Justin Shooks, a graduate of Georgia Highlands College (GHC), has taken the next step in his career by accepting the role as a counselor at Lindley Middle School (LMS) in Mableton.
Shooks initially planned to become a teacher as he began earning his Associate Degree in Middle Education from GHC, but during his second year he decided to transition into a focus on counseling.
“Throughout grade school and high school, I didn’t really understand the importance of college,” Shooks said. “When I went to college, I wanted to pursue something I was passionate about.”
As a middle school counselor, Shooks applies what he has learned inside and outside the classroom to help students at LMS be successful.
“The reason I wanted to become a counselor is because I had a lot of the same experiences growing up,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of male counselors out there, and it’s important to find someone students can identify with.”
It was at GHC where Shooks began growing a passion for counseling and helping others, becoming involved in GHAME and Brother 2 Brother. Although he initially was focused on working and making money while not in class, the allure of a free T-shirt was what let him to visit a meeting of the registered student organization.
“Ever since I have been hooked,” Shooks said. “Brother 2 Brother introduced me to a lot of people, and it is where I learned a lot of things, like how to tie a tie.”
Shooks has participated in community-based events with Brother 2 Brother, including the annual GHC Foundation Camp.
While he is no longer a student, Shooks has fond memories of his time at GHC’s Pauling site, often studying and working in the library as he went on to earn a Bachelor of Integrated Studies at Kennesaw State University and a master’s degree from Liberty University’s School of Counseling.
Shooks also served as a counseling intern at GHC before working at LMS and said through the internship he was able to recognize and apply his strengths toward his role as a counselor.
He said his time at GHC helped him establish a foundation for his ongoing educational and professional endeavors.
“I grew at Georgia Highlands College,” Shooks said. “When I went there, I was exposed to a lot of challenges, but at the same time I had a lot of support, with a lot of teachers who knew me by my name and who cared about me.”