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Joel Diambra

Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Emily earned an MS in counseling with a concentration in the Mental Health Counseling program in 2009. Originally from Irmo, SC, she now 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

Outpatient Clinician
Helen Ross McNabb Therapy Center
Knoxville, TN

The Therapy Center provides individual and family services including trauma related treatment for individuals of all ages, in particular survivors of childhood sexual abuse, as well as other forms of abuse and neglect. I provide therapy for the child and adolescent referrals. I also coordinate the services provided under the Project Against the Sexual Abuse of Appalachian Children (PASAAC) grant we receive through United Way, which includes the facilitation of a psycho-educational support group for Non-Offending Parents and caregivers of children who have been sexually abused and other forms of community outreach.

Awards and Accomplishments Earned as a Student

I presented with Marianne Woodside and other selected students “It’s all about me: Viewing adolescent challenges through case studies” at the Smoky Mountain Counseling Association conference in September of 2008. I also served as secretary of Chi Sigma Iota in April of 2008 – 2009.

Accomplishments since Graduating

I recently participated in the “Child Sexual Abuse-Awareness, Prevention, and Response” video through my work with the Community Coalition to Protect Children, which was created by the Knox County School District to be used for training purposes with the Knox County School teachers.

Personal Interests

I love watching football, do it yourself projects, being outside and spending time with my dog, Folly. I got married to a good ole Tennessee boy at the end of October, and we hope to eventually re-locate to Charleston, SC with the rest of my family.

What sold you on this program?

What initially sold me on this program was the fact that the focus was on mental health counseling, instead of “community counseling” which was the title given to the degree at the other universities I was considering. I also realized that while it was a longer program, I was going to graduate fully prepared and certified to start my career as a counselor. However, I have to say that more important than what sold me on the program was what kept me in the program, which was the family type atmosphere created with the other individuals in my cohort, and the belief that the professors truly cared about me and wanted me to succeed.

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

I think that the most rewarding/challenging part of the program was finding and defining myself as an individual, as well as a mental health counselor. It can be quite the daunting task to examine and challenge personally held beliefs and values, however it is a necessary task in order for one to develop a sense of self and where this self fits into the counseling profession.

Did you end up where you thought you would?

I thought I would be working with adults at this point in my career, in particular criminal offenders because in school that was where my interests lay. I thought that I could never work with children because it would just be too hard. However, my job led me to families which ultimately caused my supervisor and myself to come to the conclusion that I have an uncanny ability to reach and work with children. I am glad that the program provided me with enough education and sense to see that children and adolescents who have experienced abuse and neglect was my true calling, many of whom without the help face a higher probability of turning to a life of crime.

There is a certain sense of pride you feel when you come across another person who has been through the program, and the question that usually follows is “Spurgeon, Diambra, or Cochran?”

Alumni Spotlight: Beverly Anderson

School Counseling

Anderson earned an EdS with the School Counseling program in 2006. Originally from Knoxville, she still lives and works in the city. We asked her to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where she’s at now. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Secondary School Counseling at Knox County Schools

As a facilitator, I am responsible for training, professional development, and program development for middle and high school counselors in the district.

Awards and Accomplishments Earned as a Student
  • Eugene and Mary Sue Akins Graduate Fellowship
  • For the most part, I was working full-time at UT Knoxville while getting my EdS. As Director of Undergraduate Academic Services, I was responsible for First Year Studies, National Student Exchange, Undergraduate Academic Appeals Committee, and the academic programming for the Volunteer Living-Learning Community.
  • At the end of my studies, I left my full-time job for a graduate assistantship in Career Services to finish my EdS.
  • During my internship, I was offered an interim position at Ball Camp Elementary school where I served as M.A.P.S. Counselor for three days a week.


Accomplishments since Graduating

The most touching honor I received was receiving the W. R. Turner Award in 2011. This award was the top award given by students to faculty. When I was honored,  it was the first and only time a School Counselor was honored. The fact that it was given by students meant the world to me because, to quote a wise principal (John Bartlett), “It’s about the students.”

The next greatest honor was being in the top 16 semi-finalists and the first cohort of school counselors to be honored at the White House! The recognition that this award ceremony gave school counselors across the country was a pivotal moment for our profession. It was not about the personal honor; but rather about the importance of our work being recognized. I’ve seen conversations shift locally, statewide, regionally, and in the country about the importance of school counseling.

Personal Interests

Writing, walking, public speaking, humorous skits. As a mother, I have been an advocate at local, regional, and national fronts to enrich families whose lives have been graced with Down syndrome.


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

Completing the program while working full-time and raising two children was personally rewarding. It was a challenge that seemed extremely difficult, but when sitting in the movie theater with my son during my first “summer” as a secondary educator and hearing Nathan say, “This is awesome!” I knew then that the challenge was worth it.

What was the most memorable experience during your time here?

Joel Diambra’s TMI moment during Group.

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

I think the single most significant experience as a student that shaped my professional life after graduation was Jeanine Studer’s encouraging us to become involved in our state organizations. Myself and many of my classmates became and are still active in SMCA, TCA, and TSCA. The connections made across Tennessee have helped shaped me as a professional in ways I would not have grown otherwise.

“If you can keep the well-being of students at the center of your work, most everything else will fall into place.” – Beverly Dickerson Anderson