Humans Behaving Blog

PSY Paths: Jenna McGown, Class of 2006

Posted on November 29, 2016 by Paul Silvia

It’s the last week of the Fall 2016 semester, a time when students and faculty alike are feeling the crunch. This semester strikes me as especially crunchy, but I confess that I haven’t evaluated it scientifically on the many standard scales of crunchiness that have been developed by our colleagues in texture studies.

The hullabaloo of the semester’s end is a good time to check in on some of our PSY graduates, who are probably glad not to be cramming for finals right now. This week, we’re checking in with Jenna McGown, undergraduate class of 2006.

jennamcgown_psyWhat was your path here at UNCG?

When I started my undergrad years at UNCG I thought I wanted to be a teacher. I worked my way through 3 years and 2 internships in the special education teacher program before I realized that that path did not feel right for me. In my 4th year I took a big risk and changed my major to psychology, and soon picked up a second major in Women’s and Gender studies, with a minor in sociology. Even though I had tons of additional classes to make up, after spending 3 years in a highly specialized program where most of the credits would not count towards my new majors, I loved my new coursework and never once regretted my decision.

What was your path after UNCG? What are you doing now?

After the 6 years it took me to get my bachelor’s degrees, it was time to give my brain a break. I went for a more labor-intensive job at a place then called The General Store, where I met the love of my life (who I later married). People would come in and buy their snacks and beer and talk to me about their lives, and sometimes say I should be a counselor. A few years later I took another huge risk and walked away from a desk job with a salary, benefits, and a wonderful group of coworkers to go back to UNCG and get my Master’s in counseling.

Now I am a counselor in private practice at Fisher Park Counseling (where I completed my internship in the counseling program) and I absolutely love it; there is nothing else I would rather be doing. I work mainly with individual adults and couples and right now see an average of 10 clients a week (which is about perfect for me while I am also working as a yoga teacher).

I find an incredible amount of meaning in the work I do with clients. This work fascinates me and presents no shortage of opportunities for professional and personal growth. Plus it’s great making my own schedule and getting to set my own pace. I have an endless amount of gratitude for all of the people and experiences along the way that helped me get here.

What advice would you give to our current students who would like to work in the same kind of career? What could or should they be doing now to get prepared and be competitive?

I would invite current students to take the time as an undergraduate to explore and find what you are passionate about and what brings meaning to your life. I’ve found that if you listen to your gut, it will lead you to the challenges that you actually want to work for. And also remember the importance of taking breaks when you need them! Give yourself permission to change your mind, and to take risks in order to find the path that feels right for you.

Thanks, Jenna!

“Humans Behaving” is an informal blog run by the UNCG Department of Psychology devoted to matters large and small, from humble happenings to departmental history to our students’ many stories and successes. Have an idea for a story? Are you one of our graduates with a story to tell? Contact Paul Silvia at

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