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APUS School Counseling Alumni Network Makes Its Debut

APUS School Counseling Alumni Network Makes Its Debut

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By Melanie Conner, APUS Student and Alumni Affairs Liaison, Dr. Kimberlee Ratliff, Program Director, and Dr. Marie Isom, Associate Professor

The APUS School Counseling Alumni Network launched in May 2019. It is the first alumni-only organization dedicated to students who graduated with a Master’s in Education: School Counseling degree.

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Dr. Kimberlee Ratliff, program director of the counseling program, explains, “I wanted to create a way for our faculty and alumni to engage in mentoring, professional development opportunities, and social justice efforts to support our graduates who are working in the field or related fields.”

Dr. Ratliff and Dr. Marie Isom are chapter advisors of the organization. Both have been counselor educators for over 10 years. Dr. Ratliff has been program director of the M.Ed. School Counseling program for the past eight years, and Dr. Isom has been an associate professor in the counseling program at APUS for over eight years.

Kim Ratliff Kathy Dorner
Graduate Kathy Dorner and APUS School Counseling Alumni Network co-founder Dr. Kimberlee Ratliff.

On her role as a chapter advisor, Dr. Isom says, “It is my hope that through advising and this association with our wonderful program director that we’re able to provide meaningful continuing education and collaboration for alumni in the noble profession of school counseling.”

New Organization Brings Together Students for Collaboration

This new student organization will bring together students from various regions in the counseling program to collaborate on research, publications and presentations. It is also an opportunity for alumni to share diverse ideas and job opportunities in their local areas.

Dr. Ratliff notes, “One of the strengths of the counseling program has been the representation of students across the country and around the world.” She wanted to continue these collaborations as they transition into school counseling as professionals.

APUS School Counseling Alumni Network Began as a Facebook Group

Dr. Ratliff created the AMU & APU Counseling Facebook group in January 2018. Within a few weeks of the launch, it grew to over 65 members.

The group remains active. In 2018, they led a “Landing a Job in School Counseling” webinar with administrators, veteran counselors, and counselor educators. Those professionals served as panelists who shared recommendations and insights to help graduates prepare for job interviews.

Alumni in the Facebook group assisted current students by creating a Praxis II School Counseling Prep workshop. They also partnered with two faculty members (Dr. Ratliff and Dr. Isom) on publications related to counseling for first responders and law enforcement officers.

With the early success of this group, Dr. Ratliff thought it would be beneficial for the group to become an official student organization. Active student clubs and organizations are eligible for university funds, which allowed the group to become more active.

Dr. Ratliff says, “As a university, we want to make a difference and create an accessible way for our school counseling graduates to thrive and be a change agent in their schools and communities.” She states that the vision of the APUS School Counseling Alumni Network is to provide ongoing network and support to university alumni through:

  • Networking
  • Mentoring new professionals in the field
  • Engagement in scholarship and research activities to benefit the counseling profession
  • Supporting efforts related to equity, access, and social justice as outlined in professional ethical standards and roles
  • Providing community service and financial support

The Student and Alumni Affairs team has been instrumental in helping guide the set-up of this new organization. Dr. Ratliff says, “The Student Affairs team is supportive and guides you through each step. We have received assistance from creating the constitution, developing a logo, and recruiting members. When we received final approval and our organization was announced as a new addition to the student organization offerings, we were very proud to have started the first alumni organization at AMU/APU. We hope to be trailblazers and provide continued support to our graduates and help them work as change agents in their communities.”

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APUS School Counseling Alumni Network Open to New Members

The APUS School Counseling Alumni Network currently has 70 members. New members are accepted throughout the year.

Are you a graduate of our Master’s in Education: School Counseling program and interested in joining the organization? For more information, email studentaffairs@apus.edu.

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