"College of Saint Mary is a place where not only can you grow as a student, but also grow as an individual."
Abril Serrato, a senior at CSM, once planned to become a high school teacher. However, at the beginning of her college journey, she realized her love for education was still present, but she wanted to help students in a different way. Abril discovered she wanted to assist students in navigating life after high school by finding their way to college, the workforce or the military while caring for their mental health.
Through the learning process, Abril realized that her dream job was to become a school counselor. "That's how I ended up in psychology, and it changed my life," she said. The courses have allowed her to learn more about herself than ever before. "I've learned about my strengths and weaknesses. Through the courses and psychology department, I've been able to enhance my relationships with others. It's been very eye-opening and is rewarding to see how I've grown as an individual because of the psychology program."
Psychology is social and person-centered, which aligns with Abril's personality of treating people with dignity, compassion and respect. "I'm a very social person. I love hearing about others' experiences, taking what I've learned, and giving them helpful advice," she said.
"Psychology is a holistic approach. It's reflective of how you are doing mentally and emotionally. Allowing you to ask, ‘How is your life outside of school? And how are your relationships with family and friends?’" Abril added.
Besides her academic classes, Abril is an active member of the CSM community. "I've dipped my toes into about everything," she said.
Abril has been a member of the Student Senate for three years, serving as a member, committee chair and senate executive. She's also been involved in Campus Activities Board, Latinas Empowering Others (LEO), Student Psychology Club, Leadership Leap, Student Orientations Staff, and CSM Advantage.
"You name it, anything, I've done it," she said. Abril said that involvement came from her experience as a student at Omaha Bryan High School, where she was also heavily involved in activities. "I think coming here, I gravitated toward those things," she said. "Over the years, I've been able to solidify what my passions really are and stick with those things. For example, I'm still a member of LEO."
Abril said CSM offers a lively, judgment-free environment, allowing students to grow. "Overall, I feel like this is a place where not only can you grow as a student, but also grow as an individual," she said. "I would say College of Saint Mary does that better than any other University."
Following graduation in December, Abril plans to apply to Creighton University's school counseling and preventative mental health master's program. She aspires to be a school counselor for Omaha Public Schools.
"I believe that even within districts, the most disparities exist within OPS. You see fewer students from this district going onto college," she said.
By Leeanna Ellis