It was also appealing to me because it was 100 percent online, affordable, and [Lamar University’s College of Education] is CAEP [Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation]-accredited. I think it really did help me get my current job.”

Carhart said the online format was essential to help her maintain her work schedule and have time to watch Bailey play football and baseball for Clear Creek.

“It was so perfect for me,” she said. “I chose an online program because of how convenient it was for me, especially being a single mom and having a high school-aged kid. I could work around my schedule with my studies. It just made it so much easier. I could arrange my assignments and my study time around my work schedule and my son’s extracurricular schedule. When I started the program, he was a junior in high school. He had just started driving, so he could get himself to and from school and practice which really helped.”

Carhart said she developed a weekly routine for her schoolwork.

“The courses are laid out perfectly with all of the assignments given in advance, so there are really no surprises,” she said. “I would divide my week into sections to make sure I met all of the guidelines and when things were due, which made my life so much easier.

“It was easily done working around my busy schedule and my son’s schedule. I would read the first two nights, do the discussion board the next two nights, and then get my weekly assignment done. It became very much like a habit. Before I knew it, the class was done! I loved it.”

Well-Prepared for Counseling

Carhart said the curriculum thoroughly helped her prepare for the intricacies of school counseling.

“I remember being really interested in [the course on] Crisis Prevention & Intervention [CNDV 5352],” she said. “I feel like it prepared me to help children in crisis, and helped me prepare students to get back into their normal routines after something traumatic happens to them.

“That, to me, was always a little scary before graduation, thinking about, ‘Oh my goodness, what happens when a kid goes through something traumatic in their life? And how am I going to react to that?’ That class really helped with that fear.”

Carhart, who grew up in Baytown, Texas and earned a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Education with a specialization in psychology from the University of Houston in 1994, had to apply that knowledge sooner than expected.

“Unfortunately, we have had three dads pass away this school year,” she said. “The crisis prevention and intervention course provided me with the knowledge to effectively address the needs of the students during this difficult time.”

Carhart said she also enjoyed Group Counseling Theories & Techniques [CNDV 5312].

“That course helped me prepare for the practicum portion of the degree,” she said. “I learned techniques for small group counseling. I am now able to use those techniques with students today.”

Once she finished the online program for the Master of Education in School Counseling degree, Carhart got to experience the joy of graduation day in Beaumont.

“My parents and grandparents were thrilled,” she said. “They were so proud to see me finally fulfill my dream. My family and friends came to graduation, even my grandparents, who are in their 90s. I had quite a fan club there.”

Learn more about the Lamar University online M.Ed. in School Counseling program.

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