Children are often quite observant. They watch, listen and mimic the actions of others. As a young girl, Suzan Gallucci spent much of her time observing others after moving to the United States.This observant nature led her to view hard work and a strong focus as tools to move forward in life – a mentality that led her to Hodges University.
“My journey to Hodges began in my childhood, a childhood challenged by war. My family was fortunate to escape from war-torn Europe. After some time, we settled in the United States. Now we were here in a new country, needing to learn a new language and my father needing to find work. These were big adjustments. I was a 9 year old, who was observing and trying to make sense of the new world we were blessed to arrive in,” she said.
Spending much of her life in Ohio, Gallucci devoted herself to learning new skills and taking advantage of various opportunities, which led her in the direction of social action. As a woman ins ociety, she spent her time advocating for the equal rights of women, creating and publishing a magazine devoted to empowering women, as well as working with various political candidates.
During the 1980s, while balancing a family and the publishing world, she decided to enroll at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio. It was during this time she became interested in psychology, saying, “I attended a seminar put on by Dr. Albert Ellis, a world-famous psychologist. He wrote the book, ‘A Guide to Rational Living.’ I just remember being so captivated by what he was saying,and it truly made a big impact on me.”
The impact was so strong that although occurrences in life kept her from finishing her bachelor’s degree, she never lost the desire to earn a degree and pursue a career in the mental health field.
Owning a small condominium in Southwest Florida, Gallucci decided after many years to leave Ohio and settle down in Naples. This decision opened a door for her to complete her dream of earning a degree.
“Hodges was near my home and enrolling was not complicated. The admission process was smooth and easy,and the people were so nice,” she said.
Completing her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in 2010, she wasted no time enrolling in Hodges’ clinical mental health counseling program in 2011, saying, “I saw the possibility of realizing my dream.”
Admitting her time at Hodges allowed her to “expand my awareness through students who were part of a very diverse population,” she quickly realized attending Hodges was the right decision. This decision was solidified after observing her professors, especially Dr. Tom Hofmann. Believing him to be an “amazing professor,” she was inspired by how he shared difficult personal experiences from his own life, which he had overcome. “He became symbolic for me in that we can all reach our destination,” she said.
While interning with Catholic Charities and Jewish Family and Community Services, Gallucci noticed how individuals who are new to the United States have a lack of understanding when it comes to “our culture,” saying, “New arrivals have very little information available to them in how our culture could be different than the culture of their origin. The only way for them to be provided this information would be from friend’s hearsay or unfounded gossip, which may ultimately create a skewed reality.”
As part of the psychosocial portion of her degree program, and in an effort to address this issue among immigrants, Gallucci created the America Cultural Competency seminar at Catholic Charities as a way to teach American culture to individuals immigrating to Naples.Generating a panel of experts (finance,education, investments, contracts), she invited Dr. Cynthia Gomez, adjunct faculty member at Hodges University.
“Professor Gomez is highly qualified to speak on the American education system and what parents can do to help their children be successful,” she said.
Graduating in 2013, Gallucci is a clinical mental health counselor with her own private practice in Naples. Her specialties include relationship issues, as well as helping individuals who are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), grief and trauma.She is also certified in domestic abuse and domestic violence counseling.
“It is so rewarding to be able to help others find peace in their hearts and to help them live out their lives in contentment,” she said.
In addition to her private practice, Gallucci is member of the American Counseling Association, Mental Health Association of Southwest Florida and American Red Cross Disaster Services – Florida Southwestern Gulf Region. She previously served as a board member of the Gulfcoast Mental Health Counselors,Inc. from 2012 to 2016.
“My yearning for a university degree was finally answered at Hodges. My private counseling practice continues to expand, and my consciousness and awareness continues to grow. My additional learning at Hodges has provided me with skills to serve my clients more fully. My appreciation and gratitude goes out to Hodges University. It is never too late to accomplish your goals. In the words of Winston Churchill ‘never, never,never give up.’”