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Karol Gaitan ’04

 

Karol Gaitan ’04

Karol Gaitan ’04 (Central Falls High School) graduated magna cum laude from the University of Rhode Island in 2008 with a B.A. in Psychology and Theater. She went on to earn an M.A. in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling in 2010 from Salve Regina University. Karol is also nationally certified as a rehabilitation counselor. “I started graduate school in a counseling psychology program at Assumption College,” she says, “but after a year, I changed my focus to vocational rehabilitation counseling and transferred to Salve Regina University. I have always been fascinated with finding the motivation behind a person’s decisions or actions, so pursuing a career in counseling was pretty organic.”

Karol currently works as Outcomes Career Coach for a startup tech company in Boston called General Assembly. Previously she served as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the State of Rhode Island and as a provider of disability support services to students at Brown University.

 Karol has also worked for The College Crusade as a Ways to A’s Instructor, teaching study skills to young Crusaders. “From my experience as a Crusader, I felt that the constant push to succeed is what I benefited from the most,” she says. “In an environment where many don’t even consider college as an option, having people there letting me know that college was possible helped increase my motivation.” Karol especially remembers the homework support the Crusade provided for her after school and the help she received with college and financial aid applications. She also appreciated her College Crusade Scholarship. “Like many other Crusaders, I did not have the funds to really support myself during school,” she says. “Scholarships and grants made it possible for me to pursue my education as far as I wanted to take it.”

For Karol, college was an eye-opening experience. “I was taken out of my comfort zone, both academically and socially,” she says. “I grew up in a very small town, and it was interesting to see how sheltered I was in my youth.”

For Crusaders starting college this year, Karol offers advice that comes from her own experience and from observations she made while working directly in a college setting. “One of the main things to acknowledge is that things are not going to be handed to you,” she says. “Supports are out there, but not every school or workplace will be seeking you out to offer it. Be realistic with yourself and don’t wait to ask for help when things have already spun out of control. I’ve seen way too many students dig a hole for themselves by not doing simple tasks, such as waiting too long to ask for an extension on an assignment or not taking two minutes to search the school website for resources.”

In her free time, Karol volunteers with Friendsway, a children’s grief support program based in Warwick. She also photographs shelter dogs.

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