Anthony Ferguson Jr., a graduate student pursuing his Master of Science in Counseling in the Drake University School of Education, recently received a National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) Foundation fellowship. The NBCC Foundation provides scholarships and fellowships designed to increase the number of counselors committed to working with high-priority populations and engage them in becoming innovators of counseling practices.
“This is a great accomplishment, as this is a national and very competitive fellowship,” said Bengu Erguner-Tekinalp, associate professor of education in Drake's counseling department. "Anthony is an emerging leader in the mental health counseling profession with passion and determination to make a change in the lives of underserved communities."
Ferguson works full-time as an admission counselor at Drake, serving prospective students from schools in Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington D.C.
In his graduate studies, he has established close professional connections between his professors, whom he said "go out of their way to mentor, challenge, and develop me not only as a student, but as a person." Upon completion of his degree, he hopes to apply his skills to bring awareness and service to mental health issues and concerns, particularly among underrepresented and minority youth.
"We all have experiences, thoughts, and feelings that limit us from tapping into our fullest potential and living up to who we are called to be," said Ferguson, a native of Baltimore, Maryland. "Our society tells us that we must be strong, not to cry, and essentially not to show any emotions. I see counseling as a way to combat those [messages] and let people know that life can be hard, but they aren't in it alone."
The NBCC Foundation was awarded a federally funded grant allowing the Foundation to distribute minority fellowships to master's and doctoral-level students on an annual basis. These awards enable fellows to provide leadership to the counseling profession through education, research and practice benefiting the underserved. The NBCC Foundation administered 40 master’s-level counseling fellowships of $5,000 for mental health counseling students in 2016. Eligible applicants must demonstrate knowledge of and experience with racially and ethnically diverse populations, and commit to providing mental health services to underserved minority transition-age youth (16–25) populations.
"This fellowship gives me access to mental health professionals from all across the country and expands my support network within the profession," Ferguson said. "The fellowship also comes with a scholarship component that will support me in my professional and educational endeavors. For me this fellowship reaffirms, strengthens, and equips me to better serve the mental health needs of those living in diverse communities."