Pictured: Carbon High School Counselor Melissa Swenson who was recently named as a runner-up in the school counselor of the year competition.
Graduation is a word that carries a world of meaning. For Carbon High School Lead Counselor Melissa Swenson, the very thought of the word sends goosebumps up her arms and a stream of thoughts through her mind.
The word is much more than ten letters to Swenson, who has seen countless students and parents come through her door on their way to the end goal and the diploma that comes with it during her 17 years as a high school counselor.
Swenson reached a climax of those years as she was recently named runner-up in the school counselor of the year competition by the Utah School Counselor Association.
Following a nomination and application process, Swenson was thrilled with the award, highlighting a job that oftentimes goes unnoticed.
Swenson was born in Utah and raised in Payson where she graduated from high school before attending Snow College. After her college graduation, Swenson met her future husband, Dave, and the two were married a year later. To date, Swenson has two daughters, two sons and a grandson as well.
The couple moved to Price in 1984. After a time, Swenson began work at what was then the College of Eastern Utah. During those years, Swenson also decided to continue her education through distance education courses offered via Utah State University. She eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology as well as a master’s degree in the same field with a school counseling emphasis.
“Our real job is to help our students become college and career ready,” Swenson said in regards to her current occupation, “and that includes a lot of different things.”
Whether that help takes the form of ACT testing preparations, senior interviews, running a college application week or helping student discover and apply for scholarships, Swenson manages to stay on top of her many duties.
Though a long to-do list and piles of paper may be daunting, the thought of the students at Carbon and her co-workers keep Swenson entering Carbon High day after day. Swenson has even gone so far as to follow students in the hallway before to ensure they attend their classes.
Rather than a golden rule of advice, however, Swenson explained that much of what she gives to students over and over is encouragement.
“We encourage them to come every day, to go to their classes, to get their homework done,” Swenson said, “and get it out of their backpacks and turn it in.”
“I love coming to work,” she said, “and just being here to help.