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DISTINGUISH A J O U R N A L F R O M T H E O F F I C E O F G R A D UAT E S T U D I E S

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ISSUE 5

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Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Community Members, For the past year, there has been a buzz around campus regarding a big change at IPFW. The change, “realignment”, is now in full motion. Since 1964, IPFW conferred both Indiana University degrees and Purdue University degrees. For current graduate degree students, you will still earn either an Indiana University degree or a Purdue University degree as long as you continue progressing toward your degree or do not stop out. If you delay your graduation past December 2021, you will earn a Purdue University degree. Our Fort Wayne campus will only confer Purdue University degrees beginning spring 2022. Beginning fall 2018, all new students entering a previously Indiana University mission program, will be Purdue students in Purdue University programs. So what happens to the current Purdue University students? Well, the Nursing Program is transitioning to Indiana University and nursing will be a part of the IU Health Science Center at Fort Wayne. Our current graduate nursing students will remain Purdue University students until graduation. All other Purdue University programs will remain Purdue; thus, Purdue students will continue to graduate from Purdue University. On July 1, 2018, our name will be changing to Purdue University Fort Wayne (PFW) but the quality programs will still be delivered and the exceptional faculty will still be teaching your courses. If you have questions regarding your program’s degree, please feel free to stop by my office in Kettler Hall or email me at carol.sternberger@ipfw.edu.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Programs and Director of Graduate Studies/ Interim Chair of Nursing

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Contents

From the Director................................................................

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Faculty Spotlight: Professor Kerrie Fineran ..........................

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Mastodons on the Move........................................................

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Honing Skills by Helping Haiti ................................................

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Returning Home to Homestead ...............................................

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Promising Professionals: Future Mental Health Provider .......

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Inspiring the Future through Empowering Education ............

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‘Principals’ for a Great Education......................................................

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Counseling and the Art of Helping Others By:Lindsey Dutrieux

Kerrie Fineran,Ph.D., assistant professor and director of counselor education, focuses on teaching and mentoring her graduate students so they are well prepared for their careers as mental health counselors and school counselors. Fineran specializes in Group Counseling and does research on suicide prevention and intervention. It is important to Fineran that graduates in the counseling program know how to respond to students in crisis and react confidently when a client or student confides in them. Fineran has recently finished a research survey that asked middle and high school counselors about their training, what they have done in response to a completed student suicide, and what they plan to do to help other students who were impacted by the tragedy. She hopes to show what counselors are doing to intervene in the aftermath and to describe their qualitative experiences related to what was helpful to them, the community, and the school community. Fineran became interested in suicide counseling as a college athlete and later as a college swim coach. She says one of the worst things one could ever say to a person who has confirmed suicidal idealization is, “But you have so much to live for!� Fineran and the students I talked to who are in the program believe that having a person come to you for help in their darkest human moments is both an honor and a privilege. To best prepare her students for the challenges they will face in their careers with having clients or students attempt or complete suicide, Fineran conducts a mandatory 6-hour workshop on suicide assessment and crisis intervention. Fineran encourages students to be continual learners and to be active in in their fields, be it presenting at conferences or being change agents in their communities.

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Kerrie R. Fineran, Ph.D., NCC, PSC Director of Counselor Education Coordinator of School Counseling


Recently Fineran took three of her graduate students to San Francisco to the American Counseling Association Conference, where she presented with other counselors as a specialist in group counseling. The graduate students presented their own research on working with LGBTQAI populations in group settings. They shared the best practices and available resources for the group as a whole, but also for individual group members. Students experience multiculturalism, diversity, and social justice issues while taking classes in the counseling program. The counseling program is great for those students who enjoy working in a cohort and becoming part of a larger professional network after graduation. Fineran considered many fields before accepting the challenge and excitement of being a counselor.“There is such a variety of things that can happen from day to day as a counselor,” she says, “and I never get bored.” As a counseling student, you have to be passionate about what you are doing and graduate students are more focused and excited because every class they take is directly related to their future careers. Dr. Fineran said that she sees counseling as “part science and part art,” in that students need to know theory and evidence-based treatments, but also be able to be creative to best meet the needs of the client or student in session. One of the most powerful moments Fineran remembers as a graduate student is when a professor came to class after learning a family member had completed suicide. Being seen by her students as a human being is very important to Fineran, and after being with her own professor during that tough experience, it taught her the importance and power of being genuine. As counselors-in-training students need to be able to connect with people on an intimate and very personal level. Fineran also wants her students to understand that there is no one perfect way to be a counselor and that they need to evaluate their actions based on how effectively, efficiently, and compassionately they help clients meet their goals. Some words of encouragement she has for both undergraduate and graduate students is to find a field that allows you to “wake up and believe that you are doing what it is that you are meant to do, ideally in a way that helps others or your community.” Fineran noted that she was taught in her family that doing something useful that helped people was a worthy use of time and has tried to live this value through her career choice to become a counselor and an educator.

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Mastodons on the Move

Connecting Counselors through Conferences By:Lindsey Dutrieux

Students Cassie Halbert (FL), Alyssa Hale (FR), and Brooke Wright (BR) pose next to their poster at the American Counseling Association conference in San Francisco with mentor Kerrie Fineran (BL)

Three counseling education students, Alyssa Hale, Cassie Halbert, and Brooke Wright, had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco to present at the national conference for the American Counseling Association. Halbert, Hale, and Wright presented a poster on their literature research into Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Asexual, and Intersexual (LGBTQAI) individuals. Their poster described best practices using group work with the LGBTQAI community and some unhelpful interactions that could affect sessions. The students decided to present on this topic because as counselors they need to be culturally competent and current with the most recent studies and crucial topics.

While searching for articles and studies to include in their own work, the students said it became very apparent to them that there is a dire need for more research into this valuable community. Wright and Halbert explained that, “Because of the limited number of articles and research out there, this could shy students of this population away from seeking counselors because they may not feel valued or understood by society in general.” Hale feels, “Counselors in the field would benefit greatly from learning how to help these individuals, and that can only be done through research.”

Students enjoying a San Francisco cable car ride after presenting at their national conference

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At this conference of over 4,000 attendees, it was clear that human and social rights were a major focus. Originally, the conference was to take place in Nashville, Tenn., but had to be moved to California after Nashville’s implementation of a new bathroom law that states a person may only use the restroom of their assigned birth sex. Because of this, conference officials did not want to support a community that was not welcoming to all people. The students learned a lot at the conference through attending various lectures and group sessions. On the second day of the conference they listened to keynote speaker Jessica Peddit, who spoke about her work with the LGBT community and advised counselors to ‘be real’ with clients and try not to tiptoe around issues that might be uncomfortable to address.


Halbert and Wright said they learned “to give everyone 30 seconds before judging them to hear them out. Treat everyone as if they were Mother Theresa and try to look past their negative attributes and only at the good.” The students said that Peddit’s lecture was very important because it spoke about how to be genuine and empathetic. The ‘window of acceptance’ was also a topic covered at this conference in which counselors who respond to trauma and disaster relief described techniques to either de-escalate hypersensitive or escalate hyposensitive individuals. The main events that were mentioned were the recent Orlando nightclub shooting and the Sandyhook School shooting, where trauma counselors are usually on the scene within 1224 hours. Students said that it did not matter what lectures or sessions they chose to attend because it was all very much related to their interests and could be used immediately in their work. All the students who attended this year’s conference were invited to the Associations for Specialists in Group Work (ASGW) conference, which will take place in Savanna, Ga., next year. Some advice they have for their fellow graduates is to explore more! “Never say no to an opportunity, do it while school can help you pay for it,” says Wright. IPFW’s Student Government Travel Committee helped pay for their trip, so they only had to pay for their own food and transportation costs. Halbert feels she is now more passionate about her studies and more connected to her professors and campus because she is able to share her newfound

IPFW graduate counseling students Cassie Halbert, Alyssa Hale, and Brooke Wright standing in front of Angel Island during their trip to San Francisco in March

Counseling graduate students presenting their research on Group Work practices for LGBTQAI community members

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Honing Skills by Helping Haiti

By: Lindsey Dutrieux

Graduate counseling students Alyssa Hale, Cassie Halbert, and Jessica Hernandez had the opportunity last June to visit Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. They were able to visit thanks to Associate Professor of Education Amy Nitza, former chair of the Counseling Education program. Nitza asked students to attend because of the rich amount of cultural competence training it would give them. During their trip, the students were able to help train students at the University of Notre Dame in Group Work counseling techniques. The skills will enable the Haitian students to assist their own communities after natural disasters such as the recent hurricane and past earthquake that devastated the area. When asked how the citizens where handling the destruction of their towns, Jessica Hernandez said, “They are the most resilient people and country; everyone is so nice, welcoming, and thankful for you being there.”

Students participating in the group work training at the University of Notre Dame in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

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Students Cassie Halbert (L), Alyssa Hale (M), and Jessica Hernandez (R) on mountain overlooking Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Most of the students they were helping instruct at this conference were their same ages but were focused more on psychology rather than counseling. When asked about the state of the community and the perceptions we have of countries with overwhelming poverty, Hernandez said, “There is a difference between reading and hearing about an event versus actually experiencing it.” Hale, Halbert, and Hernandez were able to join Professor Nitza at the home of Father Wismick, a priest who works with the Center for Spirituality and Mental Health (CESSA) alongside Nitza. Father Wismick told our students about his experiences in opening an orphanage and about the help that is needed for the community. Halbert explained that citizens’ needs are not purely for mission trips, although mission trips are very helpful; there is a need for communication between the government and the assisting charities as to what resources can help the most or that are already provided. Students at the university said they appreciated the knowledge and skills they were learning because those tools can be used to improve the community for generations. In an unfamiliar environment, a person must be careful not to offend anyone, so this trip was a great learning experience for the three students who went.


One of the most memorable moments for Halbert was when they were performing a group activity and a student was asked what her favorite song was. The translator who was helping during the class replied it was the national anthem of Haiti. The student was shy but began to sing the anthem when asked, and soon the whole class of 15-20 students began to sing along.

Notre Dame Classroom in Haiti set up for group work counseling lecture session

“They genuinely wanted to make a difference and were passionate about learning,” Hale said. “One of my favorite experiences was when some of the students took us sightseeing to learn about their country’s history. I learned so much about their culture and what they all had been through as a country. While at a museum, an American man approached us asking why would we come to Haiti for a conference and one of the students, Vanessa, instantly started listing all the wonderful things her country was doing and other conferences that were occurring, and the man was taken aback by her passion and love for her country. In that moment, I saw such pride and appreciation that she had for her country. It was truly inspiring and something I will never forget!”

This was an inspiring experience because it allowed counselors to see the pride the students had for their country. On the final day in Haiti, IPFW and the hosting students went to the beach and were able to learn more about one another, some of them communicating though the WhatsApp international texting application. Some advice the students have for others who are in the program or just considering an educational trip is, “DO IT!” You can only learn so much on campus and through internships. Being able to go out and use what you have learned to help others cannot be taught, only experienced. The students would like to thank Professor Nitza and the IPFW community for allowing them to travel and take part in such an amazing program.

Street scene in Haiti with homes and businesses climbing the hillside

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Returning Home to Homestead

By:Lindsey Dutrieux

It can feel very strange to go back to your high school after graduation—seeing all your old teachers and classrooms brings back so many memories. Masters of Science student Kara Wygant knows this feeling all too well; she was recently hired as a school counselor at her alma mater of Homestead here in Fort Wayne. Wygant was welcomed back to Homestead as a student intern, but when a counselor left to join another school district she was offered an opportunity to stay on staff as a full-time school counselor. She was issued a one-year emergency license by the state of Indiana to allow her to work until she takes her exam, which will grant her permanent licensing. Wygant was an undergraduate student here at IPFW in the Department of Psychology and always knew she wanted to work with children, so the graduate program with a concentration in school counseling just seemed like a natural fit. Homestead High School Counselor Kara Wygant

Wygant loves her position at Homestead and feels her program really prepared her for the multiple roles she has to play each day. As a high school counselor, every day looks completely different. A day can be filled with multiple tasks, from academic advising and self-harm assessments, to mediating personal/ social interactions between students. When asked about the most challenging part of her position Wygant says, ‘‘Classes and examples teach the cohort very well, but nothing teaches you like hands-on experience.” She never could have imagined the amount of time and energy it takes to do her job, but she loves being able to switch tasks and the rewarding challenge. “It’s just something you have to learn. When a child is in crisis it takes a lot of mental power,” says Wygant, but she would not choose to do anything else. Wygant is very thankful for her professors—the mentors who helped her get an internship at Homestead and encouraged her to succeed in the field. The counseling program is very connected and supportive; students are able to rely on one another and their advisors for continual feedback, even after graduation. Her advice to fellow graduate students or prospective students is, “Make the most of your experience. School can be mundane and exhausting, but in graduate school you’re more invested because your interests are more concentrated.” She encourages students to have fun and enjoy social interactions. “Your experience is what you make it,” she says. “There are always opportunities for you if you look for them. Take risks.”

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Promising Professionals: Future Mental Health Provider By: Lindsey Dutrieux

There is a growing need in communities for access to the best in mental healthcare; this includes experienced licensed mental health professionals who are committed to providing effective therapeutic services to a variety of clients. Master’s in Education student Michael Dunne-Steece uses the skills and techniques he is learning as a marital, couples, and family counselor to help his clients overcome their personal challenges. Dunne-Steece has always been interested in the field of Human Services, and when performing a clinical rotation in a pre-nursing program, he soon realized that a career as a professional therapist was his true calling. Currently Dunne-Steece is completing his 3rd-year internship at Phoenix Associates, Inc., of Fort Wayne, a leading provider of mental health and behavioral health services for people of all ages. After completing his internship, DunneSteece has agreed to be hired on as a full-time therapist with the company, where he will work with a wide variety of clients such as family units, couples, children, and senior citizens using hands-on counseling therapy.

IPFW Graduating Counselor Michael Dunne-Steece

As an intern, Dunne-Steece has all his own clients and meets with them face-to-face, receiving guidance from supervisors when needed. He heard of this internship from the owner of the company, who works closely with area universities to find the best students to serve their clients. There are currently four intern counselors working alongside Dunne-Steece while he completes his minimum 20 hours per week. Dunne-Steece says that he enjoys the opportunity to work with current professionals and learn the treatment plans available for different cases. While finishing his internship he says it is very valuable to receive the constructive criticism given by the supervising staff. Staying with the same clients until their own personal goals are met can be a challenging, but it’s also a very rewarding experience. Dunne-Steece says that most of his clients reach their individual goals successfully after a few weeks, while he has been working with others since the start of his internship. When asked about the variety of clients he helps, Dunne-Steece says, “Every client is different and it really depends on their unique situation and what they need.” Advice he would give to fellow students is to “be selfish with your education, ask questions, learn from others and do not be offended when given criticism, because you will need it.” He would like to thank the faculty at IPFW who have encouraged and worked with him during these last three years and his husband, Tim, and their family.

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Inspiring the Future through Empowering Education

By:Lindsey Dutrieux

Special Education teacher Courtney Gremaux instructing her students at Lindley Elementary

Everyone has had a favorite teacher who has affected their education positively, whether they were your elementary school teacher or a favorite college professor. Courtney Gremaux is a special education teacher at Lindley Elementary here in Fort Wayne who strives to make a lasting positive impression on all her students. Gremaux earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and special education from IPFW, a master’s degree in curriculum instruction from Indiana Wesleyan, and has received licensure in educational leadership from IPFW. Gremaux aspired to become a teacher at a very young age and says her 2nd grade teacher was a huge inspiration and encouraged her to pursue her degrees.

As a special education teacher, Gremaux assists students from kindergarten through the 5th grade. Gremaux says that it is a very rewarding experience when you work with the same students and are able to watch them grow and develop as learners. When asked to name one challenge that she faces as an educator, Gremaux says it’s what she does outside the classroom, whether it’s assisting her students’ general education teachers or giving parents the information they need to continue to educate their students at home. Some of the challenges Gremaux faces in her classroom are the demands placed on her students by various required testing, and stressful examinations were students are unable to excel. A student needing Special Education may present other unique challenges, such as behavioral needs that cannot be avoided, but Gremaux says that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and knows the student will succeed in her class. Soon she will be applying for a one-year internship with Fort Wayne Community Schools, where she will work alongside a principal in the district. Gremaux hopes to become an assistant principal after the experience and believes that working in administration will broaden her impact on a wider range of students and empower them through education. She loves her position and the connections she has made during her studies, and she values being able to come back to IPFW if she needs any guidance. When asked if she had any advice for students, she offers, “Find exposure, use internships and practicums to get into the positions you are most interested in, and determine if it is a career you can see yourself doing. Really know what you are getting into and be open to new settings and environments.” Gremaux is thankful for her family members who have pushed her to succeed and grow, and who have encouraged her to develop into a great educator.

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‘Principals’ for a Great Education

By:Lindsey Dutrieux

Just 20 miles northeast of Fort Wayne is Woodburn, Indiana’s 2nd smallest city. David Van Spankeren is the principal of Woodburn Lutheran School, which educates a class of 150 students from grades Kindergarten through 8. Van Spankeren earned a gearned a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from IPFW in June2016. “The community of Woodburn is amazing, the people are so welcoming, everyone knows everyone, and the students are great,” says Van Spankeren, who is a native of the Chicago suburbs. If you had told him years earlier when he was teaching middle school math and science that he would become a principal, he would not have believed you.

Principal of Woodburn Lutheran School David Van Spankeren

There are common challenges that all principals need to face, such as disobedient students, upset parents, and teacher scarcities, but Van Spankeren will endure every hurdle if it means his students will succeed. In schools both private and public, it has become hard to find enough effective, licensed, and qualified teachers due to low enrollment and graduation rates at universities, and there is really no quick fix. Another issue school administrators face are the flaws in the required high-stakes testing of students that can be stressful and damaging to both teachers and students. When things are going bad it is easy to want to blame teachers, but there are so many outside factors that can affect learning. “It is not effective to place such extreme emphasis on the results of one test when many outside factors can affect the results” says Van Spankeren. “Private schools are important for faith development and academic development, but are not for everyone. Public schools face greater pressure from high stakes testing due to the factoring of results toward teacher evaluations and teacher pay. After all is done, it’s truly all about the kids. Watching that light bulb turn on and hearing students ask continual questions is the reward you receive in this position.” Van Spankeren’s inspiration for becoming a principal and a positive role model for his students came from his youth. He had very good adult role models while growing up—his parents, teachers, older siblings, and coaches. “I feel very blessed by the leadership and guidance I received,” he says. “It’s impactful when adults are genuine, care, and are willing to sacrifice to help you learn, help you grow, and be the best person you can be. It’s what every child needs.” Van Spankeren feels he is where he is meant to be and is very happy with what he is doing today. “Being a principal is an important job. It takes a lot responsibility and putting your whole heart and soul into it. Look at all the people you are affecting. You can make a positive impact on those individuals. It is a lot of work but completely worthwhile.” D I S T I N G U I S H

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Office of Graduate Studies Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne 2101 East Coliseum Boulevard Fort Wayne, Indiana 46805-1499 Kettler Hall (KT), Room 258 Telephone: 260-481-6145 Fax: 260-481-0347 Email: graduate@ipfw.edu Office Hours: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.

DISTINGUISH IPFW is an Equal Opportunity/Equal Access University.

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Spring 2017 journal  

2017 Spring Distinguish Journal: Focus on education and counseling

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