Linda Dreisbach–In the Face of Life’s Challenges, Psychology Student Goes Back to School Determined to One Day Start Her Own Private Counseling Practice
Growing up, Linda Dreisbach’s parents were successful self-made entrepreneurs. She was fortunate to grow up with a privileged life. “My parents worked hard and we had nice things. But most importantly, they were involved in the community and helping those in need. They instilled in their children a freedom of adventure and a sense of caring and empathy toward others. They were thrilled that their success allowed me to serve people in need."
When she was just 16, with the support of her parents, Linda started missionary work and traveled to Egypt to help in an orphanage. “I realized my true calling was to help others,” Linda said. “I never considered myself a ‘book-smart’ person and I didn’t do that well in school, socially or academically. I didn’t enjoy learning because it didn’t come easy to me.” Linda dropped out of high school, eventually earning her GED, and became a full-time Christian missionary. She traveled to Haiti, China, India, and Korea, where she mostly implemented children’s ministry programs. Linda wrote curriculum, trained teachers and staff, and then moved on to the next area that needed her assistance.
On one of her trips, Linda met a fellow missionary. They married and had two children, and Linda became a stay-at-home mom while continuing missionary work with her husband. She also became a third-degree black belt and martial arts instructor.
Nearly 20 years later, Linda realized that she needed to step out on her own. Linda and her husband made the difficult decision to divorce, which set her apart from the church and missionary she served. Once her marriage ended, her career ended as well and she lost most of her friends.
At 40 years old with two kids on their way to college, Linda’s cash flow was running out. “It was—and still is—pretty scary,” Linda said. “But I have no regrets about anything. I knew in my heart that I was making the right decisions for my children and me.”
“I had pretty much been counseling others for my entire career, in my missionary work and in my martial arts job as well,” Linda continued. “But I needed a college degree for additional credibility to get a job. I was always interested in psychology, so I thought it would be a great fit.”
Linda used the last of her savings to invest in her and her family’s future. She enrolled in the accelerated bachelor’s degree in psychology program at Kaplan University and earned her degree, graduating summa cum laude. “Everyone was really surprised and super proud of me, especially my parents.”
Now Linda is at the prestigious University of Southern California, where she’s a full-time student in the online graduate social work program. She starts her field internship next week.
“Graduate school is really hard,” Linda said. “But to tell you the truth, I feel like I am usually a few steps ahead of my peers at USC! This is coming from someone who never felt smart or confident in my academic abilities. I feel it’s all due to Kaplan University. The University set the bar so high. For the first time, I learned how to study. I learned not to be afraid to ask for help. I learned that I am not alone, that there was a whole community was there to help me learn and succeed. It was so empowering and exciting!”
Once Linda earns her master’s degree she would like to start a career in clinical social work and develop her own private counseling practice.