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    Art Institute adds counseling staff

    Sara Reilly counsels a student at the Art Institute of the Inland Empire. Photo by Robert Swapp.

    (SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) She was a Business major at Azusa Pacific University, until she took an “Introduction to Counseling” class. “And immediately,” says Sara Reilly, “I knew the business world wasn’t for me. My heart just wasn’t in it.”

    Reilly, who now lives in Redlands, is the new Counseling and Disability Service director at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire.

    She did complete her B.A. in Business. but with her goals and passion having found new direction, she obtained her Masters last December in Educational Counseling.

    “I found a new and very strong desire to help students,” she adds, “and my life took on a whole new meaning.”

    Working under the Student Affairs Department these past three months has been excitingly active. Reilly had one-on-one sessions with 54 Art Institute students in May, each with a different need, a different problem. “I love that about this job. The student contacts and situations vary each and every day.”

    Reilly doesn’t only rely on students coming to her, however, and “outreach” programs are high on her agenda. There are workshops she directs in stress management, avoiding procrastination, handling success and more.

    “I bring in a lot of guest speakers, too,” she says. “A big part of my job is letting students know what assistance and resources are out there in their own communities, available to anyone in need. Students may be introduced to rape centers, to drugs and alcohol programs, to child care assistance. There’s so much help available that students might otherwise never know exists.”

    Reilly does double-duty, though, with Disability Services a very important part of her responsibilities. In this capacity, she works with teachers who may have students with specialized needs. “For instance, some students may require additional test time,” she explains. Others may not be able to arrive at their next class right on time, some may need to sit extra close or at a distance from the classroom teacher, still others may have unique nutritional needs. Whatever student disabilities call for, it’s her job to handle them.

    “There’s an added benefit to being at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire,” Reilly notes. “In the public school system you drown in paperwork, cutting into potentially meaningful time with students. Here, at a private school, I can spend my time as an academic counselor one hour and a personal advisor the next. I’m here for our 750 students, not simply for the administration or the government.”

    Already, Sara Reilly has her eyes set on more ways to assist students. “We’ve done some reaching out to them, but there has to be more. I can’t simply wait for a student to come to me. Some are too embarrassed to admit they need help, others just may not even know our office exists. In the future I’ll spend more time to introduce them to the vast resources at the school and within the community, for example. I’ll expand the number of workshops, too.” There’s a great deal that any school can do to help their students, but not all administrations realize its importance. The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire does. That’s why they brought in Sara Reilly.

    The Art Institute of California–Inland Empire offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Game Art & Design, Culinary Management, Graphic Design, Web Design & Interactive Media, Interior Design, Fashion and Retail Management and Media Arts & Animation. There are also Associate of Science degrees in Graphic Design and Culinary Arts. Each program is offered on a year-round basis, allowing students to work uninterrupted toward their degrees.

    It’s not too late to start classes. Courses begin July 14, offering day, evening and weekend classes for new and reentry students. For details or a tour of the campus call (909) 915-2100, or go on line to artinstitutes.edu/inlandempire.

    The Art Institute of California-Inland Empire is only one of more than 40 educational institutions within The Art Institutes system, located throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary arts professionals.


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