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Student advocate for diversity in counseling awarded $20,000 fellowship

College of Education doctoral student Stacey L. Olden will inform school, career, counseling center and community counselors on best practices to improve career readiness, college adjustment and success


The NBCC Foundation, an affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), received more than 80 applications nationally for the NBCC Minority Fellowship Program (MFP), and Stacey L. Olden from USC's College of Education was one of 23 applicants selected. As an NBCC MFP Fellow, Olden will receive $20,000 in funding and training to support her education and facilitate her service to under-served minority populations.

Olden is currently a USC College of Education doctoral student in the counselor education and supervision program. As a part of her doctoral program, she is providing career development and wellness counseling to first-generation students (students whose parents did not attend college)at the university and plans to provide similar services to LGBTQ students.

“Working with freshmen in USC’s TRIO program, I provide career exploration and planning services to students in that program who have not decided on a major and are unsure of the career path they want to pursue after college,” says Olden. “I also provide wellness counseling to those students in areas where they are having difficulty and to help with their transition to college life.”

Olden is also an advocate for diversity in counseling through the implementation of training practices in counselor education programs. By alleviating the challenges that minority counselors face, Olden strives to empower minority counselors to establish a strong professional identity and propel them toward professional advancement. She is achieving this by equipping minority counselors with the tools and competence to effectively serve marginalized populations.

Olden was chosen for the fellowship because her efforts epitomize NBCC MFP’s goal to strengthen the infrastructure that engages diverse individuals in counseling and increase the number of professional counselors providing effective, culturally competent services to under-served minority populations. Fellows will work with foundation staff, the MFPAC and mentors to achieve this goal.

This fall, Olden will begin conducting research with university LGBTQ students regarding their experiences with heterosexism on campus. She will provide group counseling to assist these students with their overall wellness and college adjustment. Olden will utilize the award money to attend school full time, focus on research and scholarly writing, work with first-generation students in TRIO and begin working with LGBTQ students at the Columbia campus next year.

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. Currently, there are more than 55,000 National Certified Counselors (NCCs) in the United States and more than 50 countries. The foundation’s mission is to leverage the power of counseling by strategically focusing resources for positive change.

Supporting counselors-in-training is integral to the NBCC Foundation’s mission. Through its scholarships and fellowships, the foundation increases the number of counselors committed to helping priority under-served communities. The NBCC MFP is made possible by a grant awarded to NBCC by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The Foundation is contracted by NBCC to administer the MFP, including training and collaboration activities, such as webinars, that are open to all NCCs.

"I have a passion for helping others," says Olden, "especially those from under-served populations. In my many years as a helping professional, I have worked hard to advocate for minority communities. Winning this award has been a great motivator for me to continue the work of educating, encouraging and empowering other marginalized people."

In her third year of study, Olden plans to center her dissertation around best practices for working with marginalized populations and the empowerment and mentoring of minority counselors.

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