But her dream of working with school-age children affected by depression, anxiety, trauma or a host of other potential conditions requiring therapeutic intervention propelled her to return to UALR for a master of art degree in social work.
Before she had even walked across the stage to receive her degree in May 2013, Collias was hired as a school-based therapist in the Cabot School District where she had earlier completed an internship.
While there, Collias worked 24 hours each week for course credit while shadowing another therapist, gaining invaluable experience in understanding behavioral issues affecting children.
Now Collias is a member of a team at Families Inc., which contracts with the Cabot School District to provide services for students and families in 13 elementary schools, four middle schools, two junior high schools and Cabot High School, as well as a ninth grade center that is opening up this fall.
“Even though I work with both children and adults, kids are my passion,” Collias said. “To see them do better and enjoying life again … that’s the part that is so rewarding.”
Referrals usually come through primary physicians, teachers, and parents seeking help for their children. Collias has spent this summer making home visits and seeing children in her Jacksonville-based office, but will transition to school-based visits with the start of the new academic year.
“I’ve never felt more prepared for the real-world than I do now,” said Collias.
“The UALR faculty push you to the limit, but it all makes sense now. Because of the experiences I gained while at UALR, I received my dream job.”