Graduating Psychology Major Hopes to be Guiding Influence Like She Once Had

By Tom McLaughlin

Things will get better, Shanice Parran remembers being told.

In high school, the graduating Rutgers University–Camden senior had been struggling with personal and family issues when a guidance counselor told her to keep her head up.

Parran credits her experience tutoring kids at the LEAP University Charter School for realizing that she wanted to go into counseling.

“I was going through some issues that many teenagers go through,” says the senior psychology major, “but he helped me to get my mind straight.”

Sure enough, right before finishing high school, Parran continues, things did work out.

Moreover, although she was facing financial hardship, her counselor went the extra step and helped to secure a waiver for her to apply to several colleges. She was accepted to every one.

“The savings alone meant a lot at such a pivotal time in my life,” says the Bellmawr resident.

Parran is now poised to take on a similar role serving as a guiding influence for high school students, in addition to serving as a licensed professional counselor.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to help others; I just didn’t know in what capacity,” she says.

The native of Sunderland, Md., recalls that she had initially attended Towson University and Bowie State University for a bachelor’s degree in nursing. She didn’t graduate, but worked as a direct care associate at a group home for seniors for The Arc Southern Maryland.

“That job gave me a lot of patience and helped me to put myself in their shoes; I am more compassionate because of it,” she says. “It also helped me to appreciate what I have and gave me the desire to afford other people the opportunities to have a better quality of life.”

Unsure of her career goals, Parran ended up meeting Sister Anetha Perry, a Ph.D. student in public affairs at Rutgers–Camden, a positive influence who encouraged her to continue her studies at the university.

“She encouraged me to think about my career options, instead of just sitting around and thinking about what I wanted to do next,” says Parran, who visited Perry on campus and became well acquainted with the many outstanding programs and services available.

Parran arrived as a student at Rutgers–Camden in fall 2017, focusing her studies on psychology. She soon began tutoring English and language arts at the LEAP University Charter School through the Community Leadership Center’s Young Educated Scholars (YES) Institute. The experience would further chart her career path.

“Just being with the kids made me want to go into counseling,” says Parran, who earned an award honoring students celebrating civic engagement and service learning from the Community Leadership Center in 2018 and 2019. “It also affirmed my choice to major in psychology, since it goes hand in hand with counseling.”

Parran has also been a youth leader assistant for her church, True Way Church of Christ Jesus Apostolic Faith Inc., in Chester, Pa., as well as served as a peer tutor and leader for IMANI Teen Partial Care, a nonprofit that offers counseling and other mental health services for at-risk teenagers in Camden.

The Rutgers–Camden senior notes that often she sees herself in the teens whom she assists and wants to be the same positive influence on them that made such a difference in her life.

“I want to be that person there to say, ‘Don’t give up on school and don’t give up on your dreams,’” says Parran, who is applying to graduate school to become a certified high school guidance counselor. “I want others to have the same opportunities that I had to turn things around.”

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