Fairfield University's Counselor Education department honors graduates in special ceremony that celebrates "Connections"



In an intimate ceremony held only days before FairImage: Diana Hulsefield University's official commencement, twenty-four 2010 graduates of the counselor education department in the School of Graduate Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) were individually honored by department chairman, Dr. Diana Hulse and their professors, Dr. Virginia Kelly, Dr. Tracey Robert and Dr. Bogusia Skudrzyk.

The Graduation Celebration Ceremony, held in May at Alumni House on the Fairfield campus and initiated this year as a new tradition by Hulse, was co-sponsored by Gamma Lambda Chi, the Fairfield chapter of the international honor society Chi Sigma Iota, and was designed to honor all counselor education graduates. It also recognized the invaluable contributions of the clinical coordinator Bob Schmidt and the graduates' campus and on-site supervisors, all of whom were presented with certificates of appreciation.

Hulse explained that the essence of the new event is threefold, "to recognize each graduate's achievement with much-deserved applause, to honor each graduate's commitment to the program and to invite each faculty member to introduce graduates with whom they worked closely and speak personally about each graduate and his or her accomplishments."

Of the twenty-four 2010 graduates, eighteen graduates were in attendance as were their families, Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., president, Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., senior vice president for academic affairs, GSEAP faculty and staff, friends of the graduates and representatives of the University administration.

Chi Sigma Iota member and a planner for the event Steve Rosati (Darien), spoke glowingly about this new tradition, "From the beginning, I knew this ceremony was going to be a gloriously unique opportunity. It was a way for the graduates to have a voice and a platform with which to share their gratitude toward the faculty, family and friends in a truly personalized setting."

Three graduates were presented with honors: Barbara Blau (Weston) as outstanding school counseling graduate, Nancy DeKraker (Westport) as outstanding community counseling graduate and Marisa Sgro (Stamford) for outstanding service.

Hulse declared, "These graduates excelled in their course of study and it was important to acknowledge the strong sense of community they developed all the way through the Fairfield University program. They will carry the relationship skills they have honed with them as they work in their field. Relationships are the cornerstone of the counseling profession and we felt that it was crucial to invite family members as well as University personnel to experience the generosity of spirit this program offers."

Blau, who was president of Chi Sigma Iota received the graduate student Loyola medal and holds the record nationwide for the highest score ever received on the National Board for Certified Counselor's (NBCC) standardized comprehensive examination, the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination (CPCE). The Loyola medal recognizes a student who maximizes opportunities for emotional, social and intellectual growth. It is awarded to one graduate and one undergraduate student upon the completion of a degree.

Rosati, who will graduate next year, said of the program, "In this program, students and faculty members truly connect. There is a genuine value in the relationship and process. Content is vital, but process appears to be an aspect that is particularly strong." 

Graduates were from three classes: summer 2009, fall 2009, and spring 2010. They hail from Norwalk, Weston, Westport, Stamford, Cheshire, Danbury, Fairfield, Beacon Falls, among other cities and towns.

With state approval, the counselor education department recently changed its master's degree track community counseling name to "clinical mental health counseling." The new track, supported by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), requires a minimum of 60 credits - up from 48 - for the master's program. It prepares candidates for work in a variety of human service settings, including clinical mental health counseling, career, substance abuse and crisis counseling centers. The program also provides excellent opportunities for internships, research and postgraduate employment.

In addition to the CMHC degree, the department also offers the master of arts degree in school counseling. The 48-hour counseling program prepares graduates to work in elementary, middle and secondary schools.

"This new program meets nationally revised standards for clinical practice and state licensure requirements. Graduates of our new program will be able to make a seamless transition to practice as licensed eligible counselors," declared chairman Hulse.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on June 30, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 316