Dr. MaryAnn Seng, Assistant Professor at Concordia University Irvine.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. MaryAnn Seng, Assistant Professor, Program Coordinator, M.A.Ed. School Counseling

What program do you teach at Concordia University Irvine? What drew you to this field of study? What keeps you excited about it? 

I teach in Concordia University Irvine’s M.A.Ed. School Counseling program. I am also the program coordinator for the practicum and fieldwork program. I love this field of study because children and adolescents are fascinating. There is such a wide range of topics to learn about, and new research is constantly adding to the existing body of knowledge.

I am always excited about this field because I am committed to upholding the safety and well-being of children everywhere. To inspire Concordia candidates to continue bearing the torch to uphold the safety and well-being of children is a true blessing because I will be able to impact more little lives across California by teaching and impacting the current candidates in my class.

How will your program better prepare/equip educators for the current climate we’re in?

We are currently updating our course content to match the new state standards, and there will be mention of the online delivery of school counseling services due to the pandemic and the overall adjustment to a more digital society. The increased stress and mental health challenges experienced by students during the pandemic challenged school counselors everywhere to think of how students may be better served and identified for appropriate support without face-to-face interaction.

We encourage our candidates to think through the legal and psychological implications of such issues to prepare if anything like the pandemic should re-occur, because we instruct candidates about concepts involving crisis and trauma and dealing with the aftermath of life-altering events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

What attracted you to Concordia University Irvine? What sets them apart? 

Concordia University Irvine attracted me for many reasons. I love being in an environment that allows me to integrate biblical truth with educational and psychological principles. The leadership team is also wonderful. They are servant-leaders dedicated to providing students with a quality learning experience, and there is always action behind their words.

The school counseling instructors and fieldwork supervisors are also exceptional professionals who are very knowledgeable about the field. Because they are actively employed as school counselors, they offer a practical perspective to foundational textbook concepts, enabling candidates to understand issues comprehensively. It is truly a joy and a privilege to be working alongside professionals who care about their students and have their best interests at heart.

What is your professional background as an educator?

My professional background includes school counselor, school psychologist, academic advisor/faculty coordinator, internship program coordinator, crisis team member, and bilingual consultant. I earned a B.A. in psychology from Biola University, an M.A. in school counseling, an M.A. in school psychology, and Ph.D. in Education with a school psychology emphasis from Chapman University.

Tell us a little about yourself. Why did you become interested in education?  

I have always loved working with children, and I have loved the field of psychology ever since I was in high school. When I started to study clinical psychology in graduate school, a classmate told me about the field of school counseling. I did some research about this fascinating field, and I liked what I learned. After the following semester, I quit the clinical psychology program and entered a double master’s program offering school counseling and school psychology degrees.

What would you tell prospective students considering your program about yourself? What’s something that students and colleagues should know about you?

Because my family entered the United States as refugees, I know the challenges of surviving in America regarding finances, language, culture, and education. That is why I am especially excited to see first-generation students of all races and cultures enter our program. I am incredibly excited that their degrees can potentially be used to help the next generation of young students within their community. Our minority graduates may be a catalyst to support minority student access to increased educational and occupational opportunities in America.

What advice do you have for students interested in pursuing their school counseling degree? How can people stand out in this field? 

The advice I would share with candidates is that one must genuinely love people to enjoy this job. Developing good people skills will help one to be an effective school counselor. It is easy to assume that one will just be working with children as a school counselor. However, school counselors must also interact with students’ teachers, administrators, parents, and other agencies. Thus, one will be surrounded by a variety of personalities, both young and old. Learning to work well with each of those personalities will facilitate success in one’s career, but more importantly, facilitate success for each precious child who needs our support.