Alumni Reflections on 2020: Sarah York (’18)

Sarah is a graduate student pursuing her master’s degree in School Counseling at Columbia University in New York City.

Sarah York head shot photo

Sarah York (’18)

What has been most difficult for you throughout this past year?

Transitioning to a new city. After graduating from Wake, I stayed on as a Wake Forest Fellow. Although an incredible opportunity for growth, there was still a sense of comfort being at my second home (Wake). The transition to a brand new city, and make it New York City at that, was difficult. I missed community and consistency… and familiarity, especially in a year like this.

What has been the most positive aspect of this past year for you, personally and/or professionally?

The first year after I graduated, I struggled with deciphering my “direction.” I had many passions and interests, and things that made me tick… but figuring out what this meant for my life’s journey was difficult. After having impactful conversations with mentors in my fellowship, I decided to pursue graduate school for counseling, specifically college counseling in high schools. This year was tough, for many reasons… I’m sure as others read this there is a collective “amen.” Yet, in the midst of all the difficulties of 2020, I have never felt so assure of the work that I am doing, and the direction I am heading. The feeling I dreamed of most in the midst of all the post-grad “direction” confusion – purpose and alignment between my values and work – has finally settled in, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the mentors and friends at Wake Forest that helped bring this path to light.

How have you grown, changed, and developed throughout 2020?

Graduate school for counseling is not easy – you are forced to ask yourself, “what does my presence bring into this room?” – to study the connotation of presence causes one to dig deep into bias, background, and the walls you may have built, unintentionally. My graduate program, and 2020 itself, has challenged me to reflect on my background, my privilege, and my life’s “why.” How will I use my efforts to make positive change? In what ways am I fighting for equity as a college counselor? How and where am I building bridges, and helping all students overcome systemic barriers?

What lessons from 2020 will you take with you into the year(s) ahead?

My graduate studies, as well as the experiences of 2020, have given me a reminder that I hope to take with me, always: that every person has a story, a story worth being heard.