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For Therapist and Argosy Alum Andrea Markum, Loss Inspired a New Life and Career

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When Andrea Markum’s father passed away in 2012, she had no way of knowing how her life—and her career—were about to change.

During her father’s final days, Markum met a hospice counselor who helped him, and the family, face the inevitable.

“While the counselor couldn’t change the outcome, he could—and did—change the process for all of us, especially for my father,” recalls Markum. “He created a space that made it possible for my father forgive and make peace, talk about his life and his feelings in ways he never had before, and accept what was to come. He was incredibly compassionate and helpful in supporting our family through a painful time of transition and loss.”

That experience inspired Markum to reevaluate her life and her career. After ten years in healthcare operations management, she took a leave of absence to catch her breath and assess her priorities.

“I realized that I no longer wanted corporate profitability to be the measure of my success,” Markum remembers. “Coming in under budget was no longer enough. It was time to start focusing on people instead of numbers. I wanted to do work that felt meaningful and significant. One of my favorite parts of previous jobs had been coaching and supporting employees to grow and become their best, so I began exploring what it would take to do that professionally.”

Markum, who lives in Atlanta, already held a B.A. in Business Administration from Saint Paul’s College and an M.A. in Health Service Administration from Strayer University. Once she made the commitment to return to college to pursue her master’s degree in counseling, she researched her options and chose Argosy University.

“Argosy was a perfect fit for me,” says Markum. “It had been a while since I attended college, so the fact there were so many other adult learners on campus was appealing. I didn’t want to feel like the ‘old person’ in the room. The combination of day, evening, and online classes was also very helpful. The flexibility of scheduling made it easy for me to get the classes I needed and to keep moving forward.”

Markum earned her Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Argosy University, Atlanta in August of 2015. In addition to her work as a therapist at Wellspring Counseling Center in Roswell, Georgia, Markum is operations manager of Thr3e Generations Anger Management & Life Skills Center, which she co-founded with her son, Charles. She is also director of operations of Monumental Men, Inc., an organization committed to helping men develop healthy coping mechanisms and communicate more effectively.

Twice a month, Markum co-hosts a radio talk show on WAEC-860AM in Atlanta. The show, Sex Ed 102, features frank, open conversation about love, sex and relationships. Earlier this year, Markum was also featured on an episode of Little Women: Atlanta, the popular Lifetime television reality show.

“When the producers contacted us, I was initially a bit hesitant,” Markum says. “One of the women on the show was experiencing relationship struggles, and they reached out to find her some help in dealing with anger management issues. I said yes because I believed I could help her. Doing therapy with lights, cameras and a production crew watching was definitely different, but I actually enjoyed it because I was able to connect in a way that was valuable to her.”

Back when her focus was on improving her employer’s bottom line, Markum never imagined her career could encompass such a variety of creative opportunities. She says her process of reinvention over the past five years has equipped her to be more empathetic and compassionate as a therapist.

“I know from experience that life isn’t always easy and that change can be challenging,” says Markum. “But I’m also able to encourage my clients to take risks and invest in themselves because I know it’s possible—and I know it’s worth whatever effort it requires.”

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Earn Your Degree in a Culturally Diverse & Growing City at Argosy University, Atlanta

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Argosy University, Atlanta is located within a vibrant city that’s an eclectic mix of tree-lined neighborhoods and high-rise condos and skyscrapers. Students come to the school to study subjects ranging from Business Administration to Nursing, Clinical Psychology, Information Technology, Organizational Leadership, Human Resource Management, Public Health, and Criminal Justice. The school offers doctoral degrees, master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and associate’s degrees. Many programs have flexible learning formats that allow students to fit an education into their busy work and life schedules.

Once admitted to the university, students have access to the school’s library, which provides resources to support campus programs while encouraging life-long learning. The library maintains a specialized collection of books, scholarly journals, audiovisuals, reference materials, dissertations, and theses—reference materials that assist students at all levels of their education to grow academically and professionally. The library is also accessible online.

The instructors in Atlanta are professionals in their field and encourage students to achieve their school and career goals. Phyllis Verdell, who in 2015 earned a Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning from Argosy University, Atlanta says that the “faculty and staff were very helpful and flexible with the working students' schedules. They were very supportive in the classroom and outside of the classroom. I was so blessed to have been in a school where the professors understand the demands on students who have a full-time job and a full-time life outside of college,” she said.

Atlanta is a prominent business center with major employers including The Coca-Cola Company, CNN-Time Warner, Home Depot, Delta Air Lines, AT&T, and Georgia Pacific. The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce states that 25 companies in the Fortune 500 are based within the city. With such a large variety of potential careers in Atlanta, students may take advantage of internship opportunities with these companies to build experience in their field of study.

The largest city in Georgia, Atlanta is the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. and welcomed people from across the world in the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Atlanta is known for its park-like environment, leading to its nickname of the “city in a forest.”

Living in Atlanta has its perks: Sports fans can follow Atlanta teams including the Braves, Hawks, and Falcons. And cultural outings include visits to the Atlanta Opera, Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Alliance Theatre. The city’s High Museum of Art is one of the most visited museums in the world according to The Art Newspaper. And Atlanta is fast becoming known for its eclectic restaurant scene.

Going to college in Atlanta can be a valuable and rewarding experience. So take a look at all of the degrees that Argosy University, Atlanta has to offer. Then click through on the links to learn more about the programs and how they can help you to achieve your educational and career goals. If you’d like to talk to an admissions representative, call (855) 435-5334 or visit our admissions webpage. You can also stop by the school. Our address is 980 Hammond Drive, Suite 100 in Atlanta.

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See auprograms.info for program duration, tuition, fees and other costs, median debt, salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options vary by school and are subject to change. Not all online programs are available to residents of all U.S. states. Argosy University, 980 Hammond Drive, Suite 100, Atlanta, GA 30328 © 2017 Argosy University. All rights reserved. Our email address is materialsreview@argosy.edu.

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For Dickerson, It’s All About Counseling Students to Success

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Even though Argosy University, Atlanta assistant professor Asha Dickerson, Ph.D. was only 20 years old when she graduated with her B.S. in psychology, she has a strong sense of what life is like for her adult students, many of whom are decades older than her.

“As a divorced mom raising an 11-year-old and a 7-year-old, I know how full and demanding life can be,” Dickerson says. “I get what it’s like to keep color-coded work, school and kids schedules in order to keep it all together. That’s one of the reasons I have such respect for people who choose to return to school to pursue an advanced degree and a new career direction. It’s not always easy, and it’s always worth it.”

Dickerson, who specializes in Family Counseling in Substance Abuse and Social and Cultural Diversity, says her goal is to help develop students who can thrive in the real world.

“I want to see my students be effective and successful,” Dickerson says. “I want to help them develop approaches and techniques that prepare them to make a difference, whether they end up working in a hospital program, a mental health agency, or in private practice.”

One of most important lessons counseling students must learn, says Dickerson, is one that can’t be taught in the classroom: finding that delicate balance between caring and caring too much.

“One of my professors at the University of Alabama-Birmingham taught me something years ago that I’ve never forgotten: ‘It’s not about you,’” she recalls. “Counseling is a field where you connect with your clients on a very personal level, yet you can’t take it personally. I’ve learned that while you can and should care, you can’t claim credit for their successes and you can’t assume responsibility for their failures. Setting boundaries and working to achieve a sense of balance are essential. If you don’t, you’ll never sleep at night.”

Having worked for child protective services in Alabama right out of college, Dickerson knows firsthand the practical challenges—and the potential heartache—of the work she trains students to do.

“Many therapists work with the ‘worried well’, people with no diagnosable illnesses, but I’ve always preferred getting in the trenches and working with people who are living hard lives and looking for a way to make it better,” Dickerson explains. “Early in my career, I worked mostly with clients between the ages of 14 and 21, so many of them were aging out of the system. I’d say 85% of my cases were drug and alcohol related. I learned to identify the root of the problem, which is the family. Drugs are an escape, and if everything in your life is going wrong, I can understand that you might want to be numb. You can place a kid in foster care in a mansion with the nicest people in the world, but what happens when he or she is returned to their family? Nothing is likely to change in a family unless the parents change. Not everyone makes it, but when you work with a family and you see positive, lasting changes, it’s incredibly satisfying.”

Dickerson, who earned her doctor of philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision from Auburn University in 2014, comes from a family of achievers. Her parents were both school principals. Her identical twin, Aisha, is an epidemiologist and postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

“My sister and I have the best kind of sibling rivalry,” says Dickerson. “We spark the best in each other and have been each other’s biggest supporters for as long as I can remember. We’ve even begun working on research projects together. Aisha and I joke that we were born into competition. So far, it’s served us pretty well.” ###

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