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Former Bethel Resident Tells Students How Adversity Can Help Them Succeed

Immaculate High School (IHS) is committed to providing a modern college-preparatory, Catholic-based education to its students with the goal of them attending top-rated colleges with confidence about their future paths. One way Immaculate does so is by hosting an annual Career Day for all students so they can consider future careers while preparing for a college program.

Recently the school hosted 27 guest speakers, mostly alumni, who hailed from various fields and careers and talked about their jobs and what it takes to become a professional. Students signed up to hear three speakers that interested them. Careers represented included:  engineering, TV/Video production, marketing, law enforcement, education, Homeland Security, coaching, law, medicine, the military, government relations, sales management and religious life.

Alumnus Jonathan W. Dator, Ph.D. and Associate Director of Training at Providence College's (RI) Student Health Services Personal Counseling Center, was the keynote speaker. Dr. Dator first told students how impactful his IHS teachers were and that they were still important to him today, and that the family-like atmosphere of the school allowed a “shy, introverted boy” to make many friends. Dr. Dator and his family lived in Bethel, CT while attending Immaculate High School.

Dr. Dator then gave the young students advice about deciding their future careers, noting that it is normal to be indecisive and confused at first, but that the key was to ask for advice from others, not be afraid of making changes and don’t hesitate to make decisions. “Exposing yourself to things that are stressful reduces anxiety and moves you forward,” he said.

While a sophomore at college and still not sure what career to pursue, Dr. Dator was diagnosed with a rare, incurable eye disease that left him legally blind. “This was an important part of my life that I think needed to happen on a personal growth level,” he said. He further explained that his diagnosis helped him realize he should not concentrate on what he couldn't do but to focus on what he could do. That led to an interest in psychology and working with children and young adults.  “You can use adversity to figure out what you can and want to do,” Dr. Dator said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help in figuring out what you want to do or be, and have a gameplan, no matter how hard or long it is, and work hard to get there,” Dr. Dator noted. He told them that this is called “grit,” and research has found that grit is the number one indicator of success.

A 2001 graduate of Immaculate High School, Dr. Drator is now a licensed psychologist and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Western Connecticut State University,  Masters & Certificate in Advanced Graduate Study degrees in Counseling from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Multicultural Psychology from Seton Hall University. He has extensive training experience in various college mental health settings and has held leadership positions in the American Psychological Association, the National Latina/o Psychological Association and the New Jersey Psychological Association, and is also Communications Chair, Section on College and University Counseling Centers, Division 17 of the American Psychological Association.  Dr. Dator has focused his training and early career on providing care to disenfranchised, marginalized and underserved groups on college campuses and within the community.

“Immaculate High School is very thankful for and blessed to have our alumni and other members of the Immaculate family spend the morning sharing their stories and mentoring our students,” said Denise Suarez, Director of Alumni Relations. “The faculty, staff and alumni of Immaculate are committed to providing guidance and support to our students to help them confidently plan their futures,” she added.

Immaculate High School is ranked as the third top Catholic High School in Fairfield County and a top ten Best Catholic High School in Connecticut by NICHE. Immaculate has the highest SAT scores in the Diocese of Bridgeport, a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio and provides a three-times return on investment. Over the past several years, IHS has seen a 24% increase in student enrollment. A private, non-profit Catholic college-preparatory institution serving students from 28 communities in Connecticut and New York, Immaculate High School is part of the Diocese of Bridgeport’s parochial school system. For more information, go to www.immaculatehs.org.

PHOTO:  Dr. Dator and his family, who traveled from Florida to see him speak and visit with staff and students of Immaculate High School.

 

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