Hayat Abu-Ghazaleh, a first year Master’s student in the Counseling Psychology program here at the Morgridge Collection of Education (MCE), is a true advocate for social justice and equity. She shows her commitment to these tenets through her studies and clinical work in Clinical and Mental Health Counseling, through her volunteerism with refugee groups, and through her participation in the Vagina Monologues here at the University of Denver, which promotes representation and equity across gender boundaries.

Hayat was born and raised in Saudi Arabia with her family, and noticed that there was a greater need for mental health services and care in her community than was available, which prompted her interest in the fields of psychology and counseling. In Spring 2016 Hayat complete her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at American University in Washington D.C., then decided she wanted to further her knowledge and the impact she could make upon the field of mental health through our MA program in Counseling Psychology. After graduation, she is considering a move back to Saudi Arabia so that she can affect change in her home, and create more opportunities and options for those in need of mental health treatment.

As part of her MA program, Hayat is completing her counseling practicum with Asian Pacific Development Center, where “services are tailored to address the needs of immigrant and refugee status clients. Issues involving cultural adjustment, such as language, values, customs and behavioral differences, are often intimately associated with the client’s chief complaint” (APCD 2018). Hayat’s fluency in two languages, her strong interest in helping refugees, and her commitment to social justice make her a great addition to the team at APDC, and to the MA program here at MCE.

Hayat is eager to make a difference in the Denver community through her work with APDC, but her involvement with refugee advocacy and support began well before accepting her practicum position. In 2016, she volunteered with Northern Lights Aid, an NGO that started as a project to provide emergency relief and supplies to refugees in Lesvos, Greece, and now is “focused on implementing innovative, compassionate solutions and creating community-oriented projects serving around 400 residents of the Kavala Perigial camp (NLA 2018).

Recently, Hayat participated in the Vagina Monologues here on campus as part of the DU Health and Counseling Center’s Love+ Sex+ Health Week. The week-long event promotes education and awareness around issues of sex, sexuality and gender, and proceeds from the resistance-themed Vagina Monologues went to Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) and the global organization VDAY. Hayat wanted to get involved with the event to promote gender equity on-campus, and to feed her passion for performing.

When asked why she chose the Counseling Psychology program at MCE, Hayat said that she appreciated the college’s emphasis on social justice and multicultural issues, and that she felt the CP faculty were compassionate and engaged. As a current student, she appreciates that the faculty are willing to work with students at all development levels, and they are willing to push some boundaries to foster real learning and growth in students.

We know that Hayat’s commitment to helping marginalized populations around the country and the world is part of what will make her a great counselor, and thought-leader in the field.


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