Counseling Students Receive National Recognition


ATLANTA – Mercer University graduate students Tavonda Hudson and Thommi Odom recently earned recognition from national counseling organizations.

“The counseling faculty and I are extremely proud of Tavonda and Thommi,” said Dr. Priscilla Danheiser, dean of Penfield College. “They are outstanding representatives of our graduate counseling programs and extremely deserving of the recognition they are receiving. I am confident they will make important contributions to the counseling profession and to the clients and students they will soon serve.”

Hudson, a master's-level dual degree candidate, was awarded a $5,000 scholarship through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Minority Fellowship Program.

Hudson is pursuing a Master of Science degree in clinical mental health counseling in Penfield College and a Master of Divinity degree in McAfee School of Theology. She is the second Mercer student to receive an NBCC award.

The NBCC Foundation awards 23 doctoral-level counseling fellowships, 80 master's-level counseling fellowships and 10 master's-level counseling scholarships each year.

Applicants must demonstrate knowledge of and experience with racially and ethnically diverse populations, rural populations or military populations and commit to providing mental health and/or substance abuse and addictions counseling services to that underserved population.

The National Board for Certified Counselors Inc. and Affiliates (NBCC) is a not-for-profit, independent certification organization established in 1982. NBCC's original and primary purposes are to establish and monitor a national certification system, to identify those counselors who have voluntarily sought and obtained certification, and to maintain a register of those counselors. As NBCC has grown, it and its divisions and affiliates have taken on additional responsibilities to advance the counseling profession and enhance mental health worldwide.

Today, there are more than 55,000 National Certified Counselors (NCCs) in more than 40 countries. NCCs have voluntarily met high national standards set by the counseling profession and based on research, including passing an examination.

Odom, a Ph.D. candidate in counselor education and supervision, was selected as a 2015 American College Counseling Association (ACCA) Emerging Leader.

The Emerging Leader Grant will be presented to only two graduate students and/or professionals at the American Counseling Association (ACA) Conference and Expo, March 12-15, in Orlando.

The ACCA Graduate Student Committee oversees the selection process for the grant, which covers the cost of the conference registration fee in order to encourage attendance and participation in the 2015 ACA Conference and ACCA activities.

The ACCA is made up of diverse mental health professionals from the fields of counseling, psychology and social work working within higher education settings. Members include professionals and students who hold primarily a master's or doctoral degree, as well as counselor educators and supervisors.

The ACA is a not-for-profit professional and educational organization that is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession. Founded in 1952, ACA is the world's largest association exclusively representing professional counselors in various practice settings.

About Penfield College of Mercer University

Penfield College of Mercer University, established as the College of Continuing and Professional Studies in 2003, is committed to serving non-traditional learners and currently enrolls more than 1,300 students. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to working adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Educational programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary programs that integrate theory and practice. The College offers general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer. Another initiative called the Bridge program transitions students enrolled in Mercer's English Language Institute and other international students to undergraduate programs throughout the University. Areas of study include organizational leadership, counseling, school counseling, human services, human resources, informatics, public safety leadership, nursing preparation, liberal studies, psychology and communication. Programs are offered on Mercer's campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as multiple regional academic centers in Douglas County, Henry County, Newnan and Eastman, and online. To learn more, visit

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.