InsideODU: News for Faculty and Staff
Monday, January 30, 2012


Counseling Students Selected for National Awards

Counseling students Matthew Portner and Rebecca Michel, from Old Dominion's Darden College of Education, have won both of the top national awards for graduate students in this year's Chi Sigma Iota competition.

An international honor society for more than 78,000 professional counselors, counselor educators and students, CSI presents the yearly awards in recognition of academic excellence and accomplishments. There is only one award given annually for each category nationally. Portner and Michel will be recognized at the American Counseling Association meeting in March in San Francisco.

Portner will be honored by CSI as the Outstanding Master's Student. In addition to his strong academic record in the M.S.Ed. Norfolk campus program, Portner has a wide range of clinical experiences as a budding counselor. As a mental health counselor intern at a psychiatric facility, he has also pushed to create new interventions and alternative treatments such as yoga and meditation for a child and adolescent acute hospitalization program. Additionally, he has worked at a residential facility and volunteered for Camp Lighthouse, a grief counseling camp.

"What truly makes him special is his work with our chapter of CSI. Since the time he was eligible to join CSI, Matt has gone over and beyond what might be expected of a new graduate student entering the counseling profession," said Danica Hays, associate professor and chair of the Department of Counseling and Human Services.

Portner, who will graduate in May, has served the chapter as chair of the Events Planning and Public Relations committees and liaison to the university. Many of his efforts have directly contributed to the chapter being recognized in key student government activities at the university level.

"When the university's graduate student organization was developed in 2010, Matt took it upon himself to ensure that counseling students and CSI was actively involved in shaping the organization. I am proud to say that due to his efforts our students are participating in university service activities," Hays said.

Michel will be honored by CSI as the Outstanding Doctoral Student. Michel is an emerging scholar in counselor education with several accomplishments. Currently, she has four publications, four manuscripts under review, 29 conference presentations and 13 newsletter articles to her credit. Additionally, she has conducted several evaluations involving counselor education programs, agency initiatives and violence prevention.

"Becky has also worked with the ODU Women's Center to offer dating violence prevention workshops to college students, an initiative geared toward adolescent and young adult populations," Hays said. "She has been involved with the Omega Delta CSI chapter since she began the doctoral program in 2009, with roles as the chapter president and Events Committee co-chair."

In addition to her clinical experience over the past seven years, Michel has served as a supervisor and taught or co-taught eight undergraduate and graduate courses.

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