Young Alumni Q&A: Savannah Thomas

A woman with long brown hair wearing master's degree graduation regalia stands in front of an ivy-covered wall.

Headshot of a woman on a bridge with a river and old buildings in the backgroundSavannah Thomas (’16) is in her second year as the school counselor at McAuliffe Manual Middle School in Denver, Colorado. After graduating from Colorado State University in 2016 with a major in human development and family studies and a minor in Spanish, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda teaching elementary English until 2018. She then went on to graduate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2021 with an M.Ed. in prevention science and practice along with a Certificate of Advanced Study in School Counseling. She loves living in Denver but will always have Fort Collins in her heart!

Describe your current position and some of the responsibilities that come with it.

Two women stand with a middle school student in a school building.
Thomas with 7News reporter Micah Smith (left) and a middle school student

I am the school counselor at McAuliffe Manual Middle School, a wonderful Title I middle school in the Five Points area of Denver. I love this role because I have varying responsibilities that allow me to build relationships with students and families in different ways, such as career and future planning, mental health service provision/coordination, and academic counseling! This means that I get to talk to students about how they’re doing, about what they’d like to do in their future, and about what they can be doing now as middle schoolers to work towards their goals.

Watch a 7News story of Thomas’s work supporting students with a mentoring program.

Why did you decide to pursue your current career path?

A student and faculty member celebrate graduation in graduation caps and gowns.
Thomas with HDFS faculty mentor Jen Krafchick

I initially decided to pursue this career path because of my Childhood Development and Adolescent Development courses in HDFS. In these classes I learned about the importance of supporting the development of social-emotional skills from a young age. I also realized that I didn’t have that type of support in elementary and middle school, so I decided to be the caring, supportive, motivational person I wish I had had when I was younger, which turned out to be the role of a school counselor!

How have your education and experiences at CSU helped you in your career?

I cannot count the number of times each day that I use the knowledge I gained at CSU in my role. I must constantly make decisions and support students/families based on what I know about adolescent development, family structures, data/research, and most information from the classes I took in HDFS. I also learned an invaluable amount from my fieldwork experiences as a practicum student (turned assistant) at the CSU Early Childhood Center and as an intern with CSU Campus Connections. Those experiences taught me how to bring my classwork to life and use what I know in real-world situations.

Three women in brightly colored clothing embrace in a lush green outdoor setting
Thomas with two colleagues in Rwanda

What advice do you have for students looking to join your field?

Get out there and work with the people you want to be! Take advantage of fieldwork opportunities so that you can be in schools or working with students outside of school (depending on your internship/what specific role you want) and then make good connections and stay in touch with the people in those roles. Relationships mean everything.

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Campus Connections and the Early Childhood Center are programs within theDepartment of Human Development and Family Studies,which is part of CSU’sCollege of Health and Human Sciences.