As a successful attorney in the San Francisco area, Steve Kassirer unexpectedly found himself in the middle of a life-defining medical and emotional crisis. During this inward struggle, Steve’s life was touched by a mental health counselor who helped him see that his life was far from over. Inspired by how his counselor had helped him to change his own life, he made it his mission to touch the lives of others and began pursuing his degree in counselor education at The College at Brockport.
Attracted by the proximity, quality and affordability of Brockport, Steve jumped in to his studies. The process of experiential learning in the Department of Counselor Education offered Steve a chance to really get to know himself. Being genuine, being in the "here and now," and having unconditional positive regard are some of the most important aspects of being an effective counselor. "During the counselor education process, you have to learn to acknowledge your short comings and ask yourself, ‘How can I grow from this?’" said Steve.
Steve had attended several other higher education institutions in pursuit of his law degree, but his experience at The College at Brockport surpassed them all. The professors at Brockport are professional, scholarly, yet down to earth and genuine. Dr. Bob Dobmeier was a mentor to Steve. He helped hone Steve’s writing and presenting skills and invited him to present at the American Counseling Association National Conference in San Francisco. Together, Steve, Dr. Dobmeier, Dr. Tom Hernandez and a few other students completed a study of impact on scope of practice on Licensed Mental Health Counselors in New York State. They surveyed mental health counselors and agency directors in Western New York. Their findings were presented to the prestigious Journal of Mental Health Counseling and will be published in October 2013.
Dr. Summer Reiner was another inspiration while Steve was pursuing his master’s. He said she always shows "unconditional positive regard," a term often reinforced among budding counselors. "She is warm, compassionate and has an incredible sense of humor," said Steve. "She is honest about herself and her own professional challenges, which can make the process less intimidating." Dr. Reiner teaches integration, the process of going from the academic setting to real-world clients. She offered tremendous support and encouraged Steve to become a counselor educator. She also invited Steve to become a keynote speaker at the North Atlantic Regional Association for Counselor Educators and Supervisors Conference. Steve believes this presentation networked him to other professionals and led to his acceptance as a doctoral candidate at Syracuse University.
"Having an affordable graduate school at a high-quality liberal arts college, with close proximity to the City of Rochester, worked well for me as a non-traditional student," said Steve. "The genuine care and compassion of the faculty are incredible."