Grad student awarded counseling fellowship, plans to open youth center
Story by Melissa Leavenworth
Eric Wilson’s dream of opening a youth center in Fort Collins is coming to life thanks to his recent securement of a fellowship award from the National Board of Certified Counselors Minority Fellowship Program.
Wilson, a graduate of Colorado State University in human development and family studies, is currently pursuing his master’s degree in the Counseling and Career Development Program in CSU’s School of Education. Wilson received an $8,000 education award and access to no-cost training opportunities from the NBCC Foundation to continue his professional development toward his goal of assisting Fort Collins adolescents uncover their strengths and overcome challenges.
The fellowship program is made possible by a grant awarded to NBCC by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The NBCC Foundation awarded the fellowships to master’s- and doctoral-level counseling students around the country and also provides training and collaboration opportunities. The goal of the program is to reduce health disparities and improve behavioral health care outcomes for racially and ethnically diverse populations by increasing the number of available culturally competent mental health professionals.
The NBCC will provide Wilson with a variety of learning experiences, including professional mentoring, clinical supervision and coaching from practitioners in the field. Wilson will learn from those who are at the forefront of developing techniques and initiatives to improve mental health throughout the nation. “I hope to expand and refine my clinical skills in order to work more effectively with youth from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences,” Wilson said.
The impact left on Wilson by former teachers, mentors and peers in his teen years greatly influenced his desire to work with youth. He finds himself inspired by the good he sees in young people: their unsuppressed passion, hope for a better world, and desire to enjoy life. Wilson strives to harness this inspiration and help cultivate their greatness by showing them how to embrace their own journeys.
He hopes to help adolescents navigate through often difficult decisions around relationships with peers, parents and romantic interests. He says that when youth encounter tough situations, life can seem overwhelming. He hopes that by developing self-awareness, healthy coping skills and a focus on what is within their control, they will be able to better navigate unexpected challenges that they face.
‘Overcome their fear’
By building an understanding of cultural development and intercultural interaction, Wilson aims to support and guide young people as they explore their identities. “Most of all,” said Wilson, “I want to help youth overcome their fear of letting their true selves be seen by others.”
Wilson believes that when individuals feel safe being a work-in-progress, they can grow into the person they want to be. He credits his outlook largely to his undergraduate involvement in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, where he engaged in honest conversations surrounding ethnicity and spirituality. “It greatly increased my awareness of others’ experiences and sense of belonging,” said Wilson, “It helped me learn how to come alongside someone and help them actively grow in self-awareness and confidence in who they are.”
Through the fellowship, Wilson will have the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with counselors across the country who share similar passions. He aspires to leverage these new relationships and resources to build a community-wide support in establishing a youth center in Fort Collins through Foundry Mentoring.
To learn more about Wilson’s initiative to establish a youth center in Fort Collins, visit FoundryMentoring.org.
About the NBCC Foundation
The NBCC Foundation is the nonprofit affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors, based in Greensboro, North Carolina. NBCC is the nation’s premier professional certification board devoted to credentialing counselors who meet standards for the general and specialty practices of professional counseling. Currently, there are more than 60,000 National Certified Counselors in the United States and more than 50 countries. The Foundation’s mission is to leverage the power of counseling by strategically focusing resources for positive change.
The Counseling and Career Development Program is part of the School of Education in the College of Health and Human Sciences.
CSU External Relations Staff