Finishing up her final semester before earning a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy from Phillips, Dawn McNairy is not your average graduate student. On the contrary, she’s barely a student at all, squeezing in her classwork in the moments when she’s not working full time as a regional sales manager for a national healthcare company. In sales for more than two decades, she is a C-suite regular, as comfortable in the boardroom as she is conducting therapy with a new client. A divorced mother of three, Dawn is also a full-time parent, negotiating the highs and lows of adolescence with her teenage daughters.
And yet, in any conversation with Dawn, it is immediately apparent that along with her love of family, she is most committed to the needs of her psychotherapy clients, and their continued emotional well-being and growth. In fact, it is this passion for caring that led her to plan this major career change in the first place, moving from the life of a busy executive to one as a future Marriage and Family Therapist.
“I have enjoyed being in sales and have learned so much about how our connections with people matter,” she says. “But sales is a high stress environment and I don’t always get to observe the benefit my products give the patients I am helping. I am ready to move into a career that allows me to connect and make more of a direct impact.”
Indeed, her own journey since graduating from the University of California, Berkeley informed this choice. A 6th grade math/science teacher right after college, she quickly burned out on overwhelming constraints and challenges that came with a career in education. Frustrated, she pivoted to a career in pharmaceutical sales. Warm and engaging, her straightforward demeanor and growing expertise ensured a rapid career ascent within the industry.
But it was a divorce and its ensuing personal crises that led her to seek psychotherapy for herself and her family. It proved life changing. Encouraged by her own psychotherapist, Dawn began to consider a career that involved truly making a difference in the lives of others. Among her own friends and family, Dawn was already the person you could talk to about anything, a role she enjoyed and always found incredibly meaningful. What if she made a career out of this passion?
She began to look around at different programs in the Southern California area, and Campbellsville soon became a standout.
“I was so impressed by the warmth and caring I found in the professors, and the in-person program they offered really felt like the perfect fit,” she explains.
Later, she realized her own psychotherapist had also attended the program- a fact that seemed to confirm the rightness of her choice to attend PGI.
A year and a few months later, Dawn is almost finished with her academic career at Phillips Graduate Institute at Campbellsville. Sadly, much of it has been online as a result of the Covid pandemic. While disappointed, she is committed to a future doing in-person psychotherapy with her clients.
“Success for me now is so much more about what I can learn and what I can give back, “she says. “I’m really looking forward to using my MFT degree to make a difference. “