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Upsilon Theta

The Upsilon Theta Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota (CSI), is the 2017 recipient of the CSI Outstanding Individual Program Award for its engagement with the Odd Fellows Cemetery Project. This award honors a chapter program that provides outstanding community service or professional development. The criteria include planning, committee involvement, length of time, recruitment strategies, advertising, media, and attendance at program. Two people were integral to this award – current service chair Justin Hawkersmith, and past service chair Kevin Webster.

Justin is a master’s student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program and co-chaired the position with Kevin last fall. Kevin (’16) is an alumni of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program and became the service chair in 2015. With the guidance and support of current and past faculty advisors (Casey Barrio Minton and Shawn Spurgeon, respectively), they helped create and grow relationships Upsilon Theta built with the Knoxville Reanimation Coalition and Katherine Ambroziak (associate professor from the College of Architecture and Design), who heads the project at the Odd Fellows Cemetery.

Kevin said, “I was sincerely elated and surprised, not because I didn’t think our project was worthy of recognition, but because I had not done anything like this before. Although recognition is not necessary, it can help keep momentum going for an organization. It can stimulate even bigger and better ideas and growth. I hope the award motivates others who join CSI to think about not only what they can do but also what is possible. I am also excited for what this means for the Knoxville Reanimation Coalition, the group whose mission it is to maintain, revitalize, and enhance the East Knoxville community. I think they are doing some of the most important work in Knoxville. They don’t do it for recognition; they engage in hard work to improve the neighborhood that is home to them.”

Justin expressed, “I am truly honored to be receiving this award and to see how Kevin and Katherine Ambroziak’s hard work has paid off. If there is anything I would like to add to this piece, it would be how important service and advocacy (the driving force of service) are to the counseling profession. If we truly want to serve our clients whether we are in schools or in mental health settings, we need to be active and intentional members of our community, and I think service events through Chi Sigma Iota are excellent way to begin that meaningful process of engagement.”

Kevin explained the application process:

Every fall, CSI opens applications for chapter awards and student nominations for national positions. Casey Barrio Minton (associate professor), our current chapter advisor and long-time member of CSI, encouraged us to apply for the chapter award. I agreed with her that I thought it was a good idea, and I was happy to help. I honestly did not think we would have a chance because I thought the relationship was too new. However, since CSI-UT’s participation in the the Odd Fellows Cemetery project, our student engagement in service activities improved tremendously – in part because of the uniqueness of the project itself, in part from some new enthusiasm coming from the student board, and in part because I think there are some emerging ideas coming from the counseling community regarding social justice and community-level work that individual “therapy” simply does not address. Service and building community relationships are critical aspects of my life that I love and want to share with others, and I tried to provide that opportunity for anyone who was interested while I was service chair. So, naturally, I think others picked up on that.

Justin Hawkersmith and myself worked on the application proposal with Casey Barrio Minton and Katherine Ambroziak to submit letters of recommendation for the project. We spoke on not only what it meant to engage CSI counseling members in a project that was off campus and in a predominantly black community but also on the importance and meaning of the project itself. The cemetery represents an important part of black history and black heritage in Knoxville, and its current dilapidated state is worth the reflection and attention of the greater Knoxville community. Counselors, who more often than not are white and middle class, will go on to work with individuals from a variety of communities different than their own, but may not have an in-depth understanding of those communities and the issues within them. Given the current climate of our society, it is integral more than ever that organizations and university groups build and foster relationships and work on real problems.

Barrio Minton really helped make the process easy. Writing the application was the easy part, because the project meant a lot to me and Justin and I hoped to really see it continue even after I graduated from the program. Barrio Minton really helped pull it together, helped us stay organized, and made sure we had what we needed to submit a quality proposal.

Upsilon Theta was recognized and awarded during a ceremony held at the ACA Annual Conference and Expo in San Francisco, CA from March 16-19, 2017.

For more information about this project, check out the following Counselor Education blog stories:
CSI-UT Sponsors Service Event at Odd Fellows Cemetery
CSI-UT Returns to Odd Fellows Cemetery to Continue Service
CSI-UT Sponsors Service Event at Odd Fellows Cemetery

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.

The Counselor Education program in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling is hosting “Social Justice and Mental Health,” a workshop for helping professionals, on February 24, 2017. The workshop will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. in Hodges Library, Room 101. The workshop will be led by Catharina Chang, a professor of Counseling and Psychological Services at Georgia State University.

Chang has published and presented in the areas of social justice and advocacy, multicultural counseling competence, privilege and oppression issues and counseling implications related to Asian American and Korean American clients. She is past-president of the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development.

The event is co-sponsored by the Upsilon Theta Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, an international honor society for counselor education, and the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences. The event is free and open to the public.


Clinical Mental Health Counseling

Kevin is currently seeking his MS in counseling with a concentration in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. Originally from Trinity, NC he received his BS in English and Secondary Education from Appalachian State University and joined EPC in 2014. We asked him to reflect on some past and current experiences. Read his responses below.

  • “Marianne Woodside Role Model Award” awarded by the UT Knoxville Counselor Education Program, May 2016
  • “Outstanding Service to the Chapter Award” awarded by the Chi Sigma Iota – Upsilon Theta Chapter, Counseling Academic and Professional Honor Society International, May 2016

Kevin Webster at CSI Initiation



Webster, K. W., Basma, D., and Gibbons, M. M. (2016, October). Social justice in action: Service-learning in counseling programs. Session to be presented at the Southern Association of Counselor Education and Supervision, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Basma, D., & Webster, K. W. (2015, May). Downward mobility: Loss of career as a post-migration stressor. Session presented for Tennessee Career Development Association Conference, Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Panel Presentation

Gap Years that Make an Impact Workshop & Panel. Panel presentation for Impact Careers Week, Center for Career Development, March 31st, 2016, Knoxville, Tennessee

Chi Sigma Iota – Upsilon Theta Chapter
Service Chair (2015-16) & Service Co-Chair (2016-17)

As service chair for Counselor Education’s honor society, I have worked to look beyond the chapter’s ability to perform one-off service projects each semester. While these projects are and can be meaningful, I  hope to build a long-lasting relationship with a community organization in the greater Knoxville region who may benefit from the skills and philosophical outlook of counselors. After a tip-off from Shawn Spurgeon, our 2015-16 service project worked to rehabilitate the Odd Fellows Cemetery with the Knoxville Reanimation Coalition. CSI-UT’s involvement and willingness to be a resource for the community led to additional connections with other community organizations within the East Knoxville community. My ultimate hope is to begin a partnership that would pair the capabilities of counselor education students with an organization’s overarching mission in order to bridge connections between CSI and the Knoxville community. It looks like we are getting closer to that goal each semester.

Refer to CV for more details.

Current Occupation

Clinical Mental Health Counseling Intern
Blount County Recovery Court

I facilitate group counseling and individual counseling with felon-offenders battling substance use disorders who are serving an alternative-to-incarceration sentence in the community. I work partly in the Blount County jail and partly in the agency’s office.

Graduate Teaching Assistant
Chancellor’s Honors Program
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

I perform a variety of tasks from administrative responsibilities to helping maintain communications between the honors office and our students. I develop and maintain weekly and semesterly newsletters, and I also edit news stories of our students’ accomplishments. Each semester, I collaborate with UT faculty and staff to offer academic seminars and films for our student engagement program.

Kevin Webster in the mountains of New Hampshire

Personal Interests

When not in university-related roles, I spend most of my free time outside biking, rock climbing, running, and hiking. Knoxville’s vast outdoor recreation opportunities and proximity to the mountains were a big draw for us to move to Knoxville. Anyone who knows me is well aware of my intense love for bicycles, and I commute by bike regularly. I also love to buy unloved vintage bicycles and make them look new again, and my house is littered with bikes and bike parts.

I also love to bake bread, explore new cooking recipes, and play the guitar and clawhammer banjo.

Future/Vocational Goals

A long-term goal for me is to be a counselor for a community organization that serves marginalized and under-represented populations. My past experiences as an AmeriCorps volunteer have really cultivated my personal philosophy of not simply working in the community but working on behalf of the community. I hope that my human services and counseling training allows me to meet a growing community need. I could see myself working in a corrections, domestic-violence, or other community-related agency.

What sold you on this program?

One thing that sold me on UT’s counseling program was the faculty’s level of involvement and leadership in their respective professional associations. Coming into the program I knew that Jeff Cochran was the president-elect of the Association for Humanistic Counseling, Shawn Spurgeon was deeply involved with the American Counseling Association, and Bob Kronick headed up a big community school project. That made me feel like I was going to get a first-rate experience here. The counseling program’s leadership not only provides numerous opportunities to take one’s learning outside of the classroom but also it has made an impact on my beliefs about my potential as a leader and as a counseling professional.

Second, before I applied to the program, I came across the CORIS professional dispositions for the counseling program. Once I knew that these were the core values of the program, I could feel confident that I was in the right place to grow professionally and personally. The two dispositions that mean the most to me are “openness” and “self-awareness.” In a way, the program’s core values are a parallel process to the experience of counseling, and that was an idea I could get behind.

What would you tell an incoming student who joins the program?

I would encourage future students of counseling to take ownership of their educational experience and pursue opportunities outside the classroom/curriculum. There is so much to learn on one’s own from collaborating with PhD students and faculty, seeking out leadership opportunities such as CSI, and attending and presenting at conferences—but you have to want it and put yourself out there; it is not going to fall in your lap. I learned a lot this past year by writing to the state’s congress regarding a harmful counseling bill and understanding how ill-informed policy can drastically reshape and transform our counseling profession. Next year, I will be joining other students to help spread awareness about college readiness and STEM education to rural Tennessee high school students with the PIPES program led by Melinda Gibbons.

Upsilon Theta is a chapter of Chi Sigma Iota (CSI), an international honor society that values academic and professional excellence in counseling. The Upsilon Theta Chapter was established at UT Knoxville in 2004. To learn more about this chapter, we interviewed the current president (Everett Painter), president-elect (Nathan West) and co-faculty advisors (Casey A. Barrio Minton and Shawn L. Spurgeon). See their Q&A’s below.

Casey Barrio-Minton


Casey A. Barrio Minton
Associate Professor
Co-Faculty Advisor of Upsilon Theta


What is Upsilon Theta all about?
Our chapter is one of nearly 300 active chapters around the world with a dedication to promoting strong professional identity and recognizing excellence among counseling students, professional counselors, and counselor educators. In addition to recognizing excellence among our members, our chapter seeks to promote excellence and sense of community in our program. We have ongoing professional development events (workshops), community engagement projects (e.g., service to Ronald McDonald House and Odd Fellows Cemetery), and social events (e.g., tailgate, family bowling night). Our members also participate in CSI international programs including essay contests, leadership development programs, awards, and grants.

How do you define the role of the faculty advisor?
I see the role of the faculty advisor as mentoring students in their leadership development and ensuring consistency or stability for the chapter. Although the work of the chapter is most often done by students, students may be fairly new in their leadership development, and they often are in the chapter only one or two years prior to graduation. The chapter adviser, then, can help student leaders understand what it means to be in CSI, understand chapter history, and create their own priorities and programs within the mission of the organization. The faculty advisor also serves as a bridge or liaison to the program faculty about the happenings of the chapter and ways to support our students’ development outside of the classroom. CFAs also have access to CSI headquarters and support, so we can make sure the chapter stays in compliance with bylaws — on things like elections procedures, finances, and reporting.

How do you envision the future of Upsilon Theta?
Upsilon Theta has a strong past and a solid future. Our programs are well-attended and growing. Our student leaders frequently participate in CSI International programs and have a chance to network with other professional counselors around the country. In the years to come, I am excited to see how the chapter extends its community engagement activities and finds creative ways to recognize excellence among our members.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
CSI has been an instrumental part of my development as a counselor and counselor educator. I believe strongly that chapters help develop strong advocates and leaders for the program. I am honored to be a part of this community.

Everett Painter


Everett Painter
PhD Student in Counselor Education
President of Upsilon Theta


What has been the most rewarding/challenging experience as the president?
The most rewarding aspect is working in collaboration with peers and faculty to create initiatives and activities on behalf of the chapter. We are an active, service oriented chapter and it’s a very meaningful experience to assist students in the work we do. It takes a true group effort to accomplish our tasks. The most challenging is always the planning.

How else have you been involved in the chapter?
I previously served the chapter as president-elect and treasurer. I also do what I can to promote CSI to others. And I was selected by CSI to be a Leadership Intern for the coming year. This will have benefits for the chapter.

What is Upsilon Theta all about?
We recognize excellence in counseling at academic and professional levels. Beyond that, we are service oriented and feel we have a responsibility to contribute to our fellow students, the department, and our community. Activities that serve that purpose generally involve social, workshop, and service oriented events.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
It’s a privilege to work with my peers within the context of a department that is so supportive. Because of that support and encouragement, we are able to do what we do and are actively looking at how we can grow the chapter, increase our activities, and explore new opportunities.

Shawn Spurgeon


Shawn Spurgeon
Associate Professor
Co-Faculty Advisor of Upsilon Theta


What is Upsilon Theta all about?
We focus on two aspects of development for our students: academic excellence and interdependence with the community. We participate in projects related to community enhancement and focus our efforts on collaborating with organizations in the community to develop programming that supports the community’s efforts to grow and develop.

How do you define the role of the faculty advisor?
My role is to provide support, direction, and challenge to the leadership group. I consider myself to be a collaborator, guide, and support person. I see the students as an integral part of the community so I focus my energy on helping them build relationships with each other and with the community. There are times when I need to be more directive in planning and programming but even in those moments I tend to allow for processing and input as well.

What has been the most rewarding/challenging experience as the faculty advisor?
The most rewarding aspect of my role as faculty advisor has been the growth of the students and growth of the chapter. We have worked hard to develop a great relationship with the community and now I think the next step is to develop a national presence for our chapter in the international organization. The most challenging aspect of the experience is helping students balance time between their commitment to Upsilon Theta and their commitment to academic excellence in service to their future clients.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with students and to see them grow and develop as leaders. Upsilon Theta has grown by leaps and bounds and it will continue to be an integral part of the UT community.

Nathan West


Nathan West
PhD Student in Counselor Education
President-Elect of Upsilon Theta


How else have you been involved in the chapter?
My induction into CSI was in early 2015, so I was a member for the spring semester before beginning the president-elect role last summer. I have attended several social, service, and educational events since I started at UT in the fall 2014 semester. I have not had a lot of specific responsibilities as president-elect, as my primary goal has been to learn the ropes in preparation for the upcoming year. I have been involved as a general member of the executive council, which meets throughout the year to plan, review, and maintain chapter issues and events. I have also been in charge of taking and collecting pictures of CSI events for a year-in-review slideshow that is a part of our final event at the end of the spring semester.

What is Upsilon Theta all about?
I think the chapter is about connection and service. Being in Upsilon Theta brings opportunities for connection beyond what is possible in class time alone. From what I have experienced and heard from others, I believe this connectedness can help counselor education feel like more than just “school.” I think socializing in a context where the common bond is the counseling profession helps students learn more about their identity as members of the field. It also helps students sort of place themselves amongst the larger themes and goals of the profession as a whole, particularly when it comes to matters like counseling values and social advocacy. I know this has been true for me. This chapter provides those connective opportunities and works to channel toward a common goal of making a positive impact on the community.

Upsilon Theta provides this atmosphere through a variety of activities. At the beginning of each fall semester there is an informal “kick-off” event that gives everyone a chance to spend time together and welcome new members. Other social events throughout the year (such as an annual tailgating party, typically hosted by a faculty member, on a Saturday in the fall) help to continue social bonds in our program. Service events further that same goal of cohesiveness while focusing our efforts on connecting with and supporting the community in some way. This year members of Upsilon Theta have been a part of service at the Ronald McDonald House and the Odd Fellows Cemetery here in Knoxville. A third focus of our chapter is ongoing professional education and training. Each year we have training events/seminars designed to benefit counseling students and local professionals. Those are three ways that goals are put into action in our chapter of CSI: social, service, and education.

How do you envision the future of Upsilon Theta?
I think that the chapter has a lot of momentum right now, as participation has been strong and energy has been high this year. This has been particularly true for service-oriented events. I hope that we can build on that momentum and continue to strengthen ties with the community. Beyond events directly focused on community service, I think one way to do that will be to maintain involvement with practicing counselors in the area. In the past, CSI has teamed up with local counseling organizations to provide resources such as professional training seminars. I think continuing those types of events and continually finding new ways for CSI and local counselors to work together will be an important focus for the future.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
I have been really impressed by the hard work and know-how demonstrated by the executive council this year. Having seen the initiative and quality work of everyone around me, I feel both intimidated and excited as I start to think about my roles, tasks, and shoe-filling in the year ahead.

Members of the Upsilon Theta Executive Council serve one-year terms. Other officers serving out the 2015-16 year include:

Workshop Chair:
Service Chair:
Social Committee Chair:
Public Relations Chair:

Brittany Pollard
Lindsay Bock
Amanda DeDiego
Emily Brown
Mary Frances Street
Kevin Webster
Nina Morgan
Anna Lora Taylor

Upsilon Theta also celebrated its CSI Induction Ceremony earlier this year. Photos from this event can be found on the EPC Facebook page.