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Alumni Spotlight

Megan Herscher

Counselor Education

Megan earned a PhD with the Counselor Education program in 2013. She is originally from Ocean Township, NJ and currently lives in Knoxville, TN. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Assistant Professor & Coordinator
Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program
Carson-Newman University
Jefferson City, TN

Awards and Accomplishments Earned as a Student
  • Recipient of Dean Wallace $15,000 Fellowship, University of Tennessee, 2010
Accomplishments since Graduating
  • Voted Smoky Mountain Region’s Counselor Educator of the Year, 2015
Personal Interests

Running, and hanging out with all my children.

What sold you on this program?

What sold me on the program were the professors, they were as engaging and attentive during the interview process as they were throughout my time there. I still so much appreciate the mentorship and friendships I developed there.

What was the most memorable experience during your time here?

My most memorable experience was going through the first semester of the program pregnant, which I found to be the most challenging semester to acclimate to. I delivered my daughter the day after classes ended and kept on going!

Did you end up where you thought you would?

I truly believed that I would continue to work in a clinical setting when I entered the program. As I grew personally and professionally I realized that teaching was my calling, and that clinical work needed to take a back seat, for now.

Alumni Spotlight: Anthony Capers

Adult Education

Anthony earned an MS in educational psychology with a concentration in the Adult Education program (part of EdPsych Online) in 2016. He is originally from Orangeburg, SC and currently lives in Lexington, SC. We asked him to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where he’s at now. Read his responses below.

Current Occupation

Case Manager
Epworth Children’s Home
Columbia, SC

I am currently a case manager for adolescent boys transitioning out of foster care, at Epworth Children’s Home in Columbia, SC. I manage the logistics of my clients’ lives, which includes anything legally, educationally, and/or medically related.

Awards and Accomplishments Earned as a Student
  • Psychology Student of the Year | 4/18/14
    This award represents a psychology undergraduate student that demonstrated extraordinary academic work in the field of psychology.
  • Dean’s & Chancellor’s List | 2010-2014
    These awards were granted to students who obtained either a 3.0 or 3.5 by the end of each semester.
Accomplishments since Graduating

Obtaining my master’s degree and moving into my first apartment.

Personal Interests

Personal hobbies I enjoy are reading, writing, watching Netflix/Hulu, and spending time with my girlfriend, family, and friends. I also enjoy botany, specifically under water (freshwater) plants, I’ve been a fan of aquatic plants for a long time, and am about to acquire some for my apartment.

What sold you on this program?

I was completely sold on this program by the start of my senior year of undergrad, after doing extensive research and learning that it was completely online and had an adult education concentration.

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

For me personally, the most rewarding/challenging aspect of this program, was overcoming my discomfort of vocal participation in class. It’s an issue I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, and I’m glad I was encouraged to enact my full potential.

How did your experiences as a student help you in your professional/personal life after graduation?

I used a lot of my professional experiences as the foundation for most of my academic work as a grad student. As I researched core aspects of social science and various factors of my work, it allowed me to expand my perspective as a case manager.

“I am honored to have been accepted by and graduated from a program as engaging and prestigious as the EPC EdPsych Online master’s program. It has graced me with lifelong connections and knowledge that I will forever cherish, both personally and professionally.”

Instructional Technology

Lisa earned an MS in education with a concentration in the Instructional Technology, or IT Online, program in 2015. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Information & Technology Manager / Consultant III
Municipal Technical Advisory Service
Institute for Public Service
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN

I provide IT consulting and professional development opportunities to Tennessee municipal governments in the areas of cyber security and data assurance. I develop and maintain multiple databases for our internal processes and am responsible for our website.

Awards and Accomplishments Earned as a Student
  • Phi Kappa Phi – 2015
Accomplishments since Graduating

A colleague and I presented at the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE) in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2016. The presentation, “Building Lifelong Learning Skills through Peer-Supported Formative Assessment”, came directly from a class project. This was my first academic paper presentation and I was thrilled to see the number of attendees at the session. Gaining feedback and insight from others really enhanced my experience as a presenter.

Personal Interests

I am finishing my second year as a doctoral student in the LEEDS (Learning Environments and Educational Studies) program and I don’t have a lot of free time. The time I do have is prioritized for my family and my health. I have a blast spending time with my sons and watching them discover their passions in life. I also enjoy time at the gym and working to improve my physical strength and endurance. Plus its a great stress reducer!

What sold you on this program?

My department began looking at providing online courses to our customers in 2011/12. We wanted to enable municipal officials, who were not available to attend a daytime face-to-face training class, professional development opportunities. Going online seemed the way to go. I started the IT master’s program to increase my knowledge about educational theory, online learning, and assessment. I was sold on the IT program when I discovered that I could attend online and be home in the evenings with my children. I thought it was fitting that a program about IT was offered online – we were learning in the same format as we would be teaching!

What would you tell an incoming student in the program?

I would tell an incoming IT Online student to take advantage of each and every opportunity to collaborate with your peers and your professors. I learned so much from others during my program and established relationships that I will continue for many years to come.

Did you end up where you thought you would?

I had been out of school for a very long time when I began the IT Online program. I never would have guessed that my desire to learn how I might best implement online learning at work would turn into a six year academic career resulting in multiple degrees. I developed a love for learning new skills in an academic setting and taking on new challenges. When associate professor, Lisa Yamagata-Lynch, mentioned the LEEDS program to our IT cohort, I realized that I did not want my academic career to end and spoke with her about what it would take to become a student in the doctoral program. I have discovered that I thoroughly enjoy the academic environment, the challenge of producing valuable research, and would like to teach at the college level in the future. This is far from my starting goal yet my experiences in EPC have led me to a new understanding of what I’d like to do next in my career.

“The IT Online program is fabulous and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in online learning.”

Alumni Spotlight: Erin Mehalic BurrEvaluation, Statistics & Measurement

Erin earned a PhD in educational psychology and research with a concentration in evaluation and assessment (now known as the Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement program) in 2009. She is originally from Surry, VA and currently lives in Knoxville, TN. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Senior Evaluator & Section Manager of Assessment & Evaluation (A&E)
Scientific Assessment & Workforce Development (SAWD)
Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU)
Oak Ridge, TN

I manage the SAWD A&E team at ORAU. My team evaluates STEM education and workforce development programs for the US Department of Energy, other US government agencies, and ORAU that target K-12 students and teachers; university students and faculty; and PhD-level researchers. Our focus has been on evaluating federally funded programs at national laboratories and universities.

Awards and Accomplishments Earned as a Student
  • Lots of travel grants to attend professional conferences to give presentations. (2004-2009)
Accomplishments since Graduating

My greatest accomplishment was the opportunity to develop my own evaluation team, the Assessment and Evaluation group at ORAU. I started at ORAU in 2009 as a postdoctoral fellow in evaluation, and was hired as a full-time employee in 2011. Since then, I have grown our STEM Workforce Development (WD) evaluation portfolio to include a diverse set of approximately 30 evaluation projects. Projects in our portfolio include annual evaluations of STEM WD programs and program portfolios at national laboratories and other federal agencies, longitudinal evaluations of portfolios of STEM WD programs for national laboratories and federal agencies, external evaluations of NSF and NIH grants awarded to Principal Investigators at universities, evaluations of processes for federal agencies, and evaluations of support services at national laboratories. Now, I manage a team of 5 full-time employees that I absolutely love. I am likely to hire a few more people in the near future as business continues to grow.

Other highlighted accomplishments include:

  • One project that I am particularly proud of is the evaluation I designed and implemented for the portfolio of STEM workforce development programs at the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. This evaluation was selected as an exemplary evaluation by the STEM Education & Training Evaluation Topical Interest Group of the American Evaluation Association. Later, I have became the Chair of that Topical Interest Group and have had the opportunity to take a greater leadership role in STEM workforce development evaluation outside of ORAU.
  • This past year, in the 70th anniversary edition of the ORAU annual report, I was recognized as a thought leader in our organization.
Personal Interests

Spending time with family, going on vacations to the beach, and relaxing on my screened-in porch.

Causes I support:

  • Protecting the environment, nature conservation, and protecting wildlife – I grew up next to a state park.
  • Mental health – I have personal experience struggling with mental health and have worked hard to be successful despite my challenges. I strive to impress upon others that mental health is not something to be ashamed of or for others to judge. We need to support people with mental health challenges, because with the right support systems, they can do amazing things.
  • People with disabilities – my daughter has a rare chromosome disorder that has presented her with many challenges, yet she is the happiest little girl despite it all. She inspires me. Before I had kids and my hobbies didn’t pose a safety risk to them, I enjoyed wood carving and making jewelry.
What was a memorable experience during your time here?

I had never attended a university with a football team before – UT is quite the place to land for a first-time university football experience. Sooo much fun!

What would you tell an incoming/current student in the program/department?

Make sure you develop strong project management skills along with evaluation skills. The larger, more complex a program is, the more relevant they are to your success. Project management is very important for many evaluation positions. Even if someone else is serving in the project manager role on an evaluation you are conducting, understanding all that project management involves will make you a better team member.

Did you end up where you thought you would?

No – I thought I would have to go to Washington DC, but I got a great job doing what I love in Oak Ridge, TN.

“I see the fields of evaluation, statistics, and measurement being more important than ever and anticipate that there will continue to be plenty of job opportunities for our graduates as a result.”

School Counseling

Amber earned an MS in counseling with a concentration in the School Counseling program in 2010. She is originally from Memphis, TN and currently lives in Knoxville, TN. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

School Counselor
Christenberry Elementary School
Knox County
Knoxville, TN

I am currently working as the school counselor at Christenberry Elementary in Knox County where I provide individual and small group counseling, classroom guidance lessons, and consultation with staff, parents, and other school stakeholders.

Awards and Accomplishments Earned as a Student
  • Outstanding Student Award, 2009, “for excellent performance in the classroom, development of professional identity as a counselor, and development of helping skills”
  • Outstanding Student Award, 2010, “outstanding role model”
  • Chi Sigma Iota secretary, 2009-2010
Accomplishments since Graduating

For the last several years I have worked as the Family Engagement Committee chairperson at our school. This group is responsible for planning events that offer parents an opportunity to spend quality time with their children and learn ways to enhance academic success at home. When I started working at Christenberry in 2009, these events were not well-attended, typically bringing in less than 100 people (sometimes less than 50). After a few years of disappointing turn-outs, we made some critical changes to these events, and our attendance sky-rocketed. We now see several hundred parents, children, and family members at our events, and our school-wide parental involvement has dramatically increased. It has been such a joy to play a part in strengthening that crucial relationship between the school and home lives of our students.

Personal Interests

My husband and I welcomed our first child, Penelope Rose, into the world last March. Much of our time is spent playing with her and watching in amazement as she grows and changes everyday. I also teach workout classes at Neighborhood Barre, a local fitness studio, where I enjoy exercising and having some “me-time” several times a week.

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

The most rewarding part of the school counseling program, for me, was the confidence I had as I entered into my first job. I was hired during the latter part of my internship, and even though I had not yet graduated, I knew I had the tools I needed to start building a comprehensive, developmental program at my school. The support and encouragement I received from my professors as I started my job is something I will always be grateful for.

Did you end up where you thought you would?

When I started the program, I felt certain that I wanted to work in a middle school. I wanted to be a school counselor so that I could help pre-teens navigate the changes and challenges that come with adolescent-hood. After spending just my practicum in an elementary school, however, I realized that I was destined to work with the K-5 population. I’m thankful that we were encouraged to experience a variety of grade levels, because my heart is definitely in the elementary world!

What do you remember most from your time here?

One of the most memorable experiences I had during the program came from an assignment in group. We were asked to attend a real-life, group session somewhere in the community and write about our experience. My plan was to find a group where I could blend in, and simply act as a fly on the wall during the session. After I arrived to the session I chose, I soon realized that only one other person would be joining the facilitator and I that night. What could have been a could have been a very uncomfortable hour turned into an incredibly meaningful experience for me. I had no idea that I would be affected in the way that I was, and I learned an important lesson about the power of group counseling.