Tarleton Graduation Speaker Changes Direction for Her Master’s


STEPHENVILLE — The decision to attend Tarleton was easy for Cassie Samuelson. She grew up in Stephenville and her parents studied at Tarleton, so staying home was the logical choice.

Deciding on a career and the educational path to get there was more challenging, but only slightly. Life put many of the answers right in front of her.

Cassie will tell her story Friday when she receives her master’s degree and makes the keynote commencement speech in the university’s 9 a.m. graduation ceremony.

After getting her bachelor’s degree in music in 2018, she realized her passion lay in mental health.

“I worked at a nonprofit for a bit, and during that time I also was actually in my own counseling for personal growth. I have always been a big advocate for mental health, so the program at Tarleton was a natural fit.”

She has a spot waiting for her in a private practice in Frisco upon graduation.

She says her master’s program prepared her well for growth as a mental health professional. She even served as an intern at Tarleton’s Student Counseling Services on the Fort Worth campus.

“My professors have been hugely supportive, not only at the professional level but on a personal level,” she said. “I also think Tarleton does a really beautiful job of setting students up for success with internships and things along those lines.

“Caris Thetford, my supervisor, and Dr. Beck Munsey, department head for the counseling program, have been amazing. Those are my two go-to humans at Tarleton.”

Cassie’s commencement speech will emphasize the importance of living fully in the present.

“Living in the present without sacrificing the goodness of the moment is something I have struggled with,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of work to learn that lesson.

“That’s something I think a lot of students face, going from their bachelor’s to their master’s degree, to really lean into staying in the moment.”

Life after college is “kind of scary,” she acknowledged. “I want to encourage students to keep their feet in today and things should be OK.”

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