On February 27, 2021, three students from South University’s Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (“CMHC”) program presented at the VACES (Virginia Association for Counselor Education and Supervision) Conference. VACES is a state affiliate of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES) and a division of the Virginia Counselors Association (VCA). The purpose of VACES is to improve the training and supervision of those engaged in counseling and student development and to provide a vehicle for ensuring cooperation and communications between those concerned with counselor education and supervision in Virginia.
VACES hosts a research conference annually. This year, we had three of our South University students attend and present. Presenters from South University included: Pranti Walker from the Richmond Campus, sponsored by Dr. Tiffanie Sutherlin, and Don Johnson and Markesha Evans from the Virginia Beach Campus, both sponsored by Dr. Susanne Preston-Josey (CMHC Program Director from the Virginia Beach Campus). Pranti Walker presented on “An Examination of the Effects of Spirituality and/or Religion for African Americans and Its Impact on Their Mental Health.” This presentation focused on the importance of spirituality and/or religion as it pertains to the Black Community. Don Johnson presented on “Becoming a Counselor Later in Life; Benefits and Obstacles” where he explored the rewards and challenges for those entering the counseling field after having already lived through a career and a great deal of life experiences. Markesha Evans presented on “Back to Basics: Mental Health in Today’s Social Climate” focusing on implementing self-care, prioritizing cultural competency/humility, and effecting change through counseling.
In addition to student participation, Dr. Aimee Brickner (CMHC Program Director from the Richmond campus) was a member of the VACES conference committee. Dr. Brickner coordinated the process of evaluating student submissions, facilitated communication between the VACES conference committee and student presenters and their faculty sponsors, and moderated sessions the day of the conference.
There were many other great presentations that presented along with the students from South University, giving everyone the opportunity to become more knowledgeable on a wide range of topics as well as an opportunity to network with other counselors in VA.