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This year several students from the Counseling and Psychology program at Morgridge have been selected as fellows for this year’s NAADAC Fellowship.

The fellowship is dedicated to increasing the number of culturally-competent Master’s Level addiction counselors available to serve underserved and minority populations, and transition age youth (ages 16-25) by providing tuition stipends, training, professional guidance, and mentoring to students enrolled either in an addictions counseling Master’s program or a Master’s program with a concentration in addictions counseling from an accredited institution.

Cochran Riley

Riley Cochran

Riley Cochran is a 27 year old male from Denver, Colorado. He enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, attending any local sporting event, many different forms of physical activity, and connecting with others, both professionally and socially. A graduate from the University of Colorado Denver’s Undergraduate program, Riley majored in Psychology and minored in Sociology. He is currently anticipating graduation in June of 2017 from the University of Denver’s Counseling Psychology program with a Masters in Clinical Mental Health. After an adolescent experience full of challenges and character growth Riley developed a passion for wanting to help others facing the many different challenges and intersections of life. He has a specific interest in helping transitional aged youth involved with the judicial system and struggling with the many different facets of addiction. Riley currently holds a position as an Addiction Counselor at Arapahoe House, an organization providing multiple levels of ASAM care to a diverse population of clientele within the state of Colorado.

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Christelle Cook

My name is Christelle Cook. I have lived in Colorado most of my life, and hope to stay in state as I begin my career in the mental health field in the coming months. I completed my undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Sociology through the University of Colorado at Boulder, and I am currently finishing the second and final year of a Master’s program at the University of Denver in Counseling Psychology. Throughout this program I have worked in practicum and internship sites that focus on substance use treatment with adults and crisis stabilization with adolescents and have very much valued these experiences. I have been interested in substance use and addiction counseling as well as working with adolescents for many years, and I am looking forward to having the opportunity to begin this journey in the coming months.

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Demi Folds

Demi Folds is a second year Master’s student at University of Denver in the Clinical Mental Health program with an Addictions specialization. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from University of Georgia. Before starting graduate school, Demi tutored student-athletes, worked at a Methadone clinic for a year, and traveled abroad. Demi is currently a student intern at a private practice center, providing psychotherapy and brief substance abuse interventions. In her first year of her Master’s program, she worked at a local Denver high school, with unserved youth. Demi is passionate about working with those struggling with and affected by substance use disorders and enjoys conducting research on addictions and underserved populations. Demi has hopes to eventually obtain her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, to continue counseling and serving disenfranchised populations.

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Megan Kenney

My name is Megan Kenney and I am from Maple Grove, Minnesota. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in 2015 with a double major in Psychology and Child Adult and Family Services. Following graduation, I moved to Denver, Colorado where I am currently in my second year in the Counseling Psychology program in the Clinical Mental Health track working towards an addictions specialization at the University of Denver. Aside from school, I enjoy all Colorado has to offer. I love going to the mountains, snowboarding, hiking, running, and doing yoga. I also enjoy spending time with friends and family. Following graduation in June 2017, I am excited to pursue my passion of working with adolescents and underserved populations.

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Elizabeth Kidd

I am a second-year master’s student at the University of Denver and will be graduating with a degree in Counseling Psychology in June 2017. My concentration is in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in addictions. I am an intern at Progressive Therapy Systems, which is a sex offender treatment provider. During treatment, I focus on the dysfunctional response cycle, anger management, and emotional regulation. I tend to utilize Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Psychodynamic Therapy with clients. Prior to my internship, I was a practicum student at Dakota Ridge High School. I worked with adolescents who had substance abuse issues, social anxiety, and difficulties in school. I have also had experience in the Counseling and Educational Services Clinic at the University of Denver working with clients who identify as LGBTQ as well as couples counseling. I plan to continue seeking minority populations throughout my counseling career.

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Kathleen (Katie) Larkin

I am originally from Pittsburgh, but I am currently finishing up my Master’s at the University of Denver in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Addictions Specialization. My goal is to obtain a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Certified Addictions Counselor (CAC) Level III licensure in Colorado. I have personal experience with the foster care system as my parents were foster parents. I saw first-hand the impact that addictions can have on both youth and families. It was through this experience growing up that pushed me towards a career in this field. I have clinical experience working in community mental health with the Salvation Army as a counselor for homeless men with addictions. I am currently working in a hospital setting in Denver on an acute psychiatric unit. It is an honor to have received this fellowship and I am excited for where it will take me in my career.

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Stephanie Nisle

Stephanie Nisle is pursuing her Master’s in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Addictions at the University of Denver. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois in 2012 where she participated in a semester abroad French language immersion program in Aix-en-Provence, France. Previously, she has worked as a research assistant analyzing residential substance abuse treatment facilities. Stephanie has also worked in the addictions field providing group and individual counseling to adults and adolescents with co-morbid disorders. Additionally, she has spent the past eight years working and volunteering with at-risk and special needs students. The combination of her teaching and work experiences, have led to the formation of her research interests related to personal, environmental, and behavioral factors that contribute to adolescent development and substance abuse. In the future she aims to develop programs and interventions in hopes to create greater empowerment within these communities.

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Jessica Thompson

Born and raised in Colorado, I graduated with a BA in Psychology from Metropolitan State University of Denver. I am a 2nd year Masters student at the University of Denver in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an Addictions Specialization program. I worked four years for the State of Colorado caring for clients who are mentally or physically disabled, severely mentally ill, and disabled sex offenders. I completed my practicum at Creative Treatment Options as an outpatient addiction counselor. I am currently working at Arapahoe House, working with clients who suffer from addictions in withdrawal management and adult and adolescent inpatient units. Also, I am an intern at Jefferson Center of Mental Health, working as an outpatient clinician for adults and children. I am greatly passionate in the addictions field due to coming from a family that struggles with addiction and seeing the great need for treatment and prevention.

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When you hear the title, “school counselor,” you might think of someone who makes student schedule changes and hands out college applications. While school counselors are responsible for scheduling and post-graduation guidance, they do a lot more than that. Per the American School Counselor Association (ASCA): “school counselors are certified/ licensed educators with a minimum of a master’s degree in school counseling, making them uniquely qualified to address all students’ academic, career and social/emotional development needs by designing, implementing, evaluating and enhancing a comprehensive school counseling program that promotes and enhances student success.”

Not only has the role of school counselor grown, so has the need for school counselors across the country. The ASCA recommends a ratio of 1 school counselor to every 250 students. As of 2014, there were only 3 states in the U.S. that met that recommendation, with the majority of states well over a ratio of 1:400. In Colorado, the ratio was 1:395.

School districts and states across the country have taken notice of the deficit in school counseling, and many have made funding available in an attempt to fix the problem. Since 2008, Colorado has allocated over $13 million through the School Counselor Corps Grant Program (SCCGP) to secondary schools and school districts with particularly high dropout rates and low graduation rates to increase the amount of school counselors and counseling opportunities for their students.

In 2015, the U.S Department of Education awarded over $24.8 million in grants for 67 school districts across 26 states for school counseling and school mental health services. In late 2016 in Indiana, Lilly Endowment Inc. issued a request for proposals from schools in need of counseling resources, and will potentially award up to $30 million in funding across the state to hire more counselors and improve school counseling services.

What does this mean for jobs in school counseling? The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be 22,500 new jobs in the field, and an 8% growth overall by 2024. How can you prepare yourself for a job in school counseling? You need a Master’s degree in school counseling, which you can earn here at the Morgridge College of Education, University of Denver in our Counseling Psychology Master of Arts program. Our program prepares students for the School Counselor License in Colorado through the Colorado Department of Education, and allows you to work as a school counselor for children and young adults (up to age 21). Through this degree program, students have the opportunity to take interdisciplinary coursework in the areas of counseling and child development, and to complete a supervised practicum and internship in a school setting.

Substance abuse and addiction is an issue that affects nearly 12% of the US population directly, with over 21 million adults battling substance use disorders each year according to American Addiction Centers. That figure doesn’t account for family members and friends of addicts that are indirectly affected. Counseling Psychology Master’s student, and NAADAC fellow, Elizabeth Kidd, put it well: “When you are counseling someone with an addiction, you are also touching the lives of their friends, family members, and community. Addiction harms not only the person who is struggling, but also the people who surround them.”

Heroin use is at an all-time high, with rates of use tripling from 2002 to 2014. According to a CBS News report, current rates of overdose deaths are at 5 times what they were in 2000. The Surgeon General recently released its first ever report on alcohol, drugs, and health, titled “Facing Addiction in America.” Amongst the report’s key findings are figures representing the financial impact of addiction and substance abuse: It is estimated that the yearly economic impact of substance misuse is $249 billion for alcohol misuse and $193 billion for illicit drug use”.

These figures are scary, but with adequate funding and services, and appropriate training for medical and therapeutic professionals, it can get better. This year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $53 million in funding to 44 states to help address the opioid and heroin epidemic through prevention efforts, making treatment more readily available, and multiple other support services. There is also a growing amount of funding available to students wishing to learn about and work in the field of addictions counseling. Several of our Master’s students were awarded substantial fellowships through NAADAC this year, totaling over $90,000 in scholarships awarded to students in the addictions specialization. One of those students, Riley Cochran, said this about the field: “Especially in today’s world where substances are more readily available than help, it is imperative that those interested in the field of addiction counseling make significant efforts to reduce the stigmas of addiction and make treatment more readily available.”

The projected rate of growth in employment for Substance Abuse Counselors is 22%, making it one of the fastest growing career paths in the country. This means that over the next few years there will be more jobs in the field of addictions counseling than there are professionals to fill those jobs.

Here in the Counseling Psychology program, we offer Master’s students the opportunity to pursue a specialization in addictions counseling that covers timely and practical content that prepares students for jobs in the addictions counseling field. For students who wish to work in the state of Colorado, the specialization provides the coursework required for certification as a Colorado Addiction Counselor II (CAC II), making students especially qualified and hireable in a wide variety of mental health and school settings. Our program has a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Office of Behavioral Health, making the application process for certification simple and straight-forward. According to Master’s student and NAADAC fellow, Demi Folds, “This program enables me to take what is discussed in class and apply it to my work with clients almost immediately.” If you feel passionate about helping people, especially those suffering from substance abuse disorders, a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in addictions counseling might be for you. Check out our website for more information on the program.

The New Business Analytics Specialization in RMS

The Business Analytics specialization is an exciting new addition to the Institutional Research track in the Research Methods and Statistics Ph.D. Program. This specialization provides you with an opportunity to gain a multidisciplinary education that opens up several future career paths.

Taking courses in Business Analytics will be challenge you to view research design and analyses from a different perspective. You will collaborate and network with students from various career backgrounds and  will learn about cutting-edge programs and programming languages.

Why Business Analytics?

Heather Blizzard“In today’s world, businesses are looking for people who have skills in research design and have the ability to implement research analyses. That’s why I was extremely excited to learn that my program was adding a specialization in Business Analytics.” – Heather Blizzard, RMS Ph.D. Student
iNTRODUCING bOSTON Pre-K Students to Math

“Early math is cognitively fundamental” said  Doug Clements, Ph.D, during PBS News Hour’s  feature on early math education in Boston Public Schools. The Building Blocks curriculum developed by Dr Clements and his Co-Researcher Julie Sarama, Ph.D, was heavily featured in the piece which showcased how critical math is to Pre-K students.

Through early introduction to math, Pre-K students using the Building Blocks Curriculum not only learn to count, and identify shapes, but also learn why we talk about shapes and numbers the way we do. They are taught to think critically about math as they move forward with their education.

As the United States continues to struggle with issues of race and diversity, DU professor Frank Tuitt has released a new book designed to help faculty better connect with the changing demographics of higher education. Tuitt serves as senior advisor to the chancellor and provost on diversity and inclusion and is also a professor of higher education in the Morgridge College of Education.

Frank Tuitt“Race, Equity and the Learning Environment: The Global Relevance of Critical and Inclusive Pedagogies in Higher Education” (Stylus Publishing, 2016) examines the importance of creating an educational environment that reflects the changing diversity in higher education. The book also provides specific tools for achieving that goal. “Historically, we’ve created these fine institutions that had a certain set of students in mind when they were created,” Tuitt says. “Our students today are very different from the original set of students that these institutions were created for. And the assumption is that what works for one group will work for all groups. So the book is an attempt to help faculty who are interested in having students be the best that they can be.”

Tuitt believes the choices faculty members make on which authors to include and not include on course reading lists is just one example of how unintended bias can impact a student’s learning experience.

“Race and equity continue to be important as we see disparities between different racial groups even in places where we wouldn’t expect to,” Tuitt says. “We think part of it is because we haven’t been able to adjust our approach to teaching in ways that adjust to the different backgrounds and experiences that come to our classrooms.”

* Original story produced by Tamara Banks. Read it at:

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