Recent CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) Psychology graduate Monica Sifuentes’ dream to become a school psychologist was born out of a deep interest in people paired with her adventures on an elementary school stage playing every character from a rich girl in a fur coat to  an angel in a silver unitard.  

“My favorite costume was when I got to wear the big fur coat, pearls and little heels,” Sifuentes remembered. “I didn’t have any speaking lines, but, coming from a low income household in real life, I felt so royal.”

When she got older, she began directing children’s plays and realized how much she enjoyed working with kids. Having been placed in classes for the gifted and talented, Sifuentes was also fascinated with the testing and measurements used to make sure every student was getting an optimal learning experience. Becoming a school psychologist seemed ideal.

CSUCI Extended University (EU) helped turn her dream into a diploma.

The first in her generation to earn a degree from a four-year university, Sifuentes graduated from CSUCI after the fall 2020 semester - magna cum laude.

 She never could have achieved her goal without taking the EU Summer Session in both 2019 and 2020, Sifuentes said.

 “It’s very convenient,” she said. “It helps you if you feel like you’re behind, or if you want to get ahead, like I did.”

Summer Session helped Sifuentes catch up when she transferred from Ventura College in 2019 and jump ahead after the pandemic hit in 2020.

After enrolling in CSUCI, she realized she needed a statistics class in order to meet the prerequisites required for the upper division courses she wanted to take to meet her goal of graduating in two years. So, she enrolled in a Summer Session statistics class and was able to attend upper division classes in the fall.

But in spring of 2020, she was facing a behavioral neuroscience class that was going to require a lot of her attention on top of a full load of courses in the fall. So, she decided to enroll in Summer Session once again and stay ahead by finishing the course.

Then came the pandemic.

 “When the pandemic hit and I lost one of my two jobs, I couldn’t afford to pay for summer classes,” Sifuentes said.

Fortunately, the EU launched the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Summer Grant program in summer of 2020 and Sifuentes became one of 539 students that summer who could now attend a Summer Session.

Now that she has graduated, Sifuentes is applying for graduate school, still focused on her dream of becoming a school psychologist.

 Besides helping kids the way she was helped by her own school counselors, she hopes to continue to direct school plays, and hopefully make sure no kid ever winds up in her least favorite costume: a silver unitard and tulle skirt she wore when she played an angel.

“Got to keep kids out of silver unitards,” she laughed. 

Summer Session registration opens up on March 29, 2021. For more information, please visit our Summer Session webpage.

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