USF clinical grad student: Starting off at Polk State has many advantages

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

Courtney Jenkins comes from a family of strong women whom she calls “bright lights” in the lives of others. Inspired to become a bright light herself, Jenkins is pursuing a master’s degree in the Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling (CRMHC) Program at the University of South Florida, where she transferred after receiving her Associate in Arts degree from Polk State College.

The CRMHC Program is among the nation’s top 50 in Best Health Schools and Rehabilitation Counseling, according to the U.S. News & World Report, and prepares students to become Certified Rehabilitation Counselors (CRC) and Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC).

Jenkins aspires to work in marriage and family therapy. And while higher education was always part of Jenkins’ plan, attending Polk State provided the Polk County native with unique benefits that she encourages others to seek out at their local colleges.

“It was truly such a great experience,” she explained of her time at Polk State. “My class sizes were small, my professors were very attentive, it’s affordable in general, and if you are within commuting distance, you can save money that way as well.”

Polk State offers tuition that is approximately one-third the cost of universities, without sacrificing the quality of education and workforce training that is provided.

“Polk State prepared me for the next steps in my academic career,” Jenkins said. “Starting off at a community college truly has so many advantages. I really do recommend it to everybody.”

In addition to its affordability, students who graduate with an Associate in Arts degree from Polk State qualify for the State of Florida’s 2+2 articulation which promises admittance to a state university. Polk State students also benefit from specified articulation agreements with universities including USF, which provides the Fuse Program and guarantees students admission into degree programs including the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. These seamless transfer pathways set students on track to completing their general education courses as well as any needed prerequisites before transitioning to the university level.

Now pursuing her graduate studies, Jenkins serves as a student representative of the USF CRMHC Program and as a graduate assistant within the Honors College.

“My inspiration is definitely my family,” she said. “I come from a long line of very strong women. Seeing them overcome struggles and still be a bright light in the presence of everybody else has pushed me to want to be that bright light for others.”

Her advice to students is to be flexible.

“Coming into college from high school is definitely scary,” she said, “but give yourself some leeway and time to adjust.”

“Be open to meeting new people and making new friends, and to branching out to all that the College has to offer.”