Thanks to Longwood the College of Graduate and Professional Studies, I was able to attend and present at the Virginia Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (VACES) conference! This was a one day conference in Norfolk, VA at Old Dominion University where all presenters were counseling students. It was a great experience to see the work my peers were doing and to experience presenting professionally for the first time. Unfortunately, I pulled the earliest time slot to present but we made it through! My work was entitled: Advocating for Atheist Clients in the Counseling Profession and is a presentation I hope to take to other conferences and have published as well. Thank you Longwood, CGPS, and all of the Counseling Department for your support and this opportunity.
I had the pleasure of attending and presenting a poster at the 2016 Virginia Counselors Association (VCA) Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia. The conference was excellent overall, and particularly in the focus on LGBTQ related issues and in social justice issues faced in the counseling profession today. My presentation, about trauma assessment measures that are commonly used with children, was well received. It was particularly rewarding to have conversations about this with fellow professionals in the field who do similar work to my work in the school system. The ability to share ideas with these people was the most powerful thing that happened at the conference. The exchange of immediately useful ideas and information changed how I respond to a couple of common daily occurrences at my school.
Spending time with the professors, alumni, and current graduate students at the school was another positive. It was enlightening to have professional and personal conversations with people and to talk about where the Longwood program has been and where it is going.
On November 9-12, 2016 the Virginia Counselor’s Association Convention took place in Williamsburg, VA. The event included two keynote speakers, Kevin Hines and Dr. Michael Gillette, and nine education sessions, each with multiple sessions attendees could choose from. Four Longwood students currently in the program-Chris Barnes, Jessica Hamlett, Brittany Bishop, and Cameron Patterson-joined many Longwood Alumni and Counselor Education faculty for the weekend. Chris Barnes and Cameron Patterson were both honored as VCA student fellows and Barnes presented a poster on assessing trauma in children. Dr. McCleskey, Dr. Wynne, and alum Amrita Sethi collaborated to present a session on counselors working as allies for LGBTQQI clients and students. Dr. Doyle presented updates from the Virginia Board of Counseling. The event was a great success for Longwood University in education and representation. The next convention will take place November 9-11, 2017 at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, VA. All Counselor Education students, faculty, and alumni are encouraged to attend and represent Longwood!
On October 12th I had the opportunity to present alongside Dana Kieran, Associate Director for Disability Resources and Dr. Lauren Wynn Assistant Professor for Counselor Education at the Virginia School Counselor’s Conference. It was a great experience to present as it was a goal of mine prior to graduating from my program.
Our presentation focused on how school counselors and disability service providers can collaborate to assist students with their transition to the post secondary environment. For our presentation we started out with an activity that helped individuals think of barriers to the postsecondary environment that might exist for students with disabilities. We then began to talk about the challenges that students face in their new academic environment along with the changes to various relationships that they might have had previously.
The main portion of our presentation that really created conversation amongst the counseling professionals in the room was an explanation of the differences between the secondary and postsecondary environments when accommodating students with disabilities. And then we ended with a conversation about what it means for students to be college ready. This presentation proved to be a great learning experience for me and my colleagues. I believe that we began a very substantive conversation about how we can better prepare students for a postsecondary transition. Also professionally it was great to network with various folks in the field. I was able to receive a few invitations to do some follow-up presentations for various school systems and non-profit groups.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to use what I have been learning in the classroom and combine it with the work that I’m currently doing in my role with Disability Resources. Thanks Graduate Studies for the opportunity.
I had such a wonderful experience at the Virginia School Counseling Association (VSCA) Conference! The theme this year was “Creating Connections”, and I definitely made some amazing connections thanks to my amazing professor, Dr. Wynne (pictured here taking a selfie with me!). She introduced me to everyone it seemed like! I was so grateful to have her there as a guide and resource. I began the conference with a pre-conference session on working with LGBTQ+ youth by Charles Dyson. It was extremely interesting, and I learned new information, such as the prevalence of an individual being born intersex is the same as those being born with red hair. I was able to meet several school counselors and administrators at the President’s reception that night. The next day was full of many sessions ranging from classroom management to yoga guidance classroom lessons. The last day we had a lunch with keynote speaker Gayle Danley. She is a slam poet, and her poems left everyone speechless. She was so powerful with her words. This experience is one I will never forget. I am so thankful that I was able to attend, and hope to in the years to come.
Earlier this month I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The 2016 annual conference brought together over 3,200 current and future higher education advisers, and is the largest academic conference in the western hemisphere! During my time at the conference I was able to attend several sessions covering a variety of topics and issues in higher education advising. I also had the privilege of presenting with Longwood’s Counselor Education Professor, Dr. Quentin Alexander, during the conference. Our presentation, “Understanding Our Privilege within the Context of an Academic Advising Relationship”, we discussed the various forms of privilege in our society, and how our privilege has impact within the context of the academic advising relationship with students. The framework for our discussion around privilege was built from the work of Peggy McIntosh and others who have researched topics of privilege and oppression. Throughout the presentation, we engaged in lively conversation with our audience on understanding privilege, recognizing our privilege as advisers, and understanding how this can impact the advising relationship. At the conference, our presentation was selected as LGBTQA commission-sponsored session, because it reflected information that is particularly representative of the sponsoring commission’s interests. I would like to thank Longwood’s College of Graduate and Professional Studies for providing a travel grant to assist with the cost of this amazing opportunity!
I recently took a study abroad class and traveled to London, Normandy, and Paris. It was really interesting to me to learn more about World War II and also to do a cultural comparison of sorts between the United States and the places we visited. In touring London, we were shown churches that still have visible exterior damage from the war and were told vivid stories of times when the city was under attack as we visited Winston Churchill’s underground command post for example. In the region of Normandy, we visited the American Cemetery and Omaha Beach and to the extent possible, were able to reflect on the profound sacrifices made by all of the soldiers who fought on the beach and were laid to rest in the cemetery as well as the hundreds of thousands of others who fought and sacrificed themselves as well. In Paris, it was very interesting as I noticed the somewhat stark contrast between my experience there and in London. The language barrier aside, I found it less comforting to be around a group of people whom I could not truly relate to, unlike Londoners who spoke my language, follow soccer just as I do, have seen NFL games, etc. However, I think this experience is the very essence of studying abroad. I spoke to a number of citizens while abroad; some of whom had similar thoughts as my own about some issues and others whose experience was entirely different from what I have encountered in my life. In reflecting on the great trauma and impact that World War II had on the places we visited, I really did find a great sense of appreciation and fortune to have the opportunities I have been afforded in no small part due to the actions of the many individuals who played a part in the war. Also, in truly being a foreigner for the first time in my life, I thought about how fortunate I have been to be able to grow up the way I have in my environment. I am glad that I had this experience because it helped me get outside of my comfort zone and hopefully, has helped me gain a different insight that will allow me to relate to different individuals in their varied experiences.
I attended the Supporting Diverse Gender Youth training at Lynchburg College. This training was sponsored by the Virginia Counseling Association. The facilitator was Dr. Laura Farmer, Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech and the President of the VA-ALGBTIC which is a sub group of the Virginia Counseling Association. Dr. Farmer teaches ethics courses at Virginia Tech so she made that the foundation of the training that she presented. The training featured faculty members, graduate students, community providers, and school counselors. The training allowed us to look at gender issues from a number of different elements. We first focused on laying the foundation. In laying the foundation Dr. Farmer made sure that we all had a base understanding of gender related terminology. We each were given a sheet and encouraged to get into groups to link definitions to various terms. With this activity even seasoned professionals had their struggles. It made me realize that no matter how long we spend in the profession there is always room to learn and better ourselves. Next we talked about the areas of competence that we would need as professionals in our work with gender diverse students. The final elements that helped to tie things together included a discussion of best practices, ethical considerations, and ways in which we can improve our school and work environments. This was the most beneficial element of the day as it allowed many folks in the room to share experiences specific to their work environment.
I recently attended the conference Supporting Gender Diverse Youth which was held at Lynchburg College and facilitated by Dr. Laura Farmer. The points of focus that were really helpful to me were introduction to terminology, ethical and values-based considerations, and best counseling practices as they pertained to counselors and their interaction with youth who identify as LGBTQ. It’s important to have a working knowledge of LGBTQ issues and concerns but it’s also important to work towards developing an appropriate manner of interacting with LGBTQ individuals so as to contribute to an overall accepting environment.
I found the introduction to terminology to be very important because I identified with the notion that was discussed in that many people are unaware of how to speak to individuals who identify or may be considering identifying as members of the LGBTQ population. We discussed terms that are no longer appropriate and a breadth of terms that recognize individuals with identities that I have never been introduced to before. Most importantly in my opinion, we discussed the value of merely asking individuals “how do you identify?” if we are unsure of how to speak to them or are unsure of how they identify. Sometimes, it may not be as vital to be well-versed in LGBTQ terminology so much as it is to show positive regard towards individuals and a willingness to learn.
Much of the conference was directed with consideration to the practice of school counseling but the implications can be applied to multiple settings. Practices that support LGBTQ youth include respecting their gender identity and expression, using their chosen names, ensuring they are allowed to fully participate in school in ways that are consistent with their gender identity, and to prioritize student privacy. These practices reinforce the need to allow individuals to choose how they are to be a part of their environment and for the people around them to not make impositions upon them instead. For all people who interact with LGBTQ individuals, it is critical to allow them to express themselves and not impose our values upon them if we are to truly create an inclusive environment.
At the conclusion of the conference, we all talked about what we learned and how we can advocate for members of the LGBTQ population whether or not we are in direct contact with LGBTQ individuals in our roles as counselors. Attending this conference was very helpful because it gave me exposure to a population that I did not have much knowledge about but it also helped me learn how best to help this population and advocate on their behalf. Having the basic knowledge that I now have from attending this conference, I feel much more comfortable in terms of my ability to interact with LGBTQ individuals in a counseling role and feel that through continued education, I can really strengthen my competence in this area.
I was fortunate to have the chance to travel to the 2015 Virginia Counselors Association Conference. It was truly a pleasure to share this time with the many Longwood students, professors, and alumnus in attendance, as you can see in this photo. There were two significant highlights of the presentations for me. The first was getting a chance to hear Dr. David Kaplan from the ACA talk about the profession as we move forward and the many changes that are coming in accreditation and licensure. This was a reassurance that Longwood is moving in the right direction without leaving behind our alums and current students. Secondly, I was intrigued by how brain development and the biology of the brain was interwoven into so many of the presentations I was able to attend. This is a particular area of interest for me, and seeing that it is becoming a focus of the profession is propelling me to learn more going forward.