Finding your calling

Finding your calling

The Master of Science in Education – Counseling program from UW-Superior helped Sarina Ronning find her career path

Many times, life can seem like a maze. With each choice comes doubt on if this is the correct decision.

After earning a Bachelor of Science in respiratory care, Sarina Ronning soon realized that she needed something different in life.

“I have been a registered respiratory therapist for the last seven years,” said Ronning. “After working through the entire pandemic in the intensive care unit, I started to find myself getting empathy fatigue and burnout. This hadn’t happened in my four years prior being a respiratory therapist.”

For Ronning, who is originally from Duluth but moved to Seattle at 17 to join the Navy, her own mental health began to deteriorate.

  “I have always struggled with my own mental health issues,” she said. “I got to a place where I wasn’t receiving the help I needed and I attempted suicide. I remembered that Superior had a VA [Veterans Affairs] and the first day I went there they got me set up with a new mental health team.”

From that moment, a new path for Ronning quickly was revealed.

“My psychiatrist told me with all my lived experience and love for education, I should become a mental health therapist,” she said. “I didn’t think anything of it and then literally a week later saw an ad for UW-Superior’s Master of Science in Education – Counseling program on social media. It was like all the stars aligned.”

The ability to continue her education with a master’s degree was another aspect Ronning found motivating.

“As a first-generation college grad, the fact that I was able to achieve higher education was incredible,” she said.

With a new goal set on becoming a professional therapist with all the avenues that the degree opens for areas of counseling, Ronning enrolled in the program offered by UW-Superior and utilized the online option to best fit with her schedule.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “It is self-paced, so I was able to finish it faster than I initially thought. I love school, so I enjoyed being full time and working full time. The instructors have been wonderful and it’s a very comprehensive program.”

Although the learning for Ronning was remote, there was the ability to connect with students and faculty.

“I enjoyed meeting other students while in pre-practicum and practicum class,” she said. “I have made a few lifelong friends even while in an online program and met some professors who also happen to be therapists in the community.”

The structure of the course has also been beneficial to the learning experience.

 “It’s prepared me very well,” she said. “Especially the way the degree plan is set out. Internship and counseling theories has been the most beneficial.” 

Earning a master’s degree and achieving this goal brought additional feelings of accomplishment for Ronning.

“Showing my daughter that women in higher education is completely possible,” she said. “That the stress and worry of it is totally possible to get through. And I was able to get my first job as a therapist at my internship site.”