Adventure awaits: Senior takes leap of faith for move to Alaska

Bridgette Burrus is a senior psychology major (with an art minor) from Hubbard, Ohio. Throughout her time on campus, she’s been highly involved: a volleyball player and secretary for Psi Chi (the psychology honorary). As she entered the spring semester, only an internship stood in the way between Bridgette and her degree. “Bridgette is quiet, but thinks deeply and critically. She's been one of my favorite students in my time at Heidelberg,” Dr. Ginny Gregg shared, discussing the time she spent helping write letters of recommendation for Bridgette’s internship applications.

While searching for that internship, Bridgette was preparing for life after graduation. Her grandmother is an elementary school teacher in Alaska, and she was planning to move there to work as a substitute teacher after commencement. “I was going through the application process, and they suggested that I should consider applying for a school counselor position instead,” Bridgette explained.

All around the United States, schools are experiencing shortages in school counselors. Outside the continental states, Alaska has been equally affected. “When the principal of this specific school, located in Shungnak, Alaska, heard that this was a possibility he asked if I would be willing to come up now because their school hadn't had a school counselor since October.”

While a job is great, Bridgette knew she needed to finish her degree requirements. She told them about her need to finish an internship before she could pack her bags. They were quick to offer a solution that would work for everyone. “They offered to count this last semester as a paid internship through their school counseling department.” 

Bridgette’s internship will require her to counsel for three schools: the one where her grandmother works, and the two in surrounding villages. “I will be expected to travel by bush plane to two surrounding villages, Ambler and Kobuk, since their schools are without a counselor as well.” Being located in Alaska offers a diverse student population that Bridgette will have to work with. “All three schools are primarily Inupiaq Native students, and I will have the incredible opportunity to be exposed and learn a new culture.”

Moving to Alaska for an internship in a community that greatly needs one’s talents is an incredible opportunity – but it gets better! “Through this process the schools I will be working with have informed me that I will have a full time job waiting for me as a school counselor next August, and they would even like to supply me with a grant that will pay for me to continue my education and obtain my master’s degree,” Bridgette detailed.

“I think this experience in Alaska will be great for her. It will allow her to apply what she's learned as a psychology major at a liberal arts college,” Dr. Gregg agreed. “It also will give her a chance to explore the world and it will expose her to an entirely different type of life.”

Bridgette is looking forward to a change in scenery. “I have never been to Alaska, so this will definitely be a wild and new adventure.” She’s extra confident knowing that she’s so wanted in Alaska and her grandma is waiting up North to hang out with her. “I am so excited to hang out with her and be exposed to all these unique life experiences with her by my side.”

The quick turnaround means that Bridgette will be missing her last few months here at Heidelberg, and finishing up her last asynchronous course and independent study away out of state. “I am sad that I am missing my last few months as a college student, but I feel confident that my time here at the Berg has prepared me for this exact moment. I am so fortunate that I was blessed with such an amazing opportunity and felt I needed to dive in head first or I may never come across an offer like this again.” 

It’s thrilling whenever Heidelberg students take such a leap of faith – and it’s without a doubt: Bridgette is moving “up” in the world!

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