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Cara Levine

Cara LevinePh.D. Counseling and Counselor Education; C.A.S. in Disability Studies

Hometown: Marietta, GA

What about Syracuse University, the School of Education, and the Department of Counseling and Human Services contributed to you deciding to pursue your degree here?
When it came time to apply for doctoral programs, SU was at the top of my list. I wanted a program that values holistic scholarly development for counselor educators- research, teaching, and clinical work. My adviser in my master's program, Jody Fiorini, is an alumna of the Department of Counseling and Human Services and recruited me to apply. I was impressed by her expertise in both pedagogy and scholarship, which she actively credited to her SU education. Additionally, I wanted to be in a department that was housed in school that valued diversity and social justice, and the SOE is unmatched in this arena!

What opportunities have you had as a student that have enhanced your professional identity development and level of preparation for being a professional?
I am grateful for the department's emphasis on reflexive scholarship, which has allowed me to pursue opportunities to integrate my teaching and clinical supervision experience into professional presentations and writing. My Advanced Theories class with Dr Melissa Luke in the fall of 2012 led to an ongoing work on theoretical deconstruction interventions in counselor pedagogy and supervision with Dr. Luke and my colleagues Alan Miller and Jaime Castillo. In 2013 we presented at the ACES (Association for Counselor Educators) National Conference and the International Interdisciplinary Conference on Clinical Supervision, and have since expanded the work into several publications. The department fosters professional development, and I have greatly benefited from the opportunity to work closely with faculty members to develop and actualize my professional goals and passions.

How do your experiences in the Department of Counseling and Human Services promote your growth and development as a leader?
The department encourages doctoral students to commit time, creativity, and energy to being forces for progressive change in our school, field, communities, and world. We are encouraged to take on leadership roles and pursue opportunities for professional advocacy throughout the program. In 2014 I traveled to Hawaii for the ACA conference, along with Dr. Melissa Luke and colleague Jennifer Menelli, to present on the Underground Art Slams, local community art events. The department, school of education, and Chi Sigma Iota helped sponsor the presentation, and empowered me to integrate local advocacy interventions into professional leadership goals.

What are you doing now in your doctoral work of which you are most proud?
I simultaneously find the most pride and the most humility in my work as a clinical supervisor for current master's students. It is a privilege and an honor to work with counselor;s in the earliest stages of their development, and to encourage and challenge new clinicians to become empowering forces in their clinical work and in their communities. I am proud of the work my supervisees do in our Syracuse community to affect change, as well as the intensive interpersonal and intrapersonal investment they commit to as professional counselors. I am humbled to work with such exceptional students, as well as by the opportunity to integrate feminist and disability studies perspectives into my clinical work.

What are your professional plans when you complete your doctorate in Counseling and Counselor Education? How has your degree helped prepare you to excel in your intended career trajectory?
I plan to apply for teaching positions in departments that value diversity and critical thought in counselor education, and hope to find a position that encourages community advocacy and social justice work. I have had substantial opportunities to teach since beginning the program, which has been tremendously beneficial to my development as a counselor educator. . Dr. Nicole Hill has transformed our research seminar class, taken every semester, into a think tank for developing professional competencies in research, scholarship, and leadership. Her mentorship has helped me to find a place for my voice in the counseling field.

What has been a transformative moment for you in your program?
In December 2014 I participated in the Disability Access and Policy course in Vietnam. During the trip I had the privilege of observing group work at a community advocacy organization led by people with disabilities. I was profoundly moved by the insights, activism, and community building efforts of the participants. The experience transformed, informed, and exponentially expanded my understanding of the power and possibility of group work.

What are some current leadership, scholarship, or professional activities in which you are involved? How do you see them shaping your development?
In addition to my doctorate in counselor education I am completing coursework for a CAS in Disability Studies. Disability Studies has been foundational to my scholastic development and my professional identity. I am looking forward to presenting at the Society for Disability Studies conference in June, and writing with my colleague Brent Elder, a doctoral candidate in Special Education. I served as president of the Sigma Upsilon chapter of Chi Sigma Iota in 2013-2014, and am an active member of ALGBTIC and ACES. Being involved in professional organizations has allowed me to make connections with colleagues across the world who have inspired and supported my development as a doctoral student.

What are things you do to relax and have fun as a doctoral student?
I love to paint, make collages, and forage comic books and movies for feminist/queer science fiction. Spending time with my CHS extended cohort and SOE friends feeds my soul, and I dance whenever possible.

What are the top three things you enjoy about the Syracuse community?
Disability studies, Dr. Nicole Hill's signature dance breaks, and the first snowfall of the season.