2023 Master's Fellows
Meet the 35 mental health counseling master's students named as 2023 NBCC Foundation MFP Fellows.
Mental Health Counseling Master's Fellows
Each MFP mental health counseling master's fellow will receive $10,000 to support their counseling education and to recognize their commitment to underserved and underrepresented communities.
Victoria Jessica Alaniz (she/her) – Austin, Texas
Victoria Alaniz is a graduate of Texas State University and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at St. Edward's University.
Victoria is driven, passionate, and committed to making a difference in her community and addressing the mental health disparities faced by marginalized populations. As a first-generation Latina master's student who grew up in a low-income family in the Rio Grande Valley, she has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by underserved communities. Through her professional experiences in Parks and Recreation, substitute teaching, and her current involvement in the Libraries for Health initiative, she has witnessed firsthand the impact of poverty and trauma on the mental well-being of individuals and families.
After graduation, Victoria's goal is to provide accessible mental health services to her community utilizing a sliding scale and volunteering her time to overcome the barriers to affordable health care. She aspires to transform the Rio Grande Valley's outlook on mental health by raising awareness and taking action. With the NBCC Minority Fellowship to support her in this journey, Victoria recognizes the invaluable opportunity it provides to enhance her skills and knowledge in counseling while enabling her to be a catalyst for change in her community.
Victoria Ardines (she/her, she/they) – Raleigh, North Carolina
Victoria Ardines is a graduate of Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina, and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at North Carolina State University.
Victoria has a passion for advocating for those who have unseen or seen painful experiences and have buried their pain due to systems that do not foster the mental wellness of individuals including those with disabilities and chronic pain. After graduation, Victoria intends to work with the Latinx and Black communities, migrants, and those with chronic pain, disabilities, and illnesses. Long term, she wants to effect policy change for oppressed migrant communities to receive mental health care, play therapy for children who have experienced trauma, and counseling services for those of all ages with chronic pain, providing affordable services. As a proud Afro-Latinx, she wants to implement her focus from her culture on resiliency and healing. Her goal is to find a new passageway in healing and viewing trauma. This fellowship will provide the connections and training to prepare them in powerful ways for the interconnectedness of all her passions and impact many lives.
Romuladus Emeka Azuine (he/his) – Riverdale Park, Maryland
Romuladus Emeka Azuine is a graduate of Kingston University and St George's Hospital Medical School, University of London, and Howard University. He is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Bowie State University.
After graduation, Romuladus hopes to work with underserved marginalized communities in Prince George's County, Maryland, leveraging Global Health and Education Projects, Inc., a nonprofit organization he founded 11 years ago. He is interested in the health of African Americans. Within this group, he is passionate about the mental health of children, adolescents, mothers, and families. The mental health needs of immigrants, refugees, and African diaspora populations who bear the burden of unresolved trauma and immigration-related violence will be the focus of his practice.
Within the African diaspora community, seeking mental health care is stigmatized and those with disclosed mental health illnesses are stereotyped. Romuladus hopes to support his clients in realizing their therapeutic goals through appropriate and accurate diagnoses, assessments, and counseling services. He wants to help clients with ADHD, ASD, Asperger's, developmental disabilities, post-partum depression, Black and immigrant men's mental health, and family issues. He is excited about the MFP program fellowship's potential to provide him access to professional development opportunities on different mental health topics.
Gabrielle Crowe (she/her) – Williamsburg, Virginia
Gabrielle Crowe is a graduate of Boise State University and Germanna Community College. She is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at the College of William & Mary.
After graduation, Gabrielle aims to specialize in trauma counseling and intends to serve Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. As a second-generation Filipina-American, she is committed to destigmatizing mental health care among AAPI communities and wants to support clients as they confront issues of intergenerational and racialized trauma. Earning this fellowship will allow her access to mentorship, counseling conferences, and evidence-based training to strengthen her professional development as a counselor.
Kapu Waiaʻu Dancel (she/they) – Milwaukie, Oregon
Kapu Dancel is a graduate of Warner Pacific College and is currently a master's student in the marriage, couple, and family counseling program at Portland State University.
Kapu hails from Maui, Hawaiʻi, and is now based in Portland, Oregon, where they have spent the past decade in creative movement, education, and nonprofit work. She is passionate about making healing spaces and practices accessible to communities of color and queer populations that find themselves othered or invisiblized within our systems. After graduation, Kapu intends to carry on her nonprofit work with communities of color and queer populations by offering evidence-based mental health services that are experientially and relationally focused and counseling that recognizes and honors nondominant cultural values and needs and democratizes the resource that is counseling. She is committed to leveraging their voice as a Kanaka ʻŌiwi counselor-in-training to create room within the counseling profession for recognition and understanding of Indigenous knowledge and practices, and their necessity within this field.
Shirrie Dominguez (she/her) – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Shirrie Dominguez is a graduate of the School of Urban Missions Bible College and Theological Seminary and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Liberty University.
After graduation, Shirrie intends to work with women, especially Hispanic women who have struggled to receive mental health services. Her goal is to concentrate on trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, which will help her clients to challenge and overcome automatic beliefs and help them learn strategies to change or modify their behavior. She also plans to advocate for these clients through her work at the Philadelphia Dream Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works to bring about change and hope in disadvantaged communities. Earning this fellowship will provide her with the support and development she needs in evidence-based practices as she works to serve underserved populations.
Idel Enriquez (he/his) – Casper, Wyoming
Idel Enriquez is a graduate of Instituto Tecnológico de Minatitlán and is currently a master's student in the school counseling program at the University of Wyoming–Casper College.
Idel is a first-generation Latino Immigrant, born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico. After graduation, he intends to support underserved populations, especially Latinx immigrant children, young adults, and LGBTQ+ individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder and prolonged grief due to their immigration process. In addition, he aims to continue developing resilience among these groups by providing access to mental health services. The fellowship will facilitate his access to professional training and resources to gain additional knowledge and skills. Idel also hopes to integrate into his practice group work, spiritual model, and cultural rituals that are meaningful to begin the healing process.
Samantha A. Feliz (she/her) – Clifton, New Jersey
Samantha Feliz is a graduate of Pace University and Passaic County Community College. She is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Kean University.
After graduation, Samantha plans to dedicate herself to providing holistic, culturally sensitive intersectional care to underprivileged, under-represented individuals while pursuing licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor in New Jersey. As a first-generation, bilingual Latin American, she dreams of working with families and individuals in the Latinx population to provide accessible care and destigmatize mental health treatment through advocacy, education, and community engagement. Samantha hopes to use this fellowship opportunity to expand her skills as a counselor and learn how to better support Black and Indigenous folks, as well as immigrants and children of immigrants in the Latinx community, while developing her network and access to resources for future clients.
Juan E. Gonzales (he/his) – Odessa, Texas
Juan Gonzales is a graduate of Texas Tech University and South Plains College. He is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
Juan is a licensed nurse, social worker, and retired United States Air Force veteran. He has developed a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by veterans who identify as part of marginalized communities, including but not limited to racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and individuals with disabilities. After graduation and licensure, Juan plans to pursue specialized training in evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, and dialectical behavior therapy, which are known to be effective in treating a range of mental health concerns including trauma, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He is honored to serve those who have served and is deeply committed to helping veterans from marginalized communities lead fulfilling and meaningful lives.
Khamedriah Grimes (she/her) – Kansas City, Missouri
Khamedriah Grimes is a graduate of Buena Vista University and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Clemson University.
Khamedriah has a passion for working with children and adolescents from communities of color, specifically African American and Latinx populations. After graduation, she intends to work with children who identify as African American and Latinx in a play therapy setting to help break the cycle of stigma placed in those communities about mental health and therapy in urban cities. Her goals include becoming a bilingual Registered Play Therapist to work with children and adolescents from marginalized populations and working with the communities to educate individuals on the importance of mental health affected by generational trauma, past trauma, and current stressors.
Earning this fellowship will allow her the opportunity to receive mentorship and a community of other professionals to gain more insight into working with diverse and underserved populations. With this new community, she believes she has another sense of support in her aspiring career of being a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist.
Kennedy Hanson (they/she) – Portland, Oregon
Kennedy Hanson is a graduate of the University of Oregon and is currently a master's student in the relationship and family counseling program at Portland State University.
After graduation, Kennedy plans to work with queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color who have experienced community-based and racialized trauma. They intend to focus on working with groups, nontraditional couples, and nontraditional families using experiential techniques to facilitate co-regulation and healing through community. They plan to continue working and expanding their current organization, The Healing Underground, to include various types of healers of color to offer affordable holistic services and continue to work toward indigenizing their practice. This fellowship will allow Kennedy to attend trainings on experiential techniques and have a greater understanding of what it means to be trauma informed.
Eman Hassouneh (she/her) – Santa Clara, California
Eman Hassouneh is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Palo Alto University.
After graduation, Eman is wholeheartedly committed to working with a diverse range of individuals who have experienced marginalization in society based on their identities. As a dedicated practitioner, she strongly believes in taking a systemic-based approach to counseling, understanding that individuals exist within the broader context of prevailing power structures. She also derives immense satisfaction from actively participating in her clients' healing processes through social advocacy and multicultural social justice counseling techniques.
Receiving this fellowship allows Eman to continue her lifelong process of learning as a counselor, deepening her knowledge and skills through specialized training and research opportunities. Through this enhanced understanding, she aims to better serve underserved populations in a holistic, inquisitive, and thoughtful manner. This fellowship holds great significance for her, providing the means to expand her capacity to make a meaningful impact and contribute to a more equitable society.
Viet Anh Ho (he/his) – Fountain Valley, California
Viet Anh Ho is a graduate of Ohio State University and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling and marriage and family therapy program at California State University, Fullerton.
Viet Anh intends to work with the Vietnamese-American community in southern California after he graduates. In order to help Vietnamese families and community members overcome the difficulties of being a minority population within a social system that gives other dominant ethnic groups more visibility, he is interested in using culturally sensitive interventions. These interventions include bilingual therapy, racial healing, and community engagement. Through the promotion of Vietnamese identity, highlighting the unique qualities and resiliency that Vietnamese Americans possess, and examining Vietnamese cultural and spiritual history, his goal is to positively impact the Vietnamese-American community. In his upcoming counseling work with Vietnamese Americans, he is also interested in incorporating Buddhist principles into his counseling repertoire.
By receiving this fellowship, Viet Anh will be able to fortify his professional identity, his belief in the power of counseling to effect social change and uphold the principles of social justice, and his connections to a broad community of counselors who share his commitment to a better and more promising future.
Laina Jo Kenyon (she/her) – Jackson, Mississippi
Laina Kenyon is a graduate of Belhaven University and is currently a master's student in the mental health counseling program at Mississippi College.
After graduation, Laina plans to pursue licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Virginia. She has a heart for those impacted by incarceration and seeks to serve, encourage, and empower this population. Laina hopes to bring her love of storytelling and the arts into her practice through trauma-informed narrative therapy and drama therapy.
Earning this fellowship allows her to continue her education at Mississippi College and begin the process of completing the alternative training program educational requirements for the RDT (Registered Drama Therapist) credential through the North American Drama Therapy Association. Additional training in drama therapy and through the NBCC Foundation will help her develop more creative and holistic approaches to healing and thriving for those who are in, coming out of, and adjacent to incarceration.
Kendall Kern (she/her) – Cleveland, Mississippi
Kendall Kern is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Delta State University.
After graduation, Kendall intends to work with rural LGBTQ+ people in Mississippi, providing substance abuse counseling services. In rural communities, access to queer-affirming substance use disorder counselors is often inaccessible, and she is committed to serving this underserved group of people. Earning this fellowship will enable her to gain additional training in counseling diverse populations and innovative counseling modalities such as adventure therapy, as well as work with an experienced mentor who specializes in these populations. Kendall is very grateful to receive the NBCC Minority Fellowship, as it will help her pay for her education experiences and invest more time into her research around the impact that adventure therapy has on self-concept.
Kang Chon (KC) Kim (she/her) – Washington, D.C.
Kang Chon Kim is a graduate of Ewha Womans University and is currently a master's student in the mental health counseling program at Marymount University.
KC is originally from South Korea and immigrated to the United States in 2017. After graduation, she intends to work with refugees, immigrants, and populations from low economic status, such as the homeless. Her goal is to practice trauma-informed care and be competent in treating trauma related to family separation, living in hiding for a long time, imprisonment, malnutrition, etc. She feels passionate about helping families with neurodivergent members. KC is deeply grateful for the fellowship, as it will empower her to be a competent counselor and build a community with other counselors who are committed to bridging the gap in mental health.
Matthew J. Kirk (he/his) – Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Matthew Kirk is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Clemson University. He is currently a master's student in the pastoral clinical mental health counseling program at Marymount University.
Matthew is passionate about eradicating the stigmas surrounding mental health and counseling in communities of color. Specifically, he would like to explore the experiences of Black and Brown youth and young adults as it pertains to the intersection of race/ethnicity, religion/spirituality/faith, and Queer identities through advocacy, research, and practice. After graduation, he intends to work with Black and Brown youth, adolescents, and adults. He is particularly interested in working with male adolescents and young adults who are homeless or unhoused and identify within the LGBTQ+ community. He also intends to partner with faith communities to provide psychoeducation and consultation surrounding the symbiotic relationship between mental health and spirituality and integrating religious/spiritual practices into therapy.
Earning this prestigious fellowship will allow Matthew to engage in meaningful professional development trainings and opportunities targeted toward working with the underserved communities he intends to impact. Moreover, he will greatly benefit from gaining mentors in the field, as well as building strong relationships with his fellow future practitioners and counselor educators.
Annika Yeahyun Limson (she/her) – Baltimore, Maryland
Annika Limson is a graduate of the University of Rochester and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Johns Hopkins University School of Education.
Annika cofounded the Justice for Asian American Coalition in 2021 and is presently spearheading the committee for Antiracist Trainings and Coalition Building Spaces at her graduate institution. During her fellowship year, Annika aims to learn more about the racial socialization framework, as well as how it could be integrated into Asian American families and communities. She yearns to serve marginalized populations with a focus on building a coalition and advocating for accessibility and equitable distribution of resources. After graduation, she intends to work with children and aging populations, providing trauma-informed and multiculturally oriented counseling services. She wants to help families of color build intergenerational connections, increasing parent-child empowerment. She is also passionate about music education and healing through music and various forms of art as a violin and piano instructor.
Jocelyne Lopez (she/her) – Salt Lake City, Utah
Jocelyne Lopez is a graduate of the University of Utah and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Westminster University.
After graduation, Jocelyne intends to work with the Latiné population through education, advocacy, and community-based networking. As a bilingual individual, she plans to integrate her experiences and the knowledge she has gained in school to provide culturally competent treatment to those in her comunidad (community). Additionally, she plans to integrate her comunidad's (community's) ways of healing into her treatment modalities so that multicultural individuals can receive personalized care. She hopes to educate su gente (her people) on mental health issues while providing accessible and inclusive care. Additionally, Jocelyn is interested in helping individuals affected by domestic violence, generational trauma, immigrant trauma, familial trauma, and anxiety and mood disorders. Earning this fellowship will allow her to strengthen her counselor identity by attending conferences, learning evidence-based practices, gaining mentorship, and expanding her network.
Arima Nam (she/her) – Waterbury, Vermont
Arima Nam is a graduate of Oberlin College and the University of East London. She is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at the University of Vermont.
In pursuing her clinical mental health counseling degree, Arima aims to devote her energies to the provision of informed mental health care for refugees, new Americans, and Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Galvanized by her early work with North Korean defectors, she is committed to providing contextually based support to underrepresented populations, with sensitivity to the stressors associated with living in predominantly white environments. Specifically, she seeks to support individuals through experiences such as discrimination, acculturation, and racial/ethnic/cultural identity development as they relate to mood disorders and trauma. Through the fellowship, Arima wants to gain training that will allow for the progression and application of psychological interventions based on multicultural-, evidence-, and practice-based science for diverse, historically underserved populations.
Tiffany A. Nelson (she/her) – Orlando, Florida
Tiffany Nelson is a graduate of Florida State University and Broward College. She is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Stetson University.
After graduation, Tiffany intends to continue her work with the Black and Caribbean community by improving and expanding her 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Counselors of Color, Inc. She also aims to work with adolescents, families, and the LGBTQ+ community. Ultimately, she aspires to achieve her doctorate in affective neuroscience and contribute to the field of sex therapy via research on adverse childhood experiences. Earning this fellowship will allow Tiffany to network with like-minded individuals who are interested in serving underrepresented communities, attend counseling conferences to establish a stronger professional identity, learn evidence-based practices, and advocate for the counseling profession.
Jane Chioma Obi (she/her) – Austin, Texas
Jane Obi is a graduate of Truman State University and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Seminary of the Southwest.
Jane will be Gottman Level 1 trained by June 2023. After graduation, she plans to serve African Americans and Africans in the diaspora who are first- and second-generation, with a focus on families and couples dealing with intergenerational trauma. She has a particular interest in attachment styles and empowering couples to develop a secure relationship while deepening their emotional vulnerability. She believes therapy is a great tool to support people in continually renewing their minds and breaking generational patterns.
As president of her school's Counselors for Social Justice, she is a spirited advocate for racial healing, mental health awareness, and empowerment of African Americans. She hopes this fellowship will grant her more opportunities for social justice advocacy. She is also passionate about integrating spirituality into counseling and is eager to network with other professionals at NBCC who share this interest. Earning this fellowship will allow her to connect, become inspired, and establish a strong professional identity as a Black counselor.
Rhiannon G. L. Parent (they/their) – Seattle, Washington
Rhiannon Parent is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling and drama therapy program at Antioch University Seattle.
Rhiannon became interested in the mental health field through working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to organize several campus and community fundraising events. Some of their future career goals include becoming a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and drama therapist. Rhiannon looks forward to working with underserved clients who have experienced complex trauma through a somatic, cultural/relational, and anti-oppression lens. They are particularly interested in working with queer and gender-diverse young adults, a population with a high likelihood of having experienced trauma and suicidality and that can have a difficult time accessing safe mental health care. Earning this fellowship will allow them to connect with other emerging professionals, further develop their counselor identity, and learn strategies to best advocate for the counseling profession and vulnerable populations within the realm of mental health care and beyond.
Kimberly Calderón Richmond (she/her) – Vernon, Connecticut
Kimberly Richmond is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University and is currently a master's student in the school counseling program at the University of Connecticut.
After graduation, Kimberly intends to work with underrepresented adolescents of color from low-income families in urban cities of Connecticut, providing a holistic approach inclusive of mental health services along with academic and postsecondary support. Earning this fellowship will enable her to gain personal and professional relationships with like-minded professionals and mentors, attend additional training for professional development through conferences or workshops, and other opportunities to enhance her knowledge and impact on this population's barriers.
Shane Roberts (he/his) – Springfield, Oregon
Shane Roberts is a graduate of Western Oregon University and the University of Idaho. He is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Bushnell University.
After graduation, Shane plans to work with youth who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and or other psychotic-related conditions. He will also work with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities. Winning the scholarship enables him to develop his professional character and advocate more strongly for the counseling field to expand. It will also further support additional learning of research-based counseling techniques and connect with more excellent counselors to help underserved populations.
Diana Ruiz Grajeda (she/her) – Bellevue, Washington
Diana Ruiz Grajeda is a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Seattle University.
After graduation, Diana wants to work with Hispanic/Latinx children and youth back in the border area of Ciudad Juarez-El Paso, where she is originally from. As an English-Spanish bilingual, one of her goals is to offer therapeutic services in both languages as a way to increase accessibility to mental health services. Earning this fellowship will allow Diana to connect with other counseling students and expand her knowledge of the best evidence-based practices to work with the Hispanic/Latinx community, as well as immigrant individuals.
Kimberly Sanz (she/her) – Albany, New York
Kimberly Sanz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and Sage Graduate School. She is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at The College of Saint Rose.
After graduation, Kimberly intends to work with adolescents, teens, and families, particularly adoptees and those involved in the child welfare system. As a transracial adoptee herself, she is dedicated to working with those who have been underserved and dealing with unresolved trauma, identity search, and loss. Whether it is family preservation, foster care, or adoption, her ultimate goal is to guide clients toward finding meaning in life, recognizing their worth in the world, and healing and growing in a supportive and safe environment.
Honored to receive this fellowship, Kimberly is grateful for the assistance it provides in covering educational expenses, receiving further training, strengthening her multicultural counselor identity, and networking with like-minded students. This opportunity is a way for her to continue advocating for the counseling profession and for populations that are underrepresented.
Brennan Allan Steele (he/his) – Memphis, Tennessee
Brennan Steele is a graduate of Duke University and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at the University of Memphis.
After graduation, Brennan intends to work specifically with Black men, a demographic that often experiences mental health issues that go undiagnosed and, thus, without treatment. In particular, he would like to focus his efforts on Black men in Memphis, Tennessee. As a former educator, he understands that the future of the city includes the 40% of Black boys who are currently in the school system, and yet, there is a disproportionately low number of Black male therapists. This fellowship will equip Brennan with the knowledge, experiences, and further development of a professional identity that will allow him to better serve the needs of his local community.
Ashley Katherine Taylor (she/her) – Austin, Texas
Ashley Taylor is a graduate of Tarleton State University and Arapahoe Community College. She is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at St. Edward's University.
Ashley is currently working at Integral Care as an intake specialist supporting underserved populations in Austin, Texas. In addition, she engages in advocacy in her local community by providing presentations to local schools addressing mental health topics. Upon graduation, Ashley intends to operate a group practice that offers an integrated approach to mental health and wellness. She is committed to serving populations who are neurodivergent, LGBTQIA2S+, and people of color. She is honored to accept this fellowship and the opportunities it will provide, including education, networking, and advocacy.
Lara Torii (she/her) – Rosemead, California
Lara Torii is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Concordia University.
Lara has worked with transition-age foster youth on education, employment, housing, and healthy living for 9 years in Los Angeles and New York City. She has also previously served as an international volunteer in Malaysia and Thailand. She loves working in the community with adolescents, and after graduation, she plans to continue serving transition-age foster youth as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. As a queer Asian (Filipina and Japanese) American woman, she is passionate about social justice, service, community, and cultural humility. Her interests are in racial literacy, multicultural and social justice counseling, social-emotional learning, developmental and intergenerational trauma, and the mind-body-spirit connection. Lara loves wellness practices such as yoga, Jin Shin Jyutsu, massage, and energy work and hopes to incorporate somatic modalities into her future practice. Her goal as a counselor is to provide culturally affirming, trauma-informed, and intersectional services. She hopes to empower clients in their healing, growth, and transformation journeys.
Kelsye C. Turner (she/her) – Detroit, Michigan
Kelsye Turner is a graduate of the University of Chicago and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Wayne State University.
After graduating from her program, Kelsye plans to work with Black and queer individuals, families, couples, and groups in Detroit, Michigan. During her fellowship year, she will deepen her understanding of topics such as trauma, attachment, emotional regulation, intimate partner violence, addiction, and issues concerning race, ethnicity, gender, and/or sexuality. She takes an intersectional feminist approach to her counseling practice and plans to use trauma-focused cognitive behavioral, emotionally focused, and family systems therapy in her future work. Earning this fellowship has given Kelsye the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from other counseling students, benefit from mentorship, and attend counseling conferences and webinars to advance her professional development as a counselor.
Charita M. Upkins (she/her) – Franklin, Tennessee
Charita Upkins is a graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and is currently a master's student in the mental health counseling program at Belmont University.
Charita is passionate about serving and empowering women and adolescents in underserved communities where emotional and mental care is extremely limited and often resisted. Earning this fellowship will allow her to participate in specialized and innovative training opportunities to help her better serve this population and other multicultural populations. Charita is incredibly honored to build a community with like-minded scholars and fellows and welcomes opportunities to collaborate and innovate with her professional peers to address the unique and specific needs of the underserved.
Alexandria Christine Viegas (she/her) – Crystal Lake, Illinois
Alexandria Viegas is a graduate of Calvin University and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Roosevelt University.
Alexandria's background in psychology, recreational therapy, theater, and art informs her plans to incorporate expressive arts and play therapy interventions into her child-centered theoretical orientation. Her work as a behavioral health counselor in her local hospital's psychiatric unit has given her the opportunity to facilitate expressive arts-based groups with adolescents in crisis. After graduation, she plans to serve children and adolescents, especially those who have experienced or are currently experiencing adverse childhood events. She is passionate about helping children form the words to express emotions and, subsequently, increase their emotional intelligence and develop resilience that they may carry into adulthood. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree with the goal of conducting research on childhood resilience. Her plans for her fellowship year include gaining knowledge on trauma-informed expressive arts and play, as well as facilitating therapeutic groups with her chosen population. Alexandria is incredibly honored to have been named an NBCC Master's Fellow and is grateful for the support she will be able to pay forward in her future work with children.
Halle Walcott (she/her) – Jersey City, New Jersey
Halle Walcott is a graduate of the University at Albany and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Rutgers University.
After graduation, Halle intends to work with underserved and LGBTQIA+ young adults to bridge the gap between resources and mental health care. The NBCC fellowship will allow her to continue to nurture her professional identity as a counselor through mentorship and networking with other professionals. Through this experience, she will be able to create innovative ideas that can adequately help her target population.
Tessa Amani Williams (she/her) – Fort Worth, Texas
Tessa Amani Williams is a graduate of the University of North Texas and is currently a master's student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Tarleton State University.
As a person who spent her early twenties working in environmental conservation, Tessa hopes to receive a certification in ecotherapy, in hopes of taking clients of color and those who live in urban areas on healing nature retreats. She is also interested in performing therapy sessions outside and while walking (at each client's pace), especially with clients who are dealing with depression. She is a body-affirming counseling student who is interested in helping clients strengthen their mind-body-soul connection through yoga and other Indigenous and cultural practices. Tessa is interested in helping clients heal racial- and body-based trauma and shame. As a multiracial person, she is interested in helping clients in their racial development. Above all, she aspires to be an affirming and empowering practitioner, and she seeks to always create a safe therapeutic space.
This fellowship will allow her to attend training on ecotherapy and polyvagal theory. She will utilize the funds to learn more about working with trauma within communities of color as well as alternative practices .