Michele Lopez

Michele LopezPh.D. Counseling and Counselor Education

Hometown: Venezuela

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?
I became psychologist in Venezuela in 2006 and worked in psychological research in different Caribbean countries until I moved to NY in 2010. In 2013 I became a Clinical Mental Health counselor from Long Island University while working with people with disabilities in NYC. As a counselor I became interested in contributing to the field not only as a counseling service provider, but also as an influence for future counselors, specifically in working with disability. I was interested in working with recognized CHS faculty and in being part of the transgressive historical tradition of SOE in terms of Disability Studies, so I applied to SU. I encountered not only significant opportunities for research development with widely recognized faculty, but I also found the possibility to combine my passion for disability studies into my training as a counselor educator.

What opportunities have you had as a student that have enhanced your professional identity development and level of preparation for being a professional?
Being a CHS student has afforded me many meaningful opportunities. One of them has been the possibility to receive training and become a clinical supervisor from the beginning of my doctoral studies. This has definitely strengthened the development of my identity as an educator. Another opportunity has been the CHS support to present at regional and national professional conferences. I have been able to travel to wonderful places like Hawaii, and I have also to felt the sense of community and belongingness with my colleagues when we gather in other cities in the occasion of professional conferences.

How do your experiences in the Department of Counseling and Human Services promote your growth and development as a leader?
As a CHS student my leadership skills have evolved through service, supervision, teaching and research. As a counselor, CHS has supported and encouraged me to serve my community through internship experiences. I believe my work with my students and clients is definitely shaping the service leader I want to become. As a scholar, I have been supported through mentorship and research collaboration to integrate my passion for disability studies into my research work.

What are you doing now in your doctoral work of which you are most proud?
I think everything I am doing in my doctoral work now makes me proud! However, as an emerging Feminist Disability Studies scholar, I am proud of my efforts to legitimize disability in the mental health discourse. I am currently working on my Research Apprenticeship that involves the understanding of counseling students’ experiences receiving multicultural training to work with people with disabilities. As a woman of color, I am personally interested in honoring the voices of those who have been historically silenced in the mainstream discourse, and I am proud of working toward this goal in every aspect of my doctoral 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 want to change the world one class at a time! Once I complete my doctorate in Counseling and Counselor Education I plan to teach at the university level and have an impact in future generations of counselors. My training in this program is preparing me not only as an educator and a scholar, but it is also helping me understand the importance of the counseling work, wellness and equity in our society.

What has been a transformative moment for you in your program?
This has been by all means a transformative journey! A specific experience has been the mentorship relationship I have with my advisor that has afforded me transformative opportunities. Professor Nicole Hill has been extremely influential in my view of collaboration and wellness while doing meaningful work. I have found this relationship to be inspiring and transformative personally and professionally. If you are reading this, thank you Dr. Hill!

What are some current leadership, scholarship, or professional activities in which you are involved? How do you see them shaping your development?
I am involved in several initiatives and projects that are meaningful to me. In terms of leadership, I became the vice-president 2014-2015 of our Counseling Honor Society chapter, Chi Sigma Iota. This has involved different responsibilities and rewarding opportunities aimed to foster our counseling students’ professional identity and sense of community. I am also increasingly involved in projects with colleagues and faculty that enhance my development as a scholar.

What are things you do to relax and have fun as a doctoral student?
I think relaxing can be harder than having fun as a doctoral student. I experience each of my classes and projects as rewarding and fun that sometimes it is hard to set a limit for the time needed to rest and relax. I try to relax by setting times for family-movie nights-pet loving-yummy eating in my schedule.

What are the top three things you enjoy about the Syracuse community?
1. My CHS classmates/colleagues/friends
2. The extremely interesting and committed people I get to know in each of my classes in SOE
3. Locally grown produce!