ALTY Student Spotlight | Kaia Jenerette

Kaia Jenerette

“Hood College’s on-campus resources, from career services to mental health support and engaging activities, significantly eased my undergraduate experience and helped me effectively navigate my academic and personal growth.”

Kaia Jenerette '24


  • Counseling, Clinical Mental Health (M.S.)
  • Counseling, School Counseling (M.S.)
  • 4PLUS Psychology (B.A.)/Counseling (M.S.) Program
  • Psychology (B.A.)


  • Psychology & Counseling

Kaia Jenerette is a current undergraduate student at Hood College. She will graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s in psychology, with a minor in sociology. Jenerette has also been admitted into Hood’s M.S. in school counseling program and will begin her master’s studies in fall 2024. During her time as an undergraduate student, Jenerette interned for the Asian American Center of Frederick (AACF) and Frederick County Public School (FCPS). We spoke to Jenerette about her experiences in the psychology major as well as what she is looking forward to in joining the school counseling program.

Could you briefly describe your education and career background?

I obtained my associate degree from Frederick Community College in 2022. After that, I transferred into Hood College’s undergraduate program, and I will graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s in psychology, with a minor in sociology. I currently work with the City of Frederick’s Parks and Recreation Department as a part-time program assistant. I am also interning at Ballenger Creek Middle School as a behavior support specialist.

What got you interested in psychology and counseling? 

As a young woman who lost her father very early, I’ve come to understand the value of having someone available to assist you during times of trauma. Based on my own personal journey, I’ve always had a strong desire to offer support to others facing and navigating similar challenges. I realized my natural inclination for counseling, leading me to pursue psychology as my field of study in college. 

Once enrolled at Hood, I took an introduction to counseling course. It significantly solidified my interest in the field of counseling. Recently, I had an internship shadowing a middle school counselor with Professor Atiya Smith as my adviser, and I found that I derived the most fulfillment working with children in a school setting that emphasizes diversity. This influenced my decision to study school counseling in graduate school.

How have your studies and work in undergraduate psychology been?

I deliberately used my time as an undergraduate student to explore my passions and understand myself better. Upon transferring to Hood College, I focused on delving into specific areas within the counseling field that intrigued me.

Through internships, SPIRES (Scholarship, Performance, Innovation, Research and Experience Symposium) and various classes, I clarified my career path. These experiences not only provided valuable learning opportunities, but they also allowed me to expand my network and gain insights from professionals in the field.

Hood College’s on-campus resources, from career services to mental health support and engaging activities, significantly eased my undergraduate experience and helped me effectively navigate my academic and personal growth.

What were your previous two psychology internships like?

In my first psychology internship at the Asian American Center of Frederick (AACF), I gained valuable community-based and social work experiences. Mentoring children from diverse cultural backgrounds at local high schools and volunteering at community health fairs helped me understand the importance of networking, advocating for others and cultural competency. This experience also highlighted the significance of community support in addressing health and equity issues. Overall, the internship was inspirational and educational, with everyone at AACF being supportive and creating a welcoming environment.

My second psychology internship was with Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) as a school counseling intern, and it further solidified my career choice in school counseling. Assisting with student mediations, academic goal setting, and addressing social and behavioral issues gave me a deeper understanding of the role of a school counselor. The supportive environment of the school, along with the opportunity to work with a diverse group of students, was enriching and confirmed my passion for this field.

At the conclusion of this internship with FCPS, I was offered a position as an assistant behavioral support specialist. I am currently interning in this role, which has provided me with valuable hands-on experience and further solidified my career path in school counseling.

What will you be doing for your current psychology internship?

My current internship position is an assistant behavioral support specialist within FCPS at a local middle school. The primary responsibilities are to actively participate in modifying student plans, conduct behavior interventions with students, and learn about developing and implementing Behavior Intervention Plans. My other responsibilities are to assist in providing constructive feedback to school-based staff on their implementation of behavioral strategies as well as creating written and visual materials for both staff and students.

What has it been like working with Professor Smith?

Working with Professor Smith has been wonderful. She has significantly helped me navigate my personal dreams and aspirations, and she has provided valuable advice on graduate admissions and academic success. Her supportive and encouraging advice helped me explore my career options and understand my true passions.

In addition to her insightful advice, she has also introduced me to opportunities and assisted me in completing tasks that I never would have thought of doing. Her kind and understanding nature made it easy for me to seek help and feel heard. I highly recommend working with Professor Smith if you have the opportunityyou will not regret it.

Do you plan to become a school counselor after getting your master’s degree? 

I plan to graduate with a master’s in school counseling and test for my licensure to be a clinical counselor. After getting my master’s, I plan on becoming a school counselor and using my licensure to work part time in clinical settings to provide help in a multitude of areas.

Would you have any advice to share with Hood students interested in the counseling program?

I would advise them to advocate for themselves and to make connections with professors and other students in Hood’s counseling program. The more connections you make, the more opportunities you’ll have to gain valuable educational experiences and receive assistance in your future endeavors. The staff is here to help, and if you show your interest and drive, it will not go unnoticed.

Are there any fun facts or trivia about yourself that you would like to share?

I am currently heavily involved in two school-based programs within the FCPS system. I serve as a coach for a pep squad at Ballenger Creek Middle School and remain actively engaged in the F.E.M. Power mentoring program at Frederick High School.

Inspired by Kaia’s journey from undergraduate student to aspiring school counselor? Ready to #GOFURTHER in your career? Learn more about Hood College’s graduate programs, such as school counseling, by clicking here.