Alexander V. Badillo
New York City
Tell us a little bit about your background and your current career.
Though I was born in the United States, I spent large parts of my life living throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. What I really loved about those experiences is that they allowed me to see parts of the world and be exposed to various cultures that most people never have the luxury of seeing.
Because I moved so much, I had to learn how to adapt to new situations quickly, which led me to develop a deeper appreciation for people, their concerns, and the value of interpersonal relationships. I firmly believe that we are in this struggle that we call life together. The term “struggle” might seem negative, but a struggle can be as wonderful as it can be terrible, depending on how the players move on the field, whether they help, hinder, or ignore one another.
What I love about my new career in counseling is that it allows me to help others gain a better understanding of where they are on that field. That I might have the opportunity to help someone become a better version of who they are today. The work that we do as counselors relies entirely on our ability to help others recognize their own potential and to help them regain mastery over their lives.
What made you choose the Counseling@NYU program?
I know a dear friend who completed the residential program while I was in law school and distinctly remember feeling envious when he talked about his program and what direction he saw his career headed. Everything that he spoke about really resonated with me, and I got a strong impression that he received a top-notch education from a renowned institution.
When I finally decided to transition from law to counseling, I wanted to ensure that I attended a school known for having an excellent faculty and that would prepare me to hit the working world running.
Not only do I feel that I received an excellent education from experienced and engaging educators, but I was able to complete my program while traveling throughout the world and in an accelerated amount of time. Though it was difficult to have to stop working at a certain point in the program – once my internship started – I took comfort in the fact that I was able to complete my master’s program in less than two years and that I was able to secure a job before I graduated.
What does earning your master’s in mental health counseling mean to you?
Earning my master’s in this field carries very special significance for me. I finally discovered what it was that I was meant to do. Helping others has always been very important to me, and I searched long and hard before recognizing that perhaps I needed to leverage that into a vocation.
I enjoy the neutrality of my new position and the fact that I am tasked with helping others navigate life’s difficulties. It is a position that truly involves conflict resolution and ultimately helps make the world a better place.
We cannot control what our clients do with their lives or how they leverage the insights that they gain in session. But what we can control is providing the best counseling possible and having our client’s best interests in mind. The intention is to help others gain self-awareness, take personal responsibility, and face the world with their eyes wide open.
How has the program prepared you for success as a mental health counselor?
The program has provided me with what I feel is an excellent baseline education and a multitude of perspectives. NYU Steinhardt strongly emphasizes the value of multiculturalism, and I find myself taking that into account in my daily interactions.
The growing variety of classes available in the online program allowed me to explore practice areas I had not previously considered. While I did not necessarily love every course I took, I can honestly say that each resulted in my learning more about myself, my strengths, and my desires. I already know of a number of specializations that I intend to pursue when I fully launch my career, and it is partly in thanks to what I learned at NYU Steinhardt.
How will this degree move you closer to your long-term career goals and help you become a leader in the field?
A degree from NYU comes with the added benefit of a worldwide network of alumni, mentors, professionals, and professors that you will be able to rely on for the rest of your career. The school carries a well-earned global reputation of excellence. They have pioneered so many programs and initiatives in so many domains, and I look forward to being part of that legacy.
Tell us about your interactions with faculty members throughout your time in the program.
I would say that I had an overwhelmingly positive experience with my professors. I think that one gets back as much as one puts in and – because this was a significant career move for me – I put in as much as I could.
I found that my professors were nearly always there to provide the support and encouragement that I needed. I never felt silly for asking questions and found that I was never rushed or dismissed when I needed something explained in greater detail. My instructors often fielded questions from students regarding their internship sites, complicated concepts, or unique hypothetical situations.
How did the Counseling@NYU immersion experience and curriculum prepare you for your field practicum and internship?
The immersion was hands down my favorite part of this program. Not only was it my first opportunity to meet all of my classmates in person, but I simply had an AMAZING group dynamics professor. Those three days were an exhausting odyssey where I learned so much about myself. Immersion forced me to confront aspects of myself I did not want to see or did not realize were there, and I think that I came out so much stronger and better for it.
Most importantly, it was an opportunity to experience firsthand what our clients go through when they are in a counseling setting. There is a lot of discomfort associated with baring your soul or having others strip it for you. It highlights the distractions that prevent us from addressing what truly needs to be addressed and teaches us to anticipate what our clients may experience. I cannot sugarcoat it – there are moments of pain, anger, resentment, and hostility. When we are faced with them, many of us will turn back and seek comfort in complacency. But if we confront them and work through them, there is an entirely different world awaiting us.