The Rambler | www.therambler.org
November 11, 2009
Ex-pilot lands in right place Renee Greer
Finding his purpose in life kept Dr. Michael Ellison’s heart searching for the career he always wanted. A desire to fulfill his purpose and a word of advice from his coworkers forced him to get his head out of the clouds and to make the landing of his life. Forty years ago, Ellison, psychology professor and director of the counseling department, graduated from Oklahoma State University and started to work as a juvenile felony rehab counselor. Soon, he experienced a burnout period. “I was 21-years-old, and I realized I was too young to work with that group of people,” he said. Ellison started to experience stress because he didn’t believe he could effectively help them. As a stress reliever, he began sky diving. Ellison found himself at the mouth of a whole new world that he had grown to love. In fact, he loved it so much that he eventually began flying charter planes. “I eventually became an airline pilot, and the whole while I was thinking of counseling,” Ellison said. “I just couldn’t get away from wanting to
counsel and help others.” Ellison kept his ears ready and available for the opportunity to offer help to anyone that needed it. “My copilots would tell me about their problems, and the counselor in me immediately kicked in,” he said. “They finally told me to shut up and go be a psychologist.” After 10 years of flying planes, Ellison took their advice. “Boring holes in the sky were no longer interesting to me, and being away from home 20 nights out of a month was breaking more than my spirit to fly,” he said. With a renewed hunger, Ellison decided to go back to school. He eventually graduated with a PhD in psychology and began working in the field. After gaining years of experience with companies such as MHMR, he was recruited to Texas Wesleyan as an adjunct professor. After being offered a permanent position, he saw the huge demand for a counseling training program in Fort Worth. In fall 2004, the graduate program opened its doors for the first time. According to Ellison, Texas Wesleyan had the first counseling master’s program in Fort Worth.
“Boring holes in the sky were no longer interesting to me, and being away from home 20 nights out of a month was breaking more than my spirit to fly.” Michael Ellison
Director of Graduate Counseling Programs “I know we are successful because I continue to see the number of students increase each year,” he said. The graduate program has almost reached the maximum number of students allowed this year. Its mission is to “create a learning environment where each student is provided an opportunity to pursue individual excellence, to think clearly and creatively, to communicate effectively and to develop professionally.” For at least some students, that’s exactly what’s happening. “The counseling program has helped me see the world through new professional eyes and I’m very grateful for that,” said counseling graduate student Selena Alexander. “I have re-discovered myself in the counseling program.” While Ellison is pleased with the success of the pro-
gram, he continues to look for ways to improve the quality of the education offered to students. “I’m looking forward to offering a PhD degree in marriage and family therapy some day,” Ellison said. He credits his faculty with the success of the program as it is today. “Our professors are highly qualified, and they are all active counselors,” he said. “Our professors welcome students through the front door of the program, and they congratulate colleagues on the way out.” According to Ellison, 100 percent of professional counseling students pass the National Counseling Exam on the first try. Wesleyan’s program currently ranks among the top schools for its counseling program, according to university search engines
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dents excited as well. Senior Lauren Bell said she thinks it is a great opportunity to take advantage of the accreditation. “As a soon-to-be graduate, I am very pleased with the education that I have received,” she said. “I believe that Wesleyan is one of the finest institutions, and getting accreditation will not be the basis of the high standards of business education for Wesleyan. “Instead, it will show the high educational standards that Wesleyan has always held for their students prior to this accreditation process.”
Back in business The academic success center officially reopend its doors Nov. 5. The center operates under the guidance of Coordinator of New Student Programs Blair Ensign, shown above helping a student, and Assistant Director of the ASC Michael Greer Hall (left). The center offers free tutoring in writing, math, biology and history. The ASC is open daily Monday through Saturday. For hours and details visit www.txwes. edu/arc.
such as EducationPortal.com. “Before I decided on Texas Wesleyan, I looked at several schools, and I couldn’t find any schools that came close to what I’m getting right here at Texas Wesleyan,” said William Polk, a graduate student in the counseling program. Now that he’s back where he always wanted, Ellison is de-
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lighting is even a deterrent for enrolling in night classes. Morgan Yinger, junior education major, is a commuter student who has a night class in McFadden that ends at 9:30 p.m. She said she parks in the faculty parking because it feels safer. “I haven’t noticed anyone, no,” she said, in reference to campus security at that hour. After-hours personnel is another issue at the forefront of security at the moment, said Dr. Harold Jeffcoat, university president. The university is increasing the after-
Photos by Renee Greer | Rambler Staff
Renee Greer | Rambler Staff Dr. Michael Ellison returned to counseling after a stint as an airline pilot.
hours personnel and focusing on the training of newly hired security. In the spring, Stanley Security Solutions offered Wesleyan a proposal with four different payment plans of about $16,000 over a five year period with a free upgrade at the end. Wesleyan did not follow through on the deal. Jeffcoat said the university budgeted conservatively at the beginning of the fiscal year because of uncertainty on how the economy would affect enrollment and funds. “The first place that we gen-
termined to allow students in the program to do the same. “It’s a certain component that develops during a counseling session that I want my students to experience,” he said. “It’s not religion, but it’s that intangible stuff that connects the counselor with the clients, and I like to call it spirit.” erally look to if we have extra resources is keeping the faculty,” he said. “The priority for the institution has been things like personnel.” Bleibdrey said there is a four-phase campus security initiative that includes lighting, fencing and controlled access, a camera system and personnel additions that will reach completion within three to four years. Kesha Carter, freshman sociology major, lives in Stella and believes campus security in general is inadequate. “I think they’re being cheap about campus security,” she said.
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