At Lourdes, students can earn a degree that allows them to help others through the use of art. Since its inception in 2002, Lourdes' Pre-Art Therapy program has helped the Department of Art double its enrollment and has also given students a new career option to consider.
Shanon Walker Bostater, Lesley Brooks, Emily Cousino, Danielle Perry and Kathleen Tansey are members of the first graduating class of pre-art therapy students. They received their Bachelor of Arts degrees this May.
While they share the same degrees, their stories are very diverse. From participating in beauty pageants to returning to school after years in the workforce, all five have brought unique experiences to Lourdes.
After working for more than a dozen years in a long-term care facility for senior citizens, Kathleen Tansey opted to return to school in the pursuit of a degree in higher education. As a non-traditional student and mother of three, Lourdes appealed to Kathleen because of its accessible programs and small student to faculty ratio.
"Through Lourdes' Pre-Art Therapy program, every course I needed to take in order to complete my degree was mapped out for me," says Kathleen. "Coupled with faculty who are familiar with the field and who truly care about their students, the program proved to be beneficial to my success."
Asked about why they chose Lourdes' Pre-Art Therapy program, both Shanon Walker Bostater and Lesley Brooks noted that art therapy helped them deal with difficult times in their own lives. "I worked with art therapists in the 80s and 90s and I know this type of therapy works," says Lesley.
Because art therapy is a fairly new field, many people are not yet familiar with it as a profession. Both Emily Cousino and Danielle Perry did not learn about art therapy until coming to Lourdes.
"During spring break in my junior year, my art class visited the University of Louisville to see their art therapy program," notes Danielle. "After our visit, I knew that art therapy was the right choice for me."
Regardless of how each came to be a part of Lourdes' Pre-Art Therapy program, all note the positive experiences they had as students.
"My experience at Lourdes has given me the opportunity to see first-hand the impact as well as the possibilities that art therapy has to offer," says Shannon. "Without the tools and experiences that I have had as a student at Lourdes, I could never have imagined the possibilities of a career in this field."
All five women plan on attaining their master's degree in art therapy and are looking at programs in Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.
"I received a full-ride nursing scholarship from the Miss American Organization," notes Emily. "I plan on obtaining my RN and combining it with a Masters in Art-Therapy so that I can work in a hospital setting."
As Shannon, Lesley, Emily, Danielle and Kathleen move forward in their careers, it is likely that their journeys will take them down many different roads. However, one thing will remain the same. The beginning they shared as pre-art therapy students at Lourdes has given them the tools to help others one brush stroke at a time.