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Faculty Spotlight


The Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling is pleased to welcome newest faculty member, Hyunhee Kim.

Kim joins the department as an Assistant Professor, and will teach courses in School Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and Counselor Education beginning in fall 2022. Profile photo of Hyunhee Kim, PhD, newest faculty member of the Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling

Kim earned a dual major BA in Education & Ethics Education from Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea in 2003, as well as a Master’s in Educational Counseling from Seoul National University in 2008. A PhD in Counselor Education will be awarded from The Pennsylvania State University (CACREP-accredited) in 2022.

Kim holds additional certifications as a Professional Counselor from The Korea Counseling Association, and School Counseling and Teaching Certificates from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Korean Ministry of Education. She was named the 2018 “Emerging Leader” by the NARACES, and received the “Exemplary Doctoral Research & Practice Award” from the AARC in 2020.

Hyunhee’s research primarily focuses on the role of relationships in educational settings. “I am particularly interested in developmental assets and protective factors that help students thrive, regardless of the adversities they may encounter.”

Hyunhee credits her upbringing on the beautiful Jeju Island, South Korea, for her deeply instilled values of “peace, collaboration, and adaptability,” which she looks forward to contributing as a Tennessee Volunteer and leader. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her family, practicing yoga and meditation, and enjoying music.

The Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling is honored to gain Hyunhee Kim on its team.

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Leia Cain

Educational Psychology & Counseling’s Dr. Leia Cain, Assistant Professor of Evaluation, Statistics & Methodology, discussed some of her research on February 9 in the first virtual lecture of a series hosted by The Commission for LGBT People and the UT Pride Center.

Leia Cain, an Assistant Professor for the Educational Psychology & Counseling PhD Program in Evaluation, Statistics & Measurement, kicked off the UT Pride Center’s latest lecture series on February 9 with a compelling talk entitled, “Spilling the (Sweet) Tea: How Southern U.S. Queer Students Thrive in Icy University Climates.”

Cain holds a PhD from the University of South Carolina. Her current research focuses on “LGBTQ+ Student and Faculty Experiences in Higher Education.”Photo of a mason jar filled with sweet tea and a straw, set on an outdoor table.

Among the topics discussed in the lecture, Cain shared her recent research on the positive and negative experiences of LGBTQ+ students and faculty in Southern culture, and how institutions can be more inclusive.

For more information about this lecture, and to register for upcoming lectures, visit the UT Pride Center in the Student Union, room 373, M-F 8am-5pm.

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Counselor Education

Casey A. Barrio Minton joined the University of Tennessee and the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling as an associate professor for Counselor Education in August of 2015. We asked her to reflect on her first semester here. Read her responses below.

What sold you on UT?
I had the opportunity to serve on professional boards with several counselor education faculty members and students over the years, so I already knew a bit about the program and program values.  When preparing for my campus visit, I found myself intrigued with just how well the counselor education program seemed to fit with my professional values.  Finally, when visiting campus, I found myself both impressed with faculty accomplishments and at home with faculty, staff, and students.  It just felt right.

What do you think was most rewarding or challenging about being a new faculty member?
I have been a faculty member before, so I am quite used to roles and responsibilities.  Although learning new people, places, and procedures takes time and energy, doing so also opens the door for new opportunities.  I have very much enjoyed developing relationships with colleagues and students, discovering mutual interests, and finding ways to grow together.

What has been your most memorable experience this semester?
I am serving as co-faculty advisor for our program’s chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, the honor society for professional counselors.  Recently, we had an opportunity to induct new members into the society.  Our initiates brought friends and family to celebrate, all faculty members attended, and we had a chance to just be together while sharing in the occasion.

What’s your favorite activity outside of work.
I have a toddler, and we love exploring new places together.  She loved exploring the mountains in the fall — and I can’t wait to help her discover waterfalls this spring.


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Instructional Technology

Craig D. Howard joined the University of Tennessee and the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling as an assistant professor for Instructional Technology in August of 2015. We asked him to reflect on his first semester here. Read his responses below.

What sold you on UT?
I was already familiar with a number of EPC faculty members’ research from reading, and I already knew about the synchronous online approach— so I jumped on the chance to apply. I was excited when my value system revolving around online learning matched so well with faculty here. I was sold before I got to the airport to head home.

What do you think was most rewarding or challenging about being a new faculty member?
Every new place takes a while to learn. I kind of expected that, but what I did not expect was such a warm welcome from students and colleagues. I have made an effort to be on campus as much as possible this past year and I think that has paid off in a good rapport with the people I have met so far.

What has been your most memorable experience this semester?
The sense of community in the online classes among students would be the most memorable set of events, for sure.

Name one fact about yourself that most people don’t know.
I have an uncanny ability to get myself food poisoned. I have lost count on how many times so far; my strategy of selecting the most unusual item on the menu has proven adventurous but also sometimes debilitating.


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Associate Department Head &
Director of Graduate Studies

Joel F. Diambra joined the University of Tennessee in 1999 in the Counseling, Deafness, and Human Services Department. Diambra has been part of the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling since 2003. He currently serves as associate department head and director of graduate studies in EPC and is an associate professor in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Counselor Education, and School Counseling programs. We asked him to reflect on his experiences. Read his responses below.

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What are some different roles you’ve served at UT and/or within EPC?
At UT, I was an assistant professor and now associate professor. I currently serve as a member of the Graduate School Student Diversity Enhancement Committee. I’ve also served on the Faculty Senate and Athletic Committee for a 3-year term. I’ve enjoyed being a Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program Mentor for a number of years, Office of Disability Services Admissions Appeals Committee member, visited incoming freshmen via House Calls, facilitated Life of the Mind to incoming freshmen, and teach two ongoing FYS 129 courses.

Within EPC I’ve served as a Human Services Field Experience Coordinator, Peer Mentoring Coordinator, School and Clinical Mental Health Program Committee Faculty Member, Counselor Education PhD Program Coordinator, and most recently Associate Department Head and Director of Graduate Studies. I have served as committee member and currently serve as a search chair for a faculty position search.

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What are a few of your most recent accomplishments?
I recently won a state award and had three very recent efforts that led to students presenting and publishing for the first time.

  1. In November 2015, the Tennessee Association for Counselor Education and Supervision Chapter honored me with the Charles Thompson Counselor Educator of the Year Award.
  2. Brittany Pollard, Rose Gamble, Bre Banks and I just had Teaching a Human Sexuality Course: What are Students Thinking? accepted for publication in the American Journal of Sexuality Education.
  3. Eric Heidel, John Breckner, Jeannine Studer and I just received notification that Psychometric Properties of the School Counselor National Model® Activity Scale (SCNMAS) will be published in the upcoming Tennessee Counseling Association Journal.
  4. In December 2015, Brooke Bagley (CMHC alumnus and current clinical supervisee) and I had our ACA presentation and subsequent manuscript focused on her work as a Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor accepted for publication in Counseling Today. I believe this is Brooke’s first publication. She was also accepted to present a workshop on this topic at the Tennessee Counseling Association and Smoky Mountain Counseling Association.
  5. I have been providing supervision to 3 current doctoral students with a focus on diversity/multiculturalism: Jennifer Moralejo, Derrick Shepard, and Nathan West. With their leadership, we submitted a newsletter manuscript outlining our efforts and it was accepted for publication in the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES) Newsletter. We also submitted proposals regarding our efforts to conduct a Tennessee Counseling Association workshop and American Counseling Association poster session, coming spring 2016 in Montreal, Canada. Both were accepted. I find great satisfaction in assisting current and former students achieve accomplishments for the first time.

In an attempt to help others first coming to UT, complete the following statement: If I knew then what I know now about UT, I would…

  1. Buy a bicycle or hover board as my work transportation. You can park a whole lot easier and closer without a car.
  2. Start boasting about UT sports. Over time, I’ve been amazed at a how well UT does nationally in various athletic venues: women’s basketball, women’s softball, track and field, swimming/diving, tennis, men’s basketball, and men’s football. “It’s great… to be… a Tennessee Vol.”

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What do you think you would be doing if you weren’t in academia?
I can think of three things I’d likely be doing:

  1. Buying low and selling high. 🙂 One of my hobbies is purchasing cars and motorcycles (and just about anything if the price is right), repairing them, enjoying them for a period of time and selling them for a profit.
  2. I would likely be building a counseling practice too. Before entering academia, I had already established my own private practice and considered expanding the practice to include a host of other therapists to provide comprehensive therapeutic services.
  3. I would likely be living overseas or traveling/living for long stretches of time in foreign lands. I back packed around the world for one year when I was 23 and could easily see myself moving to, settling-in, and working in different countries for about 1-3 year stints.

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What sold you on UT?
The faculty. When I interviewed I was impressed with the faculty. They were bright, energetic, warm, genuine, challenging, and supportive. I had applied for a position in Australia and was one of three finalists. Australia was my 1st choice; however, I ended up being their 2nd choice. I remember being so disappointed until I received an amazing follow-up email after my interview from Sky Huck. I cried when I read his email, realizing UT Knoxville was really the right place for me. I still have that email.

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What do you think has been the most rewarding about your work in EPC?
In my role as a professor, it is most rewarding to assist students in achieving new accomplishments (e.g., presenting or publishing). As an administrator, realizing overall just how amazing and strong (i.e., students, staff, and faculty) we are as a department!

Diambra with three students.

Name one fact about yourself that most people don’t know.
I lived in Brazil as a child, married in Japan during my world-wide backpacking trip, and minored in Japanese and Southeast Asian Studies. Okay, that’s 3 facts. I’m also very good at not following directions. Oops, 4 facts.

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