Student Spotlight

Michelle VanBuren

Michelle VanBuren Photo for Spotlight

            Completing her undergraduate career from William Paterson University with a B.S. in Business with a focus in marketing and sales, Michelle believed her career path was to own her own pastry business. While she followed in her sister’s footsteps in pursuing a business degree, she quickly realized that her business degree left her dissatisfied. After working first-hand in finance for a local company in Bergen County, NJ, Michelle felt incomplete. While she prides herself on her interpersonal skills and ability to connect with others, she realized that she was doing neither of those things when working as an assistant billing coordinator.

           Michelle contacted her friend who was working as an Applied Behavioral Analyst (ABA) in River Edge, NJ. After talking to her colleague about wanting a career that would have her connect with individuals first hand, she was recommended to apply for a job as a part-time instructional aide. This experience gave Michelle the fulfillment she sought, so from this point forward she realized that she wanted to work further in the school districts and to attain her M.A. in Counseling with a Concentration in School Counseling. Ultimately Michelle recognizes that “[she] was fortunate that [she] realized business wasn’t for [her] at such a young age.” Additionally, Michelle was fortunate to have a very positive motivating force to assist her to become a school counselor. Talin Young, Michelle’s own high school guidance counselor, was a motivating and inspirational force that aided her in choosing to switch her career to counseling. In high school Michelle saw her school counselor weekly since she was deeply impacted when her family member was stricken with cancer. Michelle acknowledges the impact of her mentor on her career when stating, “I hope I can touch one child’s life the way she touched mine.”

            With mentor guidance and first-hand experience working in the field, she recognized that she would move into the counseling profession and knew that CACREP accreditation was important for her career. Seeking a program that met the national CACREP standards, Montclair State University quickly came to the forefront for Michelle’s institution of choice, since it met the accreditation requirements as well as being “affordable,” “local,” and provided a “change” for her. Michelle’s knew that she chose the correct institution when she met with her advisor, Dr. Kooyman. Reflecting on the experience, Michelle remembers “feeling a sense of unity and a caring environment.” Now a second year student in the program, Michelle is happy to be pursuing a career in counseling and is glad that she chose Montclair for this career change.