USM’s 2004 Students of the Year
Each year, the University acknowledges and celebrates its Students of the Year. This year, making these selections was even more challenging than usual, with more exceptional students to choose from than ever before. Why? Because the class of 2004 is the largest graduating class in USM’s 23-year history. 250 students were awarded certificates and degrees at the graduation ceremony on August 29, 2004.
This year two students from the M.A. in Spiritual Psychology Program, one from the M.A. in Counseling Psychology, and one from the M.A. in Spiritual Psychology with an Emphasis in Consciousness, Health, and Healing Program were selected to receive the Student of the Year award.
After the time-honored hooding ceremonies and the granting of degrees to this year’s graduates, and preceding an inspiring speech from this year’s commencement speaker Barbara Marx Hubbard, four (very surprised!) students were honored with awards. With the beautiful auditorium at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus almost filled to its 1,800-seat capacity, USM’s educational community gathered together with over 1,400 friends and family members to honor this year’s Students of the Year.
How are these students selected? As USM’s Academic Vice President, Dr. Mary R. Hulnick, shared after the ceremony, “Selecting the recipients of these awards is one of our most challenging tasks. Each one of our students is extraordinary. Each individual who has completed our Programs at USM has demonstrated a remarkable blend of commitment, loving self-discipline, and courage. USM’s Programs are academically rigorous and call each student forward to a deep level of self-exploration in service to learning and the evolution of their own consciousness.”
The recipients of this year’s Student of the Year awards have demonstrated consistent, outstanding academic excellence in every area, as well as a high degree of mastery in the practical application and integration of the many skills, tools, and principles that are integral to a USM education.
This year’s recipients each shared their gratitude for the many gifts that they had received as a result of their participation at USM. Please meet the University of Santa Monica’s Students of the Year for 2004:
Steve McDonald, Master of Arts in Spiritual Psychology
As Steve accepted his award, he was clearly filled with the deep appreciation of someone who has discovered a new way of being. He expressed his joy as he addressed his classmates and the faculty that had shared his USM journey during the last two years: “I have fallen in love with every one of you. I want to thank you for opening up my heart and bringing myself back to my Self! Thank you SO much!”
Kamakshi Hart, Master of Arts in Spiritual Psychology
As she stood at the podium after collecting her award, Kamakshi’s radiant smile said it all. “All of you have become my family of the heart,” she enthused. “This class is truly a miracle of loving, and I feel so blessed to have been a part of this journey with you all. We rock!”
Victoria Harper, Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology
A significant number of USM’s students answer the call to seek licensing in the State of California as a Marriage and Family Therapist. Completing USM’s Master of Arts Degree Program in Counseling Psychology, which fulfills all the educational requirements for licensing as an MFT, is, in itself, a significant educational and professional achievement. This curriculum is presented within the USM context of Spiritual Psychology and Soul-Centered education.
USM’s Counseling Psychology students are in high demand in therapeutic settings throughout the greater Los Angeles area due to the levels of competence they demonstrate and the Presence they carry.
This year’s award winner, Victoria Harper, spoke to this as she joyfully accepted her award. “Thank you so much for this beautiful honor! I can’t think of anywhere that I would rather be honored. My classmates, professors, my friends here are the most remarkable people I have ever met. This has been an amazing year, as we have taken Spiritual Psychology out into the community into county hospitals, treatment facilities, low-fee clinics, and public schools, truly facilitating consciousness and healing. I have to tell you, our lives have been much more interesting than reality TV!
“As counselors in these settings, I have seen that when we stay focused on ourselves as Spiritual beings, and stay focused on that in our clients, THAT is really the key of being of service to conscious evolution. Thank you!”
Trish Paramore, Master of Arts in Spiritual Psychology with an Emphasis in Consciousness, Health, and Healing
“This is beyond belief,” shared Trish as tears of joy ran down her cheeks. “I echo what others have said. There is nowhere else I would rather receive an award, no other people that have meant more to me in my life. I am also a graduate of the Counseling Psychology Program, which is an incredible gift in my life. But this class is in my heart, and just to be here and be with them today is a blessing. Thank you all so much!”
Each of these individuals is a shining example of the positive transformation, growth, and renewed sense of purpose that are the hallmarks of a USM Graduate. The University is proud to add them and all those in the class of 2004 to our remarkable family of graduates!