LSU Graduate Students Awarded National Board of Certified Counselors Fellowship

June 17, 2020

BATON ROUGE--Recently, educational counseling graduate students Tori Press and Patricia Saye were selected for the National Board of Certified Counselors Minority Fellowship Program (MFP).

Each fellow will receive funds to support his/her education as well as training, mentorship and professional development services.

The MFP program aims to strengthen the infrastructure that engages diverse individuals in counseling and increase the number of professional counselors providing effective, culturally competent services to underserved and never-served populations. 

The NBCC chose 91 recipients from a pool of 400 applicants in the master’s-level mental health counseling, doctoral-level mental health counseling, and master's-level addictions counseling.

Press and Saye are two of only 30 students awarded a 2020 master’s mental health counseling fellowship.

Most of the country's 450 school counseling programs have between 300 to 500 students. “For our small program to have two students chosen is really just so phenomenal,” explains Jennifer R. Curry, PhD, NCC, Shirley B. Barton Endowed Professor of Professional School Counseling. “It speaks to the quality of our students.”

Tori Press

photo of Tori Press

Tori Press.

Working as a college access coach at College Forward in Houston, Tori Press was well acquainted with the challenges many teenagers face getting into college and inspired by the determination and resourcefulness of her colleagues.

“The school and career counselors ensured the students received the information needed to make conscientious decisions about their future,” she recalls. “That experience led me to pursue a master’s in school counseling.”

So, the Louisiana native decided to return home to pursue a master’s degree.

The journey hasn’t always been easy.

“In the beginning of my journey in the program, I was still very unsure of myself and of my contribution to the profession,” Press admits. “However, through the didactic and experiential learning opportunities, I have much more clarity pertaining to my professional identity.”

Ultimately, “This program has challenged me to grow and examine myself, so that I can work effectively with others in my profession.”

Press is honored to begin her third year in the program as a fellow. “The NBCC award means that I engage in more in-depth research and professional development opportunities now that I have more financial support,” she says.

After graduation, she intends to work as a professional middle or high school counselor. Based on her experiences at LSU, Press says, “I would like to partner with college programs that holistically support the transition of first-generation college students into post-secondary institutions."

Patricia Saye

photo of Patricia SayePatricia Saye.

A native of Pennsylvania, Patricia Saye came to Baton Rouge in 2016 for one-year of AmeriCorps service at City Year.

“I had never been to the South much before, and it was my first time in Louisiana,“ she recalls. “The culture, the people and the food are all so different from what I’m used to.”

After receiving a City Year scholarship, Saye applied to graduate school.

“Earning a master's degree in school and clinical mental health counseling will allow me to combine my two passions — working with children and adolescents and mental health advocacy,” she says.

While she could have chosen to enroll anywhere, Saye was drawn to LSU.

“During my AmeriCorps year, I worked with primarily minority students in a Baton Rouge elementary school that was highly under-resourced,” she explains. “Some of the professors’ research — such as Dr. Curry‘s — aligned with the experience I had, and that was a major selling point.”

Since joining the program, “the skills that I have learned are grounded in evidence-based practice,” Saye reports.

“But, what I've enjoyed most about the program is the immense amount of support from the faculty,” she says. “There are numerous theories and techniques, and my professors have always done a great job making sure I am knowledgeable.”

Despite the changes in the program due to COVID-19, Saye is on track to complete her degree in May 2021. After graduation, Saye plans to become a school-based, licensed professional counselor. She plans to dedicate her career to meeting the social and emotional, academic and career needs of minority students.

“Being selected for the NBCC award is a tremendous honor,” she says. “NBCC will provide me with professional development opportunities and mentorship that I would not have access to otherwise. I am grateful for the opportunity and excited for my fellowship year to begin.”


About LSU School of Education (SOE)
A school of the College of Human Sciences & Education, SOE offers undergraduate programs for students who want to pursue a career as a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teacher or acquire dual certification in both traditional elementary and special education classrooms. Besides providing graduate certification in early childhood education and instructional coaching, SOE offers a master’s degree in arts, arts in teaching, education (MEd), education in counseling (MEd), certificate of education specialist (EdS) and PhD. The School’s mission is to prepare educational professionals to be leaders, practitioners, and scholars knowledgeable in contemporary educational issues.

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About LSU College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE)
Located on the flagship campus in Baton Rouge, the College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The college is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, the School of Library & Information Science, the School of Social Work, the University Laboratory School and the Early Childhood Education Laboratory Preschool. These combined schools offer eight undergraduate degree programs, 20 graduate programs, and seven online graduate degree and/or certificate programs. CHSE current enrollment includes approximately1,800 undergraduates and more than 1,900 graduate students. CHSE is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is committed to improving quality of life across the lifespan.

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For more information, contact:
Adrian Hirsch
LSU College of Human Sciences & Education

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