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My Guidance Counselor Discouraged Me but I Succeeded Anyway.

Guest Contributor


I like to think that I don’t have any regrets, and although that may be true, there are two things that often nag at me. But then I think, look at where I am at in my career; look at how happy I am to be in the career that I worked so hard to get.


I remember so clearly when I was a senior in high school, at an all girls Catholic/Private high school, college preparatory at that, when the guidance counselor who was also the Religion teacher completely discouraged me from applying to my dream school UCLA. She told me that my SAT scores were way too low and that I would not get accepted.


What a blow to my heart and my gut. I started feeling that I let my parents down. They sacrificed so much to send me to such a great high school and spent a lot of money on my tuition, and I wasn’t going to go to UCLA. And if my SAT scores were so bad, how would I get into any four-year college or university? But then I thought, well I don’t know what I want to major in, so why waste more of my parent’s money on a university if I had no clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.


I decided to go to a community college and figured let’s see what happens, let’s see what it has to offer me. But then that other thing that nags at me from time to time to this day, was the fact that I wouldn’t get the college dorm life experience. I put that aside and went for the community college route, and that is when my life changed.


As soon as I set foot into my first Psychology class, Psychology 101, it was then that I knew I wanted to major in Psychology. I took all the Psychology courses I could fit into my schedule. I couldn’t get enough of Psychology classes, some I liked more than others. Three years later I transferred to Cal State Northridge, and two in a half years after that, I graduated with my Bachelors with a double major.


There was no stopping me. I continued onto graduate school in the School Psychology program, then rolled into the Doctoral program. I now have my Master’s and my Doctorate and have been a School Psychologist for 10 years, and it has been the most rewarding career. Looking back, maybe that guidance counselor/ Religion teacher did me a favor. Whatever it was she did, I know that it put a fire in me to never stop!


Never let anyone tell you what you cannot do, or if they do, let that be the fire to ignite in you. With determination and perseverance, anything is possible. Of course, there will be bumps in the road, but that fire in you will only get brighter and hotter. I didn’t set out from high school the way I thought I would, and I didn’t get that dorm experience, but I can honestly say that things happened the way God planned them to be for me. I can now say I am a Latina woman that has many degrees and I am in the career of my dreams.


There still is no stopping me because I was recently offered a new position which can take me to even higher depths in my career. Which proves to show that even though I was discouraged all those years ago, I never let it bring me down or let it stop me from achieving my goals. I overcame my discouragement and way surpassed the expectations of that guidance counselor/religion teacher back in 1998. But were they ever really her expectations or mine? I didn’t realize the drive and the expectations I had for myself until I went to college. In actuality, that guidance counselor sparked that fire in me to never give up and to never stop, so I really should Thank her!!


Guest Contributor: Dr. Stephanie Zavala

Dr. Stephanie Zavala currently works at SELPA as a Psychological Service Specialist, in special education and mental health services. She attended Pasadena City College and received an AS then went on to receive her Bachelor’s from Cal State Northridge, received her Masters in School Psychology from Alliant International University. She continued to her Doctorate program in Educational Psychology (Psy.D) also from Alliant. 

She lives in Fullerton, CA and loves to go to the gym, workout, and read a good book, especially a good mystery/suspense book. You can follow her on Instagram @zpsychdoc.


Have you ever been discouraged by a teacher, guidance counselor, or mentor? How did you manage it? 

Author: Guest Contributor


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