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School Counseling Student Association practices the inclusivity it preaches

Falcon News Service

January 31, 2018

It’s spring semester Involvement Day, and the upper level of the University Center is filled with student organizations hoping to gain members. One unique organization, however, is missing.

A short stroll from the University Center is the Educational Technology Center in the Wyman Education Building. As the late-afternoon sun begins setting, one would likely find graduate students gathering in groups.

Within these groups are members preparing to support the future leaders of America: the School Counseling Student Association.

This organization is different in that all graduate students enrolled in master’s of science in education for school counseling program are automatically members of the organization.

“Technically, anyone can come to any of our events, but we are so unique in that we’re really just helping school counseling students,” said Caroline Baker, assistant professor for the counseling program and faculty adviser for the organization.

Baker also said that a group of students started the organization nine years ago. It currently has approximately 60 members, 20 of whom are very active.

The organization has six student leaders. These include two co-presidents, liaisons to the Minnesota and Wisconsin school counseling associations, a secretary and treasurer. However, unlike other student organizations, they do not hold elections. Whoever is interested in becoming a student leader simply steps into that role.

While the organization hosts events throughout the year, many of its events occur during the spring semester. These include activities during the annual National School Counseling Week in February to spread the positive message of school counseling and connect with alumni and friends.

“This year is the program’s 50th anniversary, so the students will host an alumni and friends event on that Saturday (Feb. 3),” Baker said. “We are hoping we have people that graduated years and years ago, professors who have retired, and a lot of different people come. The student group is responsible for helping ensure that event goes smoothly.”

Abbie Williams, co-president, said that one of the goals of the organization is interacting with stakeholders.

“Faculty, friends of the program, current students, alumni — they talk about ways, in general, to help our school counseling program as a whole,” Williams said. “One of the biggest things that they have done for the program, in the past, was bring awareness to the program and really push the fact that the program could use scholarships. We went from having one scholarship to having five scholarships.”

In addition to stakeholders, the main goal of the organization is networking, said Brittany Llewelyn, co-president.

“At our most recent student group meeting we had Dr. Gary Campbell come talk to students, which was beneficial. He is a friend of the program, not an alumni, but he is a school counselor at the middle school here in town. He helps out a lot with practicum and internship supervision and is a part of our stakeholder’s group.”

The group also aims to encourage counseling program alumni to participate with current students.

“The biggest way that alumni are involved in the organization is by having internship or practicum students. By recognizing requirements that come out of our courses and being willing to give their time back to the program,” added Williams.

While alumni and stakeholders are a major source of support for students in the counseling program, faculty contribute as well.

Llewelyn said that her time in the organization has certainly helped her develop a support network with her professors. “I have been able to develop a different kind of relationship with my professors by working closely with them.”

Both Llewelyn and Williams are devoted to supporting the organization and its purpose through recruiting. “I really love recruiting, so telling people that we have this event coming up and we could use a few extra hands if you’re available,” Llewelyn said.

The organization has also had a personal effect for Llewelyn.

“For me, being the co-president and being able to talk to alumni has really helped me calm down a little about what’s going to happen after graduation,” she said. “I feel more confident knowing that there will be something out there.”

As another semester starts, the organization and its leadership aim to support those who support the future leaders of America as best they can.

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