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Jessica Riddell ’23MED: ‘Every Instructor I Had or Worked With Played a Part in My Success, Where I Am Right Now and Where I’m Heading as a Professional’

Jessica Riddell
Jessica Riddell, left, at Pack-a-Palooza

As an undergraduate student, Jessica Riddell ’23MED wasn’t sure if they should pursue a graduate degree related to counseling or higher education. When they discovered the Master of Education in College Counseling and Student Development at the College of Education, Riddell realized it was an opportunity to combine both of their passions.

After graduation this May, Riddell plans to continue their journey as a first-generation graduate student in the College of Education to earn a doctoral degree.

Learn more about Jessica Riddell: 

Hometown: Fayetteville, North Carolina

Program: M.Ed. in College Counseling and Student Development

Activities (Research or Extracurricular): Chi Sigma Iota- Nu Sigma Chi chapter, First-Generation Graduate Student Organization at NC State

Why did you choose the NC State College of Education?

I started off in another program within the College of Education, and I chose that program because I heard a lot of good things about NC State and the College of Education. I switched to college counseling and student development after talking with my former advisor, because the program was a better match for my career ambitions and goals. I had never heard of anything like the program and always associated counseling with clinical counseling. In undergrad, I was tied between counseling and higher education for a graduate program and career path and the M.Ed. in College Counseling and Student Development gives me both.

Why did you choose your field of study?

I’m passionate about helping students from all backgrounds navigate and cope with the challenges and stressors that pursuing a college degree can bring. As a first-generation college and graduate student, I also have a deep passion for working with first-generation students.

What’s your next step? What do you have planned after graduation?

I was accepted into our Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development Counseling and Counselor Education concentration doctoral program at NC State and awarded an NIH scholarship that will help me in pursuing this degree, both financially and professionally.

How has the College of Education prepared you for that next step?

The faculty in my program are phenomenal. I have taken a lot of the things from my courses and applied them to my practicum/internship site and I have also been able to apply certain skills within my graduate assistant position with Wake STEM Early College High School. I was also able to use assignments that I completed in various courses to help form the First-Generation Graduate Student Organization at NC State alongside Dr. Angie Smith and Dr. Alex Kappus, and to present at the 2023 Annual Conference for the North Carolina Counseling Association alongside Dr. Smith.

What do you eventually hope to accomplish in your field?

I’m still figuring that out, and I’m planning to explore it more within my doctoral program.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in the College of Education?

Bringing my family/extended family and friends to campus at various times and showing them around have been some of my favorite memories. I want them to see that they can also go to a university, that they belong and that they wouldn’t be alone in the process.

Tell us about an experience you had with the College of Education that had the biggest impact on you or your career.

Honestly, my overall experience in my program has had the biggest impact on me and my future. Every instructor I had or worked with played a part in my success, where I am right now and where I’m heading as a professional.

Why did you choose education?

I love to share knowledge in general, but especially as a first-generation student with other first-generation students.

What are your research interests? What inspired those interests?

My experiences as a first-generation student at Fayetteville State University and within my current program at NC State shaped my career and research interests. My research interests right now include exploring how mental health/wellness prevention efforts through programs and collaborations can contribute to the overall success in first-generation college and graduate students, but this is still pretty broad.