Janet Anselmo-Henson worked in criminal justice managing six different chemical dependency treatment programs. After 20 years in that field, she decided to go back to school and earn a master’s degree in community counseling from Argosy University. Anselmo-Henson is now a licensed professional counselor intern at a non-profit organization in the Dallas area. She shares her insight on returning to school.

(Photo Courtesy of Janet Anselmo-Henson)

(Photo Courtesy of Janet Anselmo-Henson)

Why did you pursue a master’s degree?

“After 20 years of working in the criminal justice field, I had risen to a level of management that afforded me a decent amount of money. However, the positions that I desired required an advanced degree. I was developing a clinical therapy program for adolescent females that had been victims of sexual trafficking. Although I would be able to create the program, I would not be able to manage it because it would require a master’s degree. After retirement, I wanted to do something different. At my current salary, I would not be able to find something unless I had a graduate degree. I began looking for a degree program that would meet my needs, provide a professional license and allow me to work full-time while pursuing the degree.”

What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree?

“Do it! Whether you are young and just beginning your career, or mature and thinking it might help you in your journey. It had been many years since I was in a college classroom, and much had changed. It was hard work, but I gained much from my program. I had great professors that were professionals in the field and they brought to the classroom [much] of their own experience.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master’s degree?

“The final portion of my degree required a practicum and an internship. These had to be done at a different place than where I worked. That meant that an additional 20 hours per week was added to my already busy schedule. I was a little overwhelmed. I don’t remember being at home that much, and many nights dinner was popcorn and ice tea.”

What was the biggest reward for earning the master’s degree?

“Aside from the insight and broadened scope I received, the accomplishment itself was incredible. I had a 4.0 GPA the entire time. I had to start the program on academic probation because my GPA my last year of my undergraduate degree was below a 2.9. I am thankful the school administrators took a chance and let me in the program. I was determined that I would prove to them and myself that I could learn, study and make excellent grades. The satisfaction I got from walking across the stage in my cap and gown was an incredible reward.”

Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com