Pictured together in a conference room of The College of Education (From left to right: Kate Crockett and Katy Towns)
Katy Towns and Kate Crockett are two recent graduates from the Master of Education with a major in Counselor Education program. Kate’s area of focus is in Mental Health Counseling while Katy’s is School Counseling. Now, they reflect back on their time at AU and look forward to the next chapter in their promising careers.
RECEIVING NATIONAL RECOGNITON
Katy and Kate really excelled in the program says Richard Deaner PhD., Program Director for the Master of Education with a major in Counselor Education. Deaner explains, “Both students went above and beyond the requirements of the program while conducting research and presenting at national and regional professional conferences.”
Kate and Katy, along with fellow student Kellyn Brooks competed in the Ethics Team Essay Competition, a Master’s degree level sponsored by the American Counseling Association.
The team responded to the prompt “Application of the Counselor Values-Based Conflict Model: A Case Study” which posed an ethical dilemma for the team to work through using an ethical decision-making model of their choice. Kate explains that “ethical situations are a constant companion of counselors, so this exercise provided us an opportunity to test a model while also receiving guidance from our faculty sponsor.” Read the Jagwire story to learn more about their work.
Receiving the first place award in the competition was a great honor for each student.“ I believe any time an individual is encouraged and affirmed, confidence and self-efficacy grow. Therefore, this award enables me to move forward in my career with a new feeling of validation and passion for facilitating student growth.” expresses Katy.
These students exemplify what the Counselor Education program seeks to inspire in all of their graduate students — competent mental health professionals who engage in social justice advocacy. As a bonus, it is always nice to see them recognized and rewarded for their contributions. “It is an incredibly meaningful award and distinction for our students, program, and university.” Comments, Richard Deaner, PhD (Program Director of the Counselor Education program)
Picture from ACA award ceremony (2nd from left Dr. Lenares-Solomon,Kellyn Brooks,Kate Crockett and Katy Towns)
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
As students, both women served on the board of Augusta University’s local chapter of Chi Sigma Iota (CSI; International Counseling Honor Society), an international honor’s society that promotes a strong professional identity through members who contribute to the realization of a healthy society by fostering wellness and human dignity. Kate served as the President of the local chapter while Katy served as Vice President.
During her tenure as Vice President, Katy developed a mentoring program where CSI members volunteered to mentor newly admitted students in order to support their transition into the program.
Deaner emphasized that both students made a meaningful impact with their engagement with fellow students in the program and through philanthropic activities in the community.
Katy explains,” I believe counselors are advocates for social justice. We advocate for individual and systemic change through the lens of the wellness paradigm.”
EXPRESSING GRATITUDE – MENTORSHIP MATTERS
Both students reflect on the support they received from mentors while in the program:
Kate: I think Dr. Lenares-Solomon absolutely started me on my journey, and I was lucky enough to have her as my advisor. I also utilized Dr. Margaux Brown’s expertise when submitting a proposal on attachment theory and it changed my world. Dr. Brown challenged me to be more systematic in my research. I remember meeting with her to brainstorm for a bit and finding myself both surprised and grateful for the whirlwind of ideas in which she immersed me. She instilled in me the pride in my work and I wanted to try harder to make sure that I was giving my audience the fullest presentation I could give.”
Dr. Lenares-Solmon expressed that she looks forward to the impact that Kate will make in her career, “It has been a great pleasure for me to be an instructor and mentor to Kate Crockett. She is steadfast and dedicated to not only learning the competencies needed for our profession but excels at it. With the growing need for mental health professionals, I am very excited to see the many contributions Ms. Crockett will make in our field.”
Katy: “Dr. Deaner has been a source of encouragement and inspiration throughout my Counselor Education journey. I think I borrowed his faith in me until I refined my own self-efficacy. I entered the program unaware of my tendencies towards perfectionism — which can be debilitating. Dr. Deaner taught me to have the courage to be imperfect. It’s one of the biggest lessons of my life and one I wish to instill in my students as well.”
Dr. Richard Deaner, “(Katy) is a naturally talented counselor and epitomizes the reflective and conscientious practitioner who is able to effectively attend to the diverse needs of clients and students. She aspires to advocate for individuals, groups, and systems in order to promote wellness and social justice…The professional counseling community will be fortunate to have her.”
HEARTFELT REFLECTIONS: MY AU EXPERIENCE
Katy: “It was hard. It was worth it. I am a single mom. I have three young daughters. I could have just done the work and nothing extra. But I wanted to have a diverse academic experience. To do so, I added presentations, competitions, etc. I also grew through personal reflection. It has been physically and emotionally exhausting at times. But I am proud of the work I have done here. I am proud to have modeled for my children the merit of hard work, advocacy, and living a passionate life.”
Kate: “I think I’ll always remember the way in which each professor demonstrates their counseling style in the class. When you’re in the beginning stages of your counseling identity, you want to follow some structured “way” in which to be. Watching them teach and engage students in discussion showed me that there are many ways to be an effective and compassionate professional. It allowed me to feel okay about being me, just as a counselor.”
CONTINUING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE- NEXT STEPS
Both students received job offers prior to graduation.
Kate has accepted a position as a therapist and forensic interviewer for Child Enrichment, Inc. She will work with children who have experienced abuse and neglect in our community. “ I like working for a cause. Ultimately, I want others to experience being heard. People often feel misunderstood and I want to be someone who can prove that isn’t always the case; I hear them and I care, which means others can too.”
Katy will work in a local area elementary school as a school counselor. “My passion for counseling has always been to advocate for kids who are at risk of slipping through the cracks. To me, the best place to do that is in school and early. Therefore, my dream job is to be an elementary school counselor.“I am really looking forward to diving in…I know it will be challenging, but that is when I believe I do my best work.”
Visit the MEd in Counselor Education program page to gain more information about the program.