Annette Perales, PhD
Core Faculty, City University of Seattle
Ph.D. Counselor Education and Supervision, Western Michigan University
M.A., Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Gonzaga University
B.S., Psychology, Washington State University
Dr. Annette’s story in her own words: My name is Annette Calvario Perales. Originally from, Walla Walla, WA, I have a twin sister, younger sister, and am a daughter of Mexican immigrants. I was in college for a total of 12 years. My journey into higher education began at Walla Walla Community College. After completing my general education requirements, I transferred to Washington State University and completed my bachelor’s in psychology in 2014. While in the McNair program, I had the opportunity to present at a handful of conferences. I flew in a plane for the first time in my life to attend a national McNair conference in Maryland (with my twin sister, who was also a McNair Scholar).
I was interested in mental health and applied to APA and CACREP-accredited programs. I interviewed at several graduate programs. I chose to attend the clinical mental health counseling master’s program at Gonzaga University in 2014. It was my first time living in a larger city, and I was terrified. My program was intimate, and I learned early that you cannot hide in a counseling program. I became close to most of the other BIPOC graduate students (there were not many of us). I was challenged personally and professionally. Our professors preached, “trust the process.” No one said growth would be easy, but I also did not realize it would be as difficult as it was. During my first semester, I wanted to quit my program. In my eyes, I did not see counseling as a way of creating systemic change, something I had great passion for. I thought helping humans create change at the individual level was not a part of systemic change. I wanted to somehow be a part of a change at the macro level. It was more than that – I thought I was not good enough to become a counselor.
During my time at Gonzaga, my confidence grew. There was a large part of me that became curious for more. I enjoyed counseling and became curious about teaching. My mentor and advisor provided me with the opportunity to be his teaching assistant. I cotaught two courses and loved it! I decided to apply to doctoral programs and had the opportunity to interview at several CACREP-accredited programs. I completed my required clinical hours in my master’s program early and graduated with honors. I was excited, emotional, and filled with joy. What I did not realize then was how I would feel leaving my family and moving to Michigan where I attended my doctoral program.
In 2016, I began my doctoral program in counselor education and supervision at Western Michigan University. I felt lonely, lost, and again wanting to quit. I had a mentor tell me, “If you do not seriously contemplate quitting your doctoral program at least 10 times in a semester, are you really in doc school?” I thought it was funny, but also my reality. I was fully funded and training to be a counselor educator. My second year, I began making connections and networked with folks at my university. I was a full-time student, part of university committees, cotaught several courses, worked for student success programs, was an academic advisor, served clients at two local universities, obtained full licensure in Michigan, just to name a few things. I had started writing my dissertation one semester before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic shifted my world; it was one of the toughest years. After several personal and professional challenges, I defended my dissertation proposal in October 2020, and passed. The data collection phase was quick, thanks to the networking I had engaged in earlier. After 64 months of writing, in October 2021, I successfully defended my dissertation titled, “Intragroup Marginalization Among Latinx Migrant Farmworker College Students.” I was hired as a counselor educator before I walked for graduation on December 18, 2021.
I am now a core faculty member at City University of Seattle in the counselor education master’s program. I have been with the university for just over a year. I also have a private practice I manage. I could not have made it here without the support of my family, close friends, mentors, and McNair. If there is something to take away here, take this – build relationships, network, be resourceful, and take care of your mental health. Persistence will help you in completing your journey in academia.