Nathalie Solius is the first graduate student from Fairfield to be awarded the NBCC Counseling Fellowship to support her pursuit to create a positive difference for transition-age youth.
Mental health doesn’t mean mental illness...There is a lot of fear and I want to help people understand that it’s OK to ask for help.
— Clinical mental health graduate student, Nathalie Solius
What started out as an application to an organization she initially didn’t know much about, Nathalie Solius, a student of Fairfield’s Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions, was selected as a recipient of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Minority Fellowship Program. As an NBCC fellow, Nathalie will receive funding and training to support her education and desire to serve minority populations, with a specific focus on transition-age youth. The Foundation received about 200 applications, in which only 30 individuals across the nation were selected to receive the fellowship award.
The NBCC Foundation is the nonprofit affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). NBCC is the nation’s premier professional certification board devoted to credentialing counselors who meet standards for the general and specialty practices of professional counseling. The purpose of this specific fellowship is to reduce health disparities and improve behavioral health care outcomes for racially and ethnically diverse populations by increasing the number of culturally competent behavioral health professionals.
Nathalie is a graduate of Pace University and is currently pursuing a master’s in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at Fairfield University, which she hopes to complete in May of 2019. When choosing a school for her graduate degree, Nathalie said she connected most with Fairfield’s program.
“Ever since I entered the field and started working at Four Winds Hospital in Katonah, NY in the adolescent unit, I wanted to help teens and young adults,” said Nathalie. “That stage of life is just so important…it helps shape who you become in your future and can be such a hard time with so many changes going on in your body, social changes, and changes at school. It’s a crucial time for growth when teens become their own person and develop their own identity.”
According to Tracey Robert, PhD, professor of counselor education and Nathalie’s faculty advisor, "Nathalie is a very strong student in that she’s eager to learn. She regularly shares her personal experiences in class and raises important questions. The people she works with love her. Nathalie is someone who is going to make a difference in helping families and children.”
Upon graduation, Nathalie intends to continue providing mental health services to transition-aged minority youth in her community. She hopes to provide them with better access to care and to lessen the taboo surrounding mental health care in immigrant and minority communities.
“I definitely think there is still a taboo around mental health,” said Nathalie. “Mental health doesn’t mean mental illness. In the Carribean community, for example, there is a huge stigma around mental illness. There is a lot of fear and I want to help people understand that it’s OK to ask for help.”
Earning this fellowship will allow Nathalie to complete her graduate education and provide her with more access to like-minded professionals from whom she can gain and share knowledge to bring back into her own community.