Rhiannon Wegenast (BA Psych ’07) is making a career of helping others. Rhiannon works as a provisional psychologist for the Camrose branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association coordinating a counselling program, through which she counsels people facing struggles in their day-to-day lives. Rhiannon also facilitates an anger management group for the Family Violence Action Society. When she is not at CMHA or FVAS, she also has some private and Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselling contracts.
“What I find most rewarding is watching people gain insight and reassert power over their circumstances,” Rhiannon says. “The clients are really the ones doing the work—the counsellor acts as a facilitator and tries to bring to light new possibilities.”
Rhiannon originally began her university studies at U of A’s Edmonton campus, but she transferred to Augustana after her first year. “Within a week,” she says, “I knew I’d made the right decision. The Augustana environment is very supportive, and my professors were accessible, approachable, and student-focused.”
Augustana’s psychology professors prepared Rhiannon for both graduate studies and her career. “Paula Marentette challenged us to improve our academic writing skills, and for that I am very grateful now! Olga Sutherland, who was working as a counsellor at the time, brought her experience and passion to class and really inspired me. I’ll never forget Tim Parker’s enthusiasm for brain research and Sean Moore’s wonderful guidance as my thesis advisor. At Augustana, I experienced the value of connecting with people and with a subject matter.”
Rhiannon began volunteering for the CMHA while she was a student at Augustana, and before long, she was offered a paid position working weekends as a support worker. After she graduated, she began working for the CMHA full-time, and she also undertook Athabasca University’s Master of Counselling degree, which she completed in 2012. She is currently accumulating the counselling hours and training she requires to register as a professional psychologist, which she says is a daunting but exciting next step.
Given her dedication to lifelong learning and to continually developing new skills, Rhiannon is well poised to make a difference in her career.