Find out more about the educational path this alum pursued.
Meet Shari Elliott,
Shari Elliott understands the power of therapy.
She’s experienced it herself.
Elliott, now a licensed clinical therapist with the State of Utah’s Department of Workforce Services, received counseling when placed in foster care at age 14. “It helped a ton. It gave me some coping skills,” she explains.
She also watched her foster mom, a school counselor, help other kids.
All of these things helped build a passion for counseling and therapy. “The thought of being able to learn how to help people process through those times that they get stuck in life appealed to me,” Elliott says.
Elliott became a clinical therapist in spring 2014, but she had been working for the Department of Workforce Services for a decade before that. She previously worked in eligibility, processing cases for public assistance, such as food stamps and Medicaid.
She pursued two degrees during that time. First, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Services/Management at University of Phoenix.
Much of what she learned, like case management skills, was directly applicable to her job, she explains. But Elliott had her eye on another goal–becoming a clinical therapist. She found out she could also earn her Master of Science in Counseling/ Mental Health Counseling at University of Phoenix. “I was excited and knew that was going to be my next step.”
The program helped her develop knowledge she uses in her day-to-day work, including interview skills and the ability to ask open-ended questions, as well as methods to calm clients.
The skills and understanding of mental illness obtained from her master’s degree also helped Elliott and her family when tragedy struck: her 15-year-old son completed suicide in 2013. “I have been able to apply it personally to work through that in my own life and in my family,” she explains.
Her University of Phoenix cohorts were a huge support for Elliott during this difficult time, she says, adding you really build relationships with your co-graduates. She says she appreciated University of Phoenix’s smaller classes and learning team system.
The University’s schedule worked well for her, since she had to juggle family, a fulltime job and school. “With other mainstream universities, the schedule can be all over the place and that was just something that wouldn’t work for me,” she explains.
Elliott still finds time for nonprofit work. She volunteers with the Utah chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and is also a board member of the Be A Buddy Foundation, an anti-bullying initiative run by a mother who lost her son to suicide via bullying. She’s also working with her former foster mom on getting the state board of education to include more suicide awareness and prevention education in parent and student guides.
She’s already making a difference in her son’s honor, but Elliott isn’t done yet. One of her hopes is to work more with adolescents in the future.
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