SERC doctoral candidate Melissa McConaha has been recognized by Eastern Illinois University with its “Rising Star” award for recent alumni who have made significant contributions to the field and show outstanding professional promise. McConaha received her Master’s from Eastern Illinois before entering the Counselor Education and Supervision program at Auburn three years ago.
“I think this recognition is a testament to the many opportunities that have been offered to me here at Auburn,” McConaha said. “I left EIU with a solid foundation and strong professional identity and am grateful to continue growing here at Auburn. I have been able to be part of some outstanding research teams and make presentations around the country. As a doctoral student I feel very much supported and encouraged, which just adds to my desire to continue developing as a professional.”
McConaha has worked closely with Professors Jamie Carney, Melanie Iarussi, and Amanda Evans. Her additional teaching experiences with the Learning Communities have been supported by Drs. Peggy Dagley and Jared Russell from the Dean’s office.
“All of these people have made me feel very welcome at Auburn, and our doctoral cohort has been heavily engaged in professional development activities. There are multiple components to Counselor Education and my professors have supported how I have weighted the components to prepare for my desired career. For example, I feel strongly about clinical work, teaching, and supervision, and have been able to seek out several valuable experiences. I hope to work at a Master’s-only teaching institution for counseling, and remain clinically active. That basically means offering clinical mental health counseling services to people in the community. Not all programs are supportive of that, which is yet another thing that makes Auburn special.”
McConaha’s clinical experiences at Auburn have included time helping with Federal Adult Drug Court, gaining experience in the psychiatric department at East Alabama Medical Center, and working with students at Columbus State University’s Counseling Center.
“Diverse experiences in diverse settings have really informed my teaching, supervision, and research,” she said. “My professors have reined me when I needed focus, but have also helped me see areas of growth and ways to best use my strengths.”
McConaha said she doesn’t need to look far to see her role models.
“Our faculty members are super productive,” she said. “They are prolific writers and movers and shakers on a national level. I feel fortunate to work with them and just to be here at Auburn.”