Young woman showing a folder to an older woman

CPS students awarded minority fellowship

Six graduate students in the College of Education & Human Development’s Department of Counseling and Psychological Services have been named 2017 National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) Minority Fellows.

CEHD doctoral student Vanessa Placeres and graduate students Kaday Kabba Berete, Jessica Carrollton, Torri Johnson, Janelle Jones and Lynn Pierce received the fellowship, which is awarded annually to students who “demonstrate knowledge of and experience with racially and ethnically diverse populations, and commit to providing counseling services to underserved minority transition-age youth (16–25) populations,” according to NBCC’s website.

“This competitive national award recognizes the potential of these students to make significant impact on the profession of counseling and the clients they serve,” said Jonathan Orr, program coordinator in the CEHD’s mental health counseling program. “Simply stated, these are future leaders in our profession and to have so many chosen from our program is a testament to the exceptional students enrolled in our program and to the world-class education they receive here.”

The fellowship is open at the doctoral level or the master’s level, with the latter offering concentrations in either mental health or addictions counseling. This proved an important distinction for Johnson, who was initially turned down for the mental health concentration but received a letter from NBCC encouraging her to apply for the addictions concentration.

“I was really excited to find out that some of my other cohort members were recipients. And I was so grateful and humble when I was awarded the addictions fellowship,” Johnson said. “Valuable lesson: Perseverance is key!”

As fellowship recipients, they will each receive a monetary award – $8,000 for mental health counseling fellows, up to $11,000 for addictions counseling and $20,000 for doctoral fellows – and have the opportunity to network with other graduate level students who are passionate about working with diverse client populations.

Placeres, who is currently researching African-American undergraduate students’ experiences with discrimination and their ability to cope and forgive race-related offenses, believes the fellowship will help as she becomes an advocate, ally and mentor for racial/ethnic minority groups.

“As a Hispanic female, I believe I play an integral role in bridging the gap between racial/ethnic minority groups and service,” she explained. “Through the development of my counseling identity, I have had the opportunity for mentorship that prioritizes multicultural competence and social justice advocacy. These relationships fueled my desire to collaborate with others who feel strongly about bridging the gap between racial/ethnic minorities and proper mental health services.”

For more information about the fellowship, visit