Counseling master’s student empowers underrepresented students in STEM
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Stephanie Zackery, an Oklahoma State University master’s student in mental health counseling, is working to bring more underrepresented students into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professions.
Zackery’s thesis research analyzes mentors’ role in boosting underrepresented students’ confidence in entering STEM fields, specifically how conversations on diversity and underrepresented students’ perceptions of their mentor influence their self-confidence. As Zackery seeks to make underrepresented students feel more welcome in STEM, she has found a welcoming community of her own in the mental health counseling program.
“Racial minority students bring with them a diversity of ideas and different ways of approaching the problems STEM fields are trying to solve,” Zackery said. “Effective mentorship is one way to improve the experience and the retention of racial minority STEM students.”
Zackery studies underrepresented students completing research projects of their own within the Oklahoma Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program. Dr. Sue Jacobs, counseling professor and Ledbetter Lemon Counseling Psychology Diversity Professor, is Zackery’s research advisor in the College of Education and Human Sciences.
Zackery credits her advisor’s support for her research success, describing it as part of an uplifting culture within the OSU counseling and counseling psychology program.
“The intentionally cooperative atmosphere is one of my favorite parts of this program,” Zackery said. “I appreciate the cooperativeness of the program between faculty and students, and I have been able to form relationships with other students as we support each other to become the best counselors we can be.”
While Zackery’s research is still in the early stages, she gains hands-on experience through the OSU Counseling and Counseling Psychology Clinic, confirming her choice of a career in counseling and more specifically the OSU counseling and counseling psychology program.
“I get to help individuals cope and grow through a variety of issues and it’s been an exciting experience so far,” said Zackery. “This placement gives me the opportunity to work with a lot of students and community members.”
For the clients Zackery helps and the underrepresented STEM students Zackery empowers, the OSU counseling and counseling psychology program has made all the difference.
“Counseling allows me to use the theories and concepts I learn in my classes to help people in a direct way,” Zackery said. “I have always been interested in people and how their minds work, and now I can use that in a career that makes a difference.”
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