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All posts by Leigh Shoemaker

Jeffrey L. Cochran, professor, is the new Educational Psychology and Counseling (EPC) Department Head. Cochran came to UT Knoxville and joined EPC in 2006. During this time, he has served in various leadership roles such as program coordinator of Clinical Mental Health Counseling, representative of the CEHHS (College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences) Curriculum Review Committee, and president of the Association for Humanistic Counseling. We asked him some questions about this new role. Read his responses below.

Jeff Cochran

I feel proud to be selected to lead EPC. We are a very impressive group of scholars and teachers. It is an honor to have this leadership role.

What is your top priority for the department?
Enhanced relationships: EPC is made up of impressive individuals, academic programs, and centers. Of course, we have always shared resources and helped each other out as needed. I want us to increase our sharing. I want us to enhance our workplace relationships and inter-program relationships. Many of our programs and individuals face very similar challenges, which we address in our different ways. So, one path to enhanced relationships can be greater informational sharing of what works per program and per individual regarding common challenges. With enhanced relationships, we can move the ‘bottom lines’ of

  • Continuing and even improving in recruiting and graduating the very best students from around Tennessee, the US, and the world
  • Continuing and even improving the quality, quantity, and notoriety of our EPC faculty members’ research
  • Increasing our service to our local community, our professions, UT, and the world.

What are you looking forward to as department head?
My new role presents me with the opportunity for new relationships. As a professor associated with a set of programs (Counselor Education), most of my workplace relationships have been with the other faculty in our programs. Further, our Counselor Education faculty are on 4th floor of Claxton, while most of EPC is on 5th floor of Bailey. So, as I move to 5th floor of Bailey, it will facilitate building new relationships.

My new role also provides me an opportunity for a broader perspective. Similar to my workplace relationships, my perspective has been primarily to the Counselor Education programs and secondarily to EPC. Now my role requires a broader perspective.

Counselor Education 2016 Group Photo

I am also looking forward to bringing qualities and insights of my counselor identity into my leadership role with EPC. I was initially reluctant to apply for the department head position. This was due to very much enjoying my role as professor and not wanting to give up any significant part of that. But, as I continued to consider the possibility of applying until very close to the due date, what tipped my decision was asking myself, ‘Are there parts of my counselor identity that would inform my work as department head, if selected?’ When I began to form a ‘Yes’ answer, I became excited about applying.

What did you do before you came to UT?
I coordinated a school counseling MS program at a teaching focused institution, where I had been for seven years, including tenure and promotion to assistant professor. Prior to faculty work, I had experience both as a school counselor and clinical mental health counselor, licensed in both areas, and with work experience spanning multiple states and overseas. Before gravitating to counseling as the focus of my career, I was a high school teacher, with particular strengths in reaching very troubled students.

Is there anything else you would like to say?
While I am encouraged for my new role, it is also daunting as I consider the difficult decisions that we will make together in the coming years. I know I need and will continue to ask the support of each faculty and staff member of EPC. We each need to be working as well as we possibly can for our own and each other’s benefit.

Jennifer Moralejo, PhD candidate in Counselor Education, has been chosen as one of ten Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) Leadership Fellows. She is currently the social chair of Upsilon Theta, the CSI chapter at UT Knoxville. Moralejo also serves on the workshop committee and strategic planning committee.

Jennifer Moralejo“I am honored to represent Upsilon Theta through this opportunity. I look forward to meeting and collaborating with Chi Sigma Iota leadership and other selected fellows. Overall, I am excited for this opportunity and the upcoming year.”

Chi Sigma Iota is an international honor society that focuses on promoting academic and professional excellence in counseling. CSI was established in 1985 and was created for counselors-in-training, counselor educators, and professional counselors.
The CSI Leadership Fellows Program is a yearly award designed to cultivate and support graduate counseling students by developing their skills, network, and competencies as future counseling professionals in a changing, multicultural society. When asked what the application process was like Moralejo explained, “Faculty and peers were supportive. Part of this process required that I reflect upon my leadership philosophy and how being a fellow may further develop my ideas, skills, and experiences. It was an honor to even be considered for nomination and definitely surprising and exciting to be selected for the fellowship.”

Moralejo will be attending the American Counseling Association (ACA) Annual Conference and Expo in San Francisco, CA in March 2017. As CSI Leadership Fellow, she will provide a minimum of fifty service hours on a CSI task force/committee and one hundred hours on special projects, attend the CSI Leadership Training, attend CSI activities, receive a $600 grant from CSI, receive a $100 dollar grant from her nominating CSI chapter (Upsilon Theta), and be recognized at the CSI Awards Ceremony during the ACA Annual Conference and Expo.

Alumni Spotlight: Joel Simmons

Rehabilitation Counseling

Joel earned an MS in Counseling with a concentration in the Rehabilitation Counseling program in 2016. He is originally from, and currently lives in, Knoxville, TN. We asked him to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where he’s at now. Read his responses below.

Current Occupation

Counseling & Public Relations
East Tennessee Technology Access Center
Knoxville, TN

I meet with vocational rehabilitation (VR) clients who come here for technology assessments. Through these assessments we can figure out what technology will allow individuals to be successful in school or at work. I’m currently in the process of reaching out to other organizations that serve people with disabilities in East Tennessee. We need to be working in a more cohesive manner trying to serve our population in Knoxville and surrounding counties.

Awards and Accomplishments Earned as a Student

I was asked and joined Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Accomplishments since Graduating

I received the Patricia Neal Outstanding Volunteer Award for 2016. I received this award for my peer mentoring with newly injured spinal cord patients.

I facilitated free Lasik surgery for quadriplegics in East Tennessee. There were many centers in the Southeast that offered these services, but none in Knoxville. Refractive surgeon, Daniel S. Durrie of Durie Vision started offering free Lasik to quadriplegics after seeing a Christopher Reeve special. I coordinated with his office, reached out to local surgeons, and I was Colby Stewart’s, ophthalmologist with Tennessee Lasik, first client.

Personal Interests

I like being outside. My family has a cabin on Lake Douglas and we spend many weekends at the cabin. Market Square is another one of my favorite haunts. With plenty of outdoor dining, wheelchair accessibility, and people watching as a bonus, Market Square is one of my first choices for lunch or dinner. I love music and I like concerts in small venues. Tennessee Theater, the Bijou Theater, and The Shed are three of my favorites.

Since my graduation in August, I’ve tried to involve myself with these many organizations as possible. I still continue to my volunteer work at Patricia Neal, I’m on the Board of Directors for the disAbility Resource Center, which is Knoxville’s Independent Living Center. Recently, I have gotten involved with the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium (KAEC). KAEC works to connect people with disabilities with local businesses for job placement.

Joel Simmons

What sold you on this program/department/university?

It wasn’t what, but whom, that sold me on the program. I was doing volunteer work at Patricia Neal and my VR counselor facilitated a meeting with clinical professor, Wayne Mulkey. It was Mulkey that sold me on the program. I received a lot of personal gratification if I could just get somebody to smile when I visited them at Patricia Neal. Mulkey opened up my eyes to an education that would allow me to help people far beyond just a smile. It never occurred to me to return to school and get a master’s degree in counseling at 53 years of age.

What do you think was the most rewarding/challenging about this program?

It’s hard to say what was the most rewarding and what was the most challenging about this program. Everything about this program challenged me. I was a flight attendant for 23 years and when I started this program I had never used Microsoft Office. I’m a quadriplegic and do not have use of my hands. Halfway through the second semester I began using Dragon Naturally Speaking and a large Trackball for a mouse. This made the actual use of the computer easy, but I still had a lot of difficulty putting papers in APA format and writing and researching at the graduate level. Many times I wanted to quit the program due to both frustration and health issues, but I could’ve never looked Mulkey in the eyes, and by now my other professors had taken a vested interest in teaching. Clinical instructor, Lisa Rimmell, and associate professor, Patrick Dunn, had to have found it challenging to maintain an even keel with the many questions I had during my two years at the University of Tennessee. When asked what was the most rewarding part of the program I would have to say the relationship that developed between teacher and student and my classmates as well.

Did you end up where you thought you would?

I was asked a few times what I planned on doing upon graduation. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I didn’t want to work as a VR counselor because I didn’t want everything to revolve around the client returning to work. Do not get me wrong, I would help anybody that wanted to go to work get a job, but I really want to see people with disabilities engage in life. I thought about starting my own nonprofit and would have considered it a success if I just managed to get two or three people year coming to Market Square on a regular basis.

I did my practicum and internship at East Tennessee Technology Access Center (ETTAC). I was fortunate to be offered a job here after graduation. This job allows me to do everything I wanted to do and more. VR clients are sent here for technology assessments and I’m able to work firsthand with these individuals, but I’m also out in the community forging alliances with other organizations such as the Down Syndrome Awareness group, The Autism Society of East Tennessee, the Cerebral Palsy Center, and recently I made contact with Shangri-La Therapeutic Horses. Not sure how, but I knew when spoke with their executive director that this organization is going to tie-in with what we’re trying to do here at ETTAC. I mentioned earlier that my goal was to get people with disabilities more involved in life in East Tennessee Technology Access Center has the same goal. We hope to develop a community center with our 20,000 sq.ft. building and two acres of land.

“It is sad that this program no longer exists. There is an obvious demand for this degree and the University of Tennessee was the only accredited university offering this degree via computer correspondence. Most of my classmates were already VR counselors, but all of my classmates that were not, have already been hired as VR counselors in various counties and states. I watched the passion with which the doctors and professors taught these classes and it is sad to think that a degree that is so highly sought by employers is no longer taught at the University of Tennessee.”

Student Spotlight: Amanda Johnson-Praino

Instructional Technology

Amanda is currently seeking her MS in education, with a concentration in the Instructional Technology (IT Online) program. Originally from Chattanooga, TN, she received her BS in secondary education: English at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She came to UT Knoxville, and joined EPC, in 2015. We asked her to reflect on some past and current experiences. Read her responses below.


Merit-based UTK IT Online Graduate Student Conference Attendance Award, 2016

  • Recipient of Merit-based UTK IT Online Graduate Student Conference Attendance Award
  • Attended 2016 Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Annual Convention to represent UT’s IT Online program along with faculty and peers
  • Accepted volunteer-based position on Board of Directors as Director of Social Media with Chattanooga chapter of Association for Talent Development (ATD)
  • Refer to Resume for additional details
Current Occupation

Project-based Instructional Designer
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, TN/Remote

Work as part of a collaborative team effort within the Learning Sciences and Instructional Innovations group to create instructor-led materials and resources to support the needs of various stakeholders within the nuclear and radiological security sector.

Personal Interests

I am a foodie at heart and love all things cooking. I enjoy spending time with my wife, Tami, and my dog, Ellie. We love taking Ellie on hikes in the woods, to get ice cream, and to the “puppy” store to get new toys and treats! I enjoy exercising and practicing yoga, as well as exploring new interests as I am always curious enough to learn about something new. My wife and I enjoy traveling when we get a chance, with our favorite vacation spot being New England. We have gone to Cape Cod several times during the summer months and it is just magical. Also, we enjoy spending time in Boston and surrounding cities.

Future/Vocational Goals

My most significant goals include becoming more immersed in the field of instructional design and technology, as it pertains to business and industry, and really sharpening my skill set. I want to continue gaining first-hand experience in the design of effective learning environments and instructional materials, while also focusing on the delivery of engaging instructor-led training (ILT) and virtual instructor-led training (VILT). Additionally, I have developed quite an interest in the visual design/creative aspects of being an instructional designer, and I want to continue enhancing these skills as they pertain to both instructional and graphic design roles.

What sold you on this program?

What really sold me on this program was the convenience of it being offered fully online through both synchronous and asynchronous technologies. As a full-time working professional and adult learner, it is very enticing to know there exists an in-state program based in instructional design and technology that can be completed entirely from within my home.

What do you think has been the most rewarding/challenging about this program?

For me, one of the most rewarding aspects of this program has centered on the relationships I have been in from the start. I have connected with professors from whom I have learned more than I could have imagined, as well as peers with whom I have progressed through the program from day one. I feel like I am a part of something through these relationships, and I am very grateful for the mentorships and friendships, respectively, I have created along the way.