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April 28, 2017
Sarah Saladen had heard the positive reviews of Northwest Missouri State University as she finished her associate degree at an Iowa college two years ago and considered the next step in her academic career.
She followed those recommendations, and completed bachelor’s degrees at Northwest this spring in psychology and emergency disaster management (EDM). This summer, she will begin pursuing her master’s degree in guidance and counseling at the University.
“It feels like I’ve been here forever, but I’ve only been here two years,” Saladen said. “I feel like I started here as a freshman. I transferred in as a junior, and I’ve gained friends, family, connections, a professional career base, and I’ve developed a lot of life skills that I never thought I would, especially through the emergency management program.”
While Saladen came to Northwest with the intention of focusing on psychology, she developed an interest in disaster psychology and decided to try coursework in the EDM program.
“I took one CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program and fell in love with the EDM program,” Saladen said, praising faculty members Dr. Mark Corson and John Carr for their mentoring and knowledge of the field.
In fact, Saladen felt the support of faculty and Northwest’s focus on student success quickly after arriving at Northwest.
“Right off the bat, most of them knew my name and took interest in me and took interest in my education and my future,” Saladen said. “That means the world to a student when you’re coming here from a strange place. It’s an empowering experience to have people that believe in you and want to get to know you and make sure you’re being successful outside of the classroom.”
Saladen embraced Northwest’s family atmosphere and worked to build meaningful connections. She loved attending Bearcat football games and participated in the Celebration of Quality academic symposium. She served as the public information officer for the EDM Club. Salden said she developed a level of confidence she didn’t have previously.
“It’s a great place to foster all of your abilities and develop yourself and just get a real sense of what a community is like,” she said. “This place gives you an opportunity to grow, not only academically, but as person because the people here are so involved with you and your education.”
In addition to her psychology studies, Saladen is close to completing her certification as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and says her training in the EDM program will help her remain calm in stressful situations. Through activities like the annual Missouri Hope disaster exercise, she learned communication tools, teamwork and leadership skills to use in any professional setting.
“I don’t like being caught not knowing what to do, and this allows me to be able to react in any situation,” Saladen said. “If you can handle being at Missouri Hope under as much stress as you are, I feel like that’s going to help me in the classroom. If I can handle dealing with medical operations and triaging people, I can handle a couple of kids coming into my office all at the same time with crises.”
Having struggled academically throughout grade school, there were times Saladen doubted whether she would make it in college. Yet, she’s earning her degrees from Northwest with honors and doesn’t take that lightly.
“There’s a lot of individuals around the world and around this country who don’t have the opportunity to go to college because they have to drop out to support their families, they need to go work, or circumstances beyond their control have not given them the opportunity to go to college, so I don’t take getting my college degree lightly at all,” Saladen said. “I think it’s super empowering and a privilege.”
Now, as she closes one chapter in her academic career and prepares to open another, Saladen says she is excited to be continuing her education at Northwest. She called her acceptance into the guidance and counseling graduate program at Northwest one of her proudest achievements.
“I’ve been planning for this for so long, and now I’m here at this spot and in only a few years I’m going to have this master’s degree, which I never thought I would have,” Saladen said. “I’m going to be a school counselor and make a difference in students’ lives, and that to me is mindboggling. It means everything.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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