Alumni Spotlight

Trusting an Instinct

Alumnus finds career and companionship through counseling program

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By trusting his instinct, alumnus, Gregorio Cognetto was able to call OU home and earn a degree in school counseling, enabling him to help make the world a better place. (Photo Credit: James Silvestri)

icon of a calendarJanuary 14, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Trevor Tyle

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When Gregorio Cognetto first set foot on Oakland University’s campus in 2015, he instantly felt at home.

Having recently graduated from Western Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology concentrated in social psychology, Cognetto decided to further his education. A Clinton Township native, Cognetto was initially drawn to OU because of its convenient location, but it was ultimately the welcoming environment that inspired him to enroll. 

“The campus is beautifully surrounded by nature, which was a comforting feeling for me,” he said, “and the people that I met at OU were kind and inviting. I believe that it is important to trust how you feel, where you are.”

During his time at OU, Cognetto pursued a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, which he completed in 2017. In that timeframe, he was also an active member of Chi Sigma Iota, an international honor society that recognizes excellence in counseling, both academically and professionally.

“I decided to pursue a degree in counseling because I believed, and still believe, that counselors are key players in making the world a better place,” he said. “I aspire to help end the stigma of counseling and normalize talking about how we are feeling and whatever it is that is on our mind.”

One of Cognetto’s fondest memories of OU is the unlikely friendship he found in three other members of the campus community — Mark, Vince and Ryan — who allowed him to “be vulnerable, talk about how [he] was feeling and share whatever it was that was on [his] mind with them.” He saw their conversations as an opportunity to reflect and collaborate, which proved crucial to his ability to evolve as a counselor. Nearly five years later, Cognetto still regularly sees them, noting that, had it not been for the counseling program, they never would have connected. 

As a graduate student, Cognetto interned for the Birmingham Public School district, eventually leading to his current position as a wellness counselor for Groves High School. He previously worked as an elementary school counselor for four years, during which time he developed a mindfulness and meditation curriculum that was recognized as an effective practice in Oakland County. 

Cognetto credits much of his career’s success to the hands-on opportunities that were incorporated into OU’s counseling curriculum, allowing him to grow both personally and professionally. 

“My experiences spending time with children during practicum at the [on-campus] Counseling Center challenged and inspired me to work with and learn from young children,” he said. “OU provided me with an opportunity to be creative, be myself and speak freely on what I was passionate about, which has helped me gain the confidence to be my best self while at work and in the community.” 

For additional information on the counseling programs available at OU, visit

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