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Student Spotlight: MACMHC Grad Dyrek Chowning


For this month’s Student Spotlight, CTS proudly celebrates the achievements and journey of Dyrek Chowning, a December graduate of the Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. Dyrek’s path to CTS and his transformative experience within the program exemplify the values of self-exploration, community, and compassion that promote healing and wholeness.

Dyrek’s journey to CTS was serendipitous, a convergence of personal growth and divine guidance. “I really stumbled upon CTS,” Dyrek reflects. “I did not go into counseling in my undergrad. I thought I wanted to be a physical trainer.” However, a chance encounter with CTS alumnus Ronnie Bell (MDiv ’16) led Dyrek on a new path. “Ronnie started talking to me, and he told me he felt I had some gifts for pastoral leadership,” Dyrek recalls. Inspired by Ronnie’s insight and drawn to the holistic approach of CTS, Dyrek applied to the counseling program and embarked on a journey of self-discovery and professional growth.

Reflecting on his time at CTS, Dyrek emphasizes the program’s unique emphasis on self-exploration and personal growth. “CTS is incredibly unique,” Dyrek notes. “There is so much self-exploration, so much focus on the self of the therapist.” The curriculum, supervision, and requirement for students to undergo their own therapy sessions have been instrumental in Dyrek’s development as a counselor. “CTS has been a life-changing experience,” Dyrek shares. “I’ve grown more in the past 4-5 years of my life than ever before.”

As a resident therapist at the CTS Counseling Center, Dyrek continues to apply the knowledge and skills gained from his time at CTS. Working with a diverse range of clients, from school-aged children to adults, Dyrek finds fulfillment in helping others navigate their journey towards healing and wholeness. He recognizes that therapists carry a significant load in helping clients navigate that journey. “The work of counseling is demanding but increasingly in demand,” Dyrek reflects. “If you’re called to be a therapist, you have to give yourself grace.” He deeply believes the work is important and worth the effort and self-care it requires.

Looking ahead, Dyrek encourages prospective students to embrace the transformative journey offered by the CTS counseling program. “Come and really get to know yourself,” Dyrek advises. “In the long run, it is better. You might shed tears working through an assignment because of how reflective the work may be. Even then, those are tears of growth and self-discovery.”

Dyrek’s experience at CTS has been shaped not only by the academic curriculum but also by the supportive community of peers and faculty. “The cohort experience has been big for me,” Dyrek shares. “I started off pretty shy, pretty reluctant to engage. But by the end of it, I was able to open up and share my journey with others.”

As Dyrek prepares to walk at the Commencement ceremony in May 2024, he carries with him the lessons learned and the relationships forged during his time at CTS. His commitment to compassion, self-reflection, and community promotes the value of healing and wholeness upheld by Christian Theological Seminary, inspiring future generations of counselors to make a difference in the lives of others and transforming our world for good.