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American Counseling Association

Shawn Spurgeon


Shawn Spurgeon, associate professor, received the 2018 American Counseling Association (ACA) Counselor Educator Advocacy Award.


This award recognizes a counselor educator for work in fostering an awareness of, and expertise in, advocacy among counseling students.

ACA believes it is vital to the continued health and wellbeing of the counseling profession that its members become interested and engaged in advocacy and the policymaking process, and fell comfortable and effective in doing so.


Counselor Education’s first-year doctoral cohort – Kertesha Riley, Wes Allen, Jessica Marzi, and Gerald Spangler – placed first in the American Counseling Association (ACA) Graduate Student Ethics Competition.

The ACA Ethics Committee explains this competition allows graduate students to critically analyze a scenario and create an appropriate decision-making plan to respond to the ethical dilemma.

Read below to learn about their experiences throughout this competition.

Kertesha Riley

What was it like working with your cohort?
The competition started early fall semester, so we still were new as a cohort and new to the program. Looking back, there were times I second guessed our decision – wondering if it was naïve of us to take on this challenge while adjusting to our first year as doctoral students! Early on, we each had strong opinions about what we should be considering in the case and solutions to the prompt, and that caused some interesting debates throughout the six weeks of the competition. In the end though, I think it helped us learn more about each other’s personalities, our (growing) counselor educator identities, and even our working styles. Ultimately, I believe that helped us connect in ways we may missed if we had not done something like this.

How did it feel to win this award?
When we were first notified, we were definitely excited about the news! However, I don’t think we understood the gravity of the announcement until word reached our department. Our team was the first team from UT Knoxville to place first in the competition! The congratulations we received from faculty and other students was like icing on the cake after all of the hard work we put into the competition. Also, with me being a part-time student, it made me feel like I was truly a part of the program now.

Is there anything else you would like to say?
When we first signed up for the competition, I said “we better at least get first” LOL It was joke (sort of!), but I believe that statement ended up motivating us throughout the competition. It was tough, but I really appreciated the perspectives and commitment each of my cohort members brought to the team, and I believe that’s what helped us secure first place!

Wes Allen

What was it like working with your cohort?
It was exciting, and challenging at the same time. I appreciated that we felt comfortable enough to challenge each other, and were able to do so in a way that ultimately brought us much closer together.

How did it feel to win this award?
I was relieved that all our our hard word was really worth something. I don’t think much of it sank in until our professors explained to us what an honor it was to be selected.

Is there anything else you would like to say?
I’d like my teammates and cohort members to know that even without the win I think they are exceptional people, counselors, and scholars.

Jessica Marzi

What was it like working with your cohort?
It was good yet hard because we were trying to coordinate schedules, which feels even harder when everyone is a doc student. The nice part was collaborating together and seeing each other in a different capacity from class.

How did it feel to win this award?
It was extremely satisfying because UT Knoxville hasn’t won it before, and we felt we were able to contribute something that shows the strength of the program.

Gerald Spangler

What was it like working with your cohort?
I enjoyed working with our team because of the flexibility we displayed. This competition was our first project together, but outside of that, we all had, and still have, different personal and academic requirements and timelines. However, each member’s personal flexibility allowed us to work past those considerations and focus on the competition. Collectively as a group, I thought that flexibility allowed us to bring a wide range of views, experiences, and ideas to the table.

How did it feel to win this award?
It felt great to win this award and I am proud of what we accomplished as a team. There are a lot of great ways to describe this experience, but I had a chance to see individual leadership and team-oriented qualities shine during this process. It also feels pretty good realizing that I was a member of a team of future professionals headed to the counselor education field.

Is there anything else you would like to say?
I am proud of my cohort and glad that I was given an opportunity to learn through and with them during our time together. They are solid professionals and I look forward to future projects and challenging opportunities.

Casey Barrio Minton, associate professor, is the 2017 recipient of the American Counseling Association (ACA) Arthur A. Hitchcock Distinguished Professional Service Award. This award honors service by an ACA member at the local, state, or national level in promoting the well-being of the counseling profession. It is the most well-established national award still given by the ACA, having started in 1975.
Casey Barrio-Minton

“I serve the organizations I serve because I believe our collective work facilitates a context in which professional counselors can develop their skills and serve their communities. On one hand, the recognition feels deeply meaningful and affirming because it reflects back an important part of my identity. On the other, it feels somewhat incongruent; I serve because I believe we have a collective responsibility to our profession and our community, not for individual recognition or reward.”

Barrio Minton was nominated for this award by the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling (AARC), a division of ACA for which she has served as president. She will be recognized and awarded during a ceremony held at the ACA Annual Conference and Expo in San Francisco, CA from March 16-19, 2017.

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.

Everett Painter, PhD student in Counselor Education, received the Association for Humanistic Counseling (AHC) Emerging Leader award and placed second in the Leadership Essay Contest co-sponsored by Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Everett Painter accepting the CSI Leadership Fellowship award.

Painter received these honors and accepted his CSI Leadership Fellowship at the American Counseling Association (ACA) Annual Conference & Expo in Montreal, Canada.

When asked how he found out about these opportunities, he said, “our professional organizations regularly publicize opportunities for grants, workshops, and other ways to engage in the profession.”

The AHC Emerging Leaders Program opens applications up yearly to new professionals and students at the master’s and doctoral level.

Painter said, “I value humanistic philosophy and strive to make it an integral part of my professional life. The emerging leader position will help me grow in leadership and advocacy by allowing for interaction with AHC leaders, mentorship, support, and a deepened awareness of governing structure and processes. I believe my goals relative to full engagement in our field will be uniquely informed by the opportunities provided by this experience.”

As an Emerging Leader, he must provide at least fifty hours of service to an AHC committee or task, will receive free registration for the 2016 AHC Conference, and can learn what responsibilities are associated with elected officials in the organization.

Everett Painter accepting the AHC Emerging Leader award.

The CSI/CACREP Leadership Essay Contest had a topic of transformational leadership.

Painter explained, “In the case of transformational leadership we first work on ourselves as we are the primary instruments of change in lives we encounter. It behooves us to recognize we are forever on the pathway of becoming. There is no end point. If we are to inspire others we must always be mindful of constantly improving ourselves. Fully engaging in our profession and investing in this way is done from a position of service, not personal gain or promotion. The stronger we can be the better we may serve.”

Along with second place came two hundred dollars, a one-year membership renewal in CSI, and his essay was published on the CSI website.

Everett Painter“I am grateful for these opportunities and deeply appreciative of the support and encouragement provided by faculty and peers at UT Knoxville.”