Written by Mary Ann Stewart

I first came to the University of Arkansas in the fall of 2006, thanks in part to receiving a “Roads” Scholarship from the Arkansas Alumni Association. I was undecided at the time, but before too long I found my passion was researching and writing. I received a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in political science in 2010. After graduation, I found myself undecided once again and wasn’t sure what career path I wanted to pursue. I knew my calling was to help others, but I didn’t know how I would go about it. While working as an administrative assistant at the Honors College on campus, I stumbled upon the Masters of Science in Mental Health Counseling program. I took my first counseling class in the summer of 2011, and I have been passionate about counseling research ever since.

This year, I was a recipient of the Jim Deaton scholarship, an award from the Arkansas Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. I feel blessed to be a recipient of this award because I believe our counseling program at the University of Arkansas is one of the best in the state and is composed of talented students. I greatly admire the counseling faculty because they are wonderful mentors. The Jim Deaton scholarship means a lot to me because it helped pay for my membership to the Arkansas Counseling Association so I could attend and present at the annual Arkansas Counseling Conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I appreciated all the encouragement and support they provided when I showed interest in presenting at a state conference.

I, along with fellow student, Bryttani Johnston Watson, created and presented a proposed college-counseling group for freshmen. Bryttani and I sought to create a 10-week educational group that would help college freshmen develop goals to enhance their personal wellness, which in turn would provide them with better chances of staying in college and making it to graduation.   This has been an exciting year for me because I was able to see my research for a class project turn not only into a conference worthy presentation, but also an actual group that was implemented at the counseling center at the University of Arkansas.  I also currently work as an academic advisor on campus within the Health, Human Performance and Recreation department. I work with college students every day and I know how developing healthy habits goes hand in hand with being successful in college.

After returning from Hot Springs, I feel relieved to have finished the presentation, but I also feel a stirring to come up with a new proposal for next year’s conference. I plan to continue to research the mental health needs of college students and my goal for the future is to pursue my counseling license and apply to the counseling doctoral program here on campus. The University of Arkansas has been my home for six years and I would love to stay here and continue to learn and grow.