It’s About the Journey and the Destination for IBH Student
Gloria Kranenburg started college as an undecided major. She took a lot of different classes in a lot of different areas looking for that special subject that would ignite a spark.
“I took literally everything—theater and music and business and history and political science,” she says. “And I remember being in this business class and there were all these guys who were asking all these questions and were so engaged, and I was like, I don't feel that way about this class, but I want to feel that way about whatever I do.”
Gloria had always gravitated toward the helping professions and has a lot of family members who work in healthcare. So eventually she chose a psychology major with a minor in biology with the intent of going to medical school.
And then she did a service year in Colorado. “It was called the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers. That was a really big year for me.”
What a Difference a Year Makes
Gloria and 17 other people lived together and worked full-time at various nonprofits in the Denver area. They learned about a range of social issues like homelessness, health care, and equity through guest speakers and hands-on projects.
Gloria worked as a patient health advocate for low-income seniors. She and a nurse would visit health clinics every month, taking patients' blood pressure, answering questions about medication, etc. Gloria’s role was to connect them to affordable resources, like help them apply for grants or set up appointments or transportation.
“I'd been applying to post-baccalaureate programs during that time to get caught up on some science so that I could go to med school, and I got into one of them, and that was kind of the plan.”
But then she realized that she enjoyed talking directly with the folks she was meeting, uncovering what they really needed, which was often just someone to talk to. She wanted to help them beyond what troubled them physically.
“I had never intended to use my psych degree to pursue counseling or anything psychology related,” she says. “It was always my intention to use it as the base to go on to grad school for something else. It was during that year that I was like, okay, maybe I should be considering counseling jobs.”
Following Her Interests
After that year, Gloria moved to the Twin Cities and began a job in a day treatment program for preschoolers with autism. That job helped convince her to stay on the counseling track.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic came, and Gloria was furloughed. This sped up her decision to go to graduate school. She applied to the Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) master’s program and got in. By then she had a new job at Melrose Center, working with people with eating disorders.
“I really love to just try out lots of different jobs, especially internships,” she says. “I just like to follow my interests.”
Gloria has been able to do just that in the IBH program. She has already taken a course in human sexuality and wants to dive deeper into prenatal, postnatal, and postpartum mental health issues, family unification, and foster care–all topics that have a “physical and psychological overlap.”
Her most recent internship was with Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, where she taught motherhood, child development, and basic life skills. She will start a new internship soon in Rochester, MN, where she recently moved with her new husband.
A Future Full of Possibility
When she first got to graduate school, Gloria thought maybe she had it all figured out and would focus her attention on one area. “But no,” she says, ”now I'm in the field and there's tons of options and opportunities.”
She says that it took her some time to find the right balance between work, school, and following other professional interests, like reading books recommended by professors or going to speaking events or conferences. “I feel like I've only been doing that more recently, just because it took me a while to find that balance.”
“I'm just trying to keep it flexible. I can still prioritize exploring so I can figure out where I want to develop my skills even further."
Gloria hopes that her next internship will be family and child focused, so she can narrow down which population she might want to work with. Beyond that, she doesn’t have any definite plans other than to continue to seek out new experiences.
“I'm just trying to keep it flexible,” she says. “I can still prioritize exploring so I can figure out where I want to develop my skills even further… the exploring doesn't stop.”
With her unique background in psychology and biology, there are so many different directions she could go in counseling. And she will likely consider them all.
The benefit of earning dual licensure.
“I guess I didn't realize how intermixed everything is and how prevalent dual disorders are, how there are usually elements of substance use and mental health at play. It isn't super common to have that dual track, and it made me grateful that I ended up in this program.”
“Any class by Fiyyaz (Karim) no matter what the topic is. The way he teaches is just very engaging and is a mix between lectures and presentations. The assignments he uses to help us take in all the information and apply it have just always been great.”
“I also really liked the diagnostics class (Foundations in Differential Diagnosis). That was an area that I thought I would not like at all, because it is so by the book. But being in that class was super interesting because it talked about how we need to sift through and really nail down what someone's diagnosis is so we can treat it accurately.”
Photos courtesy of Gloria Kranenburg.