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Sean Watkins

Leadership Spotlight – At 64, James Blake McHenry Follows His Passion

By | Alumni, Bachelor's Degree, Doctoral Degree, Faculty & Staff, Latest News, Master's Degree, News, Students, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Blake McHenry

Spotlight: Leadership Spotlight on James Blake McHenry (B.S. Business Management 2012 and current student in the M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling major.

Title/Profession: Professional coach and clinical counselor trainee

Union Institute & University’s historical commitment to ethical and creative leadership and the insights gained over the past 50 years as a leader in adult learning is the inspiration for the monthly series, Union Leaders.

This month James Blake McHenry shares his leadership insights. Blake is a Union alumni and current student who says he started his career backward. After 30 plus years in corporate America as a sales and human resources executive, he decided at the age of 55 that he wanted to be a life coach and counselor. He came back to Union and enrolled in the M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling major. He is now in his internship phase and graduates in the spring of 2019 at the age of 64. This spotlight completes our focus on the passion and purpose of the students and faculty in Union’s CMHC and Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate programs for National Recovery Month.

Q. How do you define leadership?

A. Leadership is the ability to lead teams to develop results. You know you are doing a good job when the team members model the leader’s behavior. That development differentiates a leader.

Q. Share an example of how you’ve put leadership in action.

A. I always looked for the potential in others, almost before they could see potential in themselves. I wanted to know the aspirations of the people who worked for me. Many times, I gave the chance for new opportunities to people who were not deemed manager material and I watched them flourish.

Q. What leader do you admire most and why?

A. I admire many leaders. In my professional life, I admire Mark King, former CEO at TaylorMade Golf Company. Mark is a remarkable person and leader who told us to enjoy the tough days as well as the bad days because there is always opportunity.

On a global scale, I admire Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi.

Q. What is your favorite inspiring leadership quote?

A. My personal mantra is to make meaningful contributions daily.

Q. When did you first feel that you were a leader? What was the experience?

A. When I was head of sales, I had a series of moments when I realized this is a tough job. There is so much complexity in the job. I thought WOW. Yet, I knew I could do the job.

Combine your passion and purpose to help others.

National Hispanic Heritage Month – Spotlight on Ana Elisa Baratta

By | Alumni, Bachelor's Degree, Doctoral Degree, Faculty & Staff, Latest News, Master's Degree, News, Students, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Dr. Ana Baratta

Spotlight: Dr. Ana Elisa Baratta

Title/Profession: Learning Specialist Coordinator Rinella Learning Center’s Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program at Miami University and student in the Union M.A. with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC).

Union is proud to serve a more than 25% undergraduate Hispanic adult learner population and to be the only university in Ohio designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education Hispanic-Serving Institutions Division.

This celebration is an opportune time to shine the spotlight on Dr. Ana Elisa Baratta. Ana is a native of El Salvador and a licensed psychologist in El Salvador. She earned her master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Educational Psychology with a minor in Counseling from Indiana University in 2003 and 2012 respectively.

Ana is enrolled at Union to follow her dream to help individuals recover and sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders? Find out more in the Q&A below.

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. My degree will allow me to reach three goals. 1. To work in the Latino community counseling in Spanish. 2. Create mental health awareness programs for schools and other entities. 3. Work in private practice.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I was led to this program because of Union’s commitment to social justice. Every course includes a social justice component. Also, the personalized study that Union offers can’t be matched.

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. Union has been a godsend. I am a wife, mother, and fulltime employee. Only Union respected my many commitments and understood I had to have flexibility with my courses.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Don’t worry about what other people think.

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. My parents never went to college but they instilled in me the importance of education. They supported all of my dreams. My husband has always been very supportive and understanding.

If you have a deep desire to help individuals recover and sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders, enroll today in the M.A. with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (CMHC) and/or Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate Program.

A Life of Purpose

By | Alumni, Bachelor's Degree, Doctoral Degree, Faculty & Staff, Latest News, Master's Degree, News, Students, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Amy Stenger-Sullivan

Spotlight: Union Alumna Amy Stenger-Sullivan M.A., L.P.C.

Title/Profession: Affiliated Faculty, Union Institute & University, Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice at Restoring Hope Counseling and Coaching, Inc.

Welcome to the “Alumni Spotlight” monthly series. Amy Stenger-Sullivan is living the UI&U mission of engagement, enlightenment, and empowerment through her commitment to help individuals recover and sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders. September is also National Recovery Month and offers the opportunity to highlight the passion and purpose of the students, alumni and faculty in the M.A. with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate.

Learn why Amy says her job fills her heart in the Q & A below.

Q. What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

A. Earning my master’s degree at this stage of my life while working full time in a job, which required travel, was a big feat for me! I feel a great sense of accomplishment. Professionally, I am grateful to be working at a job that fills my heart and contributes to the well-being of others. My advisor and professors at Union supported and encouraged me, which has led to an increase in my confidence. I am forever grateful for that.

Q. What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

A. I admire the commitment of my professors and Union’s support of the nontraditional learner.

Q. If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?

A. Take advantage of everything Union has to offer. Union gathers wonderful people together, both educators and learners, to advance all.

Q. What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

A. I am grateful I get to live what I feel is my life’s purpose: to listen to another with deep compassion. This seems to open up a space for them to begin their healing journey in earnest. I’m glad I listened to that little nudge to make a career shift in the half time of my life.

Q. What is your passion away from work?

A. Spending time with my family, kayaking, cooking and reading.

Today is the day to discover a career as a professional counselor. A Master of Arts with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is within your reach.

Union Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and Diversity

By | Alumni, Bachelor's Degree, Doctoral Degree, Faculty & Staff, Latest News, Master's Degree, News, Students, Union Institute & University | No Comments

The spotlight is on National Hispanic Heritage Month and Union’s commitment to diversity. Union is proud to serve a more than 25% undergraduate Hispanic adult learner population and to be the only university in Ohio designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education Hispanic-Serving Institutions Division.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15, highlighting the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. (https://hispanicheritagemonth.gov/about/)

Union is committed to diversity and social justice. We recognize that with knowledge comes the responsibility to serve in advancing a culturally pluralistic, equitable, and interdependent world. During this month, Union will highlight the students, staff, and faculty of Hispanic heritage with features, social media posts, and more. In addition, Union is active in Hispanic Chamber of Commerce associations across the nation.

In case you missed past spotlights, enjoy the two below.

Guillermina Hernandez is an early childhood expert who teaches in the Child & Adolescent Development (CHAD). She was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States at age three. Read more about Guillermina and her passion for teaching adult learners here.

Dr. Raul Manzano is an artist and professor of art. Last year he used art to celebrate La Ruza. Read more here.

Guillermina Hernandez

Dr. Raul Manzano

Union Institute & University is committed to providing diversity among its academic world and in the world at large. Learn more about Union’s mission below.

Passion and Purpose Drive – Becky Morrissey

By | Alumni, Bachelor's Degree, Faculty & Staff, Latest News, Master's Degree, News, Students, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Spotlight: Becky Morrissey, LPCC, LICDC-CS, ERYT500

Profession: Adjunct Faculty, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Course for undergraduates, Union Institute and University, and Licensed Professional Counselor.

Each month, faculty and staff are recognized for their enormous contribution to Union. This month Becky Morrissey is in the spotlight. September is also National Recovery Month and offers the opportunity to highlight the passion and purpose of the students and faculty in the M.A. with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate.

Learn what drives Becky in the Q&A below.

Q. What excites you about being a part of higher education

A. I am inspired by the process of innovation, creating learning experiences, and researching the evolution of how we learn using service, technology, history, and creativity.

Q. What attracted you to become a part of the Union family?

A. The online learning and teaching experience attracted me to the Union family, beginning in 2015 with Dr. Stella Marrie in psychology. I am excited to begin a fourth year with Union working with Dr. Rosalyn Brown-Beatty as well.

Q. If you could have any job in the whole world, what would it be?

A. Being a life learner is the best job! Teaching, research, and creating educational experiences for students and myself is my passion.

Q. What surprises people about you?

A. People have adaptive abilities that continue to surprise, inspire, and empower me to look to and remember to source the options in any situation.

Q. What is your favorite book, and why?

A. I love to read east-west spiritual studies, and I have many favorites. Pema Chödrön’s “Comfortable with Uncertainty” is a source of comfort and reflection.

Discover how your passion and purpose can turn into a counseling career.

Passion and Purpose Lead Antwan McKenzie-Plez

By | Alumni, Bachelor's Degree, Doctoral Degree, Faculty & Staff, Latest News, Master's Degree, News, Students, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Antwan McKenzie Plez

September is National Recovery Month and offers the opportunity to highlight the passion and purpose of the students and faculty in Union’s M.A. with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate programs.

Passion and purpose to help individuals recover is why Antwan McKenzie-Plez sought a career as a counselor. He will graduate in October with a M.A. in CMHC and a graduate certificate, prepared to make a difference in the lives of many. Learn more about Antwan in the Q&A below.

Q. What do you plan to do with your degree?

A. I am pursuing my passion to work with developmentally disabled adults. The drug abuse in this group is overlooked because there has been little to no research in this area. I am working to influence policy to help these individuals. The CMHC major requires an internship and now I am employed fulltime in a career where I can help people.

Q. What led you to this program?

A. I also completed my undergraduate work at Union and I was very pleased with my experience. I had to have a program that produces the brightest and best and I knew the highly regarded Clinical Mental Health Counseling major would prepare me to make a difference. I knew that I would be part of a cohort that offers the opportunity to share and learn from each other. The cohort became an extension of family. The camaraderie among my fellow students is extraordinary.

Q. Why did you choose Union for your studies?

A. Union offers personal growth. The program requires you to know yourself so you can help others. Counselors can’t be effective without self-awareness.

Q. If you could give a piece of advice to your 20 something, what would it be?

A. Do not put off your passion. Go for it!

Q. Who has influenced you the most in your life, and how have they influenced you?

A. My grandaunt took over the role of grandmother to me. She has been my biggest supporter. She taught special education for 40 years and inspired me to give of myself.

Your passion and purpose to help others can be your career!

Passion and Purpose

By | Alumni, Bachelor's Degree, Doctoral Degree, Faculty & Staff, Latest News, Master's Degree, News, Students, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Rosalyn Beatty Brown

Passion and purpose are the cornerstones of the UI&U Master of Arts with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling Graduate Certificate program.

Students enter the profession because they have a deep desire to help individuals recover and sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders. Antwan McKenzie-Plez entered the program for that reason. “I am prepared to make a positive impact on lives. Union has given me the best training possible.”

“Our mission is to support every student as a future professional colleague in gaining counseling concepts and skills, but also encourage reflective personal growth,” said Rosalyn Y. Brown Beatty, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, Director, Masters of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate Program.

Antwan agrees. “The self-knowledge I have acquired through my studies at Union allows me to be a better counselor. I just completed my internship and was hired by the company because of my excellent training.”

September is National Recovery Month and offers the opportunity to highlight the important work of the M.A. with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counseling – Graduate Certificate Program.

“The M.A. is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and led by scholar practitioners. Our accreditation ensures that students receive a curriculum based on the highest educational standards. CACREP is the accrediting body for master’s and doctoral degree programs in counseling and its specialties offered by colleges and universities in the United States and the world,” said Dr. Brown Beatty. “Our counselor educators pride themselves on being able to teach the theories, techniques, and skills required to become a counselor using decades of combined counseling experience to adequately prepare students to become practitioners in the field of counseling and building connection to the broader counseling professional network,” said Dr. Brown Beatty.

The Union certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling is a fully online graduate certificate offered as a stand-alone program or embedded in the M.A. major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

“This program trains and prepares professionals for a career in counseling individuals with substances use and abuse problems,” said Dr. Brown Beatty. “The certificate can be completed in just one year. An alcohol and drug abuse counselor specializes in providing counseling and support to individuals and families experiencing problems with substance use or dependence. This may include individual, family or group counseling about the causes and effects of addiction support for families dealing with addiction, and/or referrals to treatment.”

A benefit only available to Union students is the fully online library. Access to the library is a service few universities can match. It provides access to a growing collection of more than 125,000 electronic full-text periodicals via 150+ online licensed research databases, available to students 24/7, 365 days a year.

In addition, career services leads students to employers looking for their skill set through the job alert network. The career counselor also offers resume and interview services to successfully market students to a rewarding career.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a high growth rate for both occupations with a salary range of $39,000 to $65,680 for the mental health counselor field and a salary range of $39,600 to $73,050 for a drug and alcohol counselor.

“Union is known for transforming lives and communities. The UI&U Master of Arts with a major in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling Graduate Certificate program offers the opportunity to enter a rewarding profession that makes measurable improvement in the quality of the lives of clients, families, and society,” said Dr. Brown Beatty.

Combine your passion and purpose into the rewarding life of a counselor.

Faculty spotlight – Dr. Alison Hazelbaker

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Dr. Alison Hazelbaker

Union Institute & University is proud to join with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7) and the United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) in the celebration of National Breastfeeding Month during August.

Union is joining the observance with spotlights on the students, alumni, staff and faculty in the fully online Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation undergraduate program and M.A. Health & Wellness: lactation studies program.

Today, Dr. Alison Hazelbaker, faculty in the M.A. Health & Wellness: lactation studies program and UI&U Ph.D. alumna, is in the spotlight. Learn why she chose to teach at Union in Q & A below.

Q. What excites you about being a part of higher education?

A. Supporting the next generation of lactation consultants to do their best performance as clinicians.

Q. What attracted you to become a part of the Union family?

A. I attended Union for my doctorate and I had one of the most exciting and rich experiences of my life here. I have always thought that Union would be an excellent place for a lactation program so when it became possible to teach here, I was thrilled!

Q. If you could have any job in the whole world, what would it be?

A. I am doing my dream job as a clinician and an educator!

Q. What surprises people about you?

A. That I love dogs and have many.

Q. What is your favorite book, and why?

A. I have about 2000 favorite books! I love to read and my favorite genre is Science Fiction but I read my share of non-fiction with a few mysteries thrown in here or there.

Explore a rewarding career in the lactation profession with the fully online Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation undergraduate program or the M.A. Health & Wellness: lactation studies program.

Congratulations 2018 California Graduates

By | Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Latest News, News, Students, Uncategorized, Union Institute & University | No Comments

Union Institute & University California Commencement Ceremony was a day of celebration as over 160 adults received their diplomas and joined Union’s legacy to engage, enlighten, and empower in a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility on August 19, 2018.

Dr. Rhonda Brinkley-Kennedy, executive director of the Los Angeles Academic Center, welcomed the audience and reminded our graduates “there is only one Union Institute & University. It not only transforms our lives, it can – and does – transform the world around us.”

President of Union Institute & University, Dr. Karen Schuster Webb, congratulated the graduates and welcomed them into the legacy of service and leadership that our alumni provide to their communities every day.

Dr. Webb introduced the keynote, Adrienne Lamar Snider, Executive Director for Operations at the Child Abuse Prevention Center. Dr. Webb bestowed the university’s highest honor, the Doctor of Humane Letters: Honoris Causa to Ms. Snider with the following words. “ Ms. Lamar Snider, in recognition of your lifelong dedication to selflessly serve others and to provide pathways to success, it is an honor not only for Union to have you as our speaker today, but also to bestow upon you the university’s highest honor, the Doctor of Humane Letters: Honoris Causa. Through your life’s work, you have become a beacon of service, and one whose work echoes Union Institute & University’s beloved mission to engage, enlighten, and empower all to a life of learning, service, and social responsibility.”

Ms. Snider shared with the graduates that she understood their journey of work, family and courage to pursue their degrees. She reminded them how smart adults are because they possess the kind of experiential knowledge gained only from life experience. She also asked the graduates to think of what’s next in their lives.

Other Highlights included:

  • Grand Marshal – Dr. Birgit Monks, faculty in the undergraduate program.
  • Invocation – Presented by Kent Wilson, a new graduate in Criminal Justice Management.
  • Announcer – Dr. Allison Leggett, lead faculty for the Child and Adolescent Development major
  • Recognition of veterans – Designated by wearing a special red, white, and blue honor cord, in recognition of their service to our country.
  • “America the Beautiful” – Sang by Ms. Ami Bryant and Ms. Mercy Smith.
  • 2018 Mark Dunakin Award for Extraordinary Achievement – Awarded to Sergeant Heather Forsythe in honor of Sergeant Dunakin, a UI&U student killed in the line of duty and presented to a new graduate of the Criminal Justice Management major who serves in law enforcement and who emulates his commitment to community service and academic success.
  • Special thank you – Thank you to the Los Angeles Academic Center staff especially Ms. Camila Pulido, Ms. Katy Sue, and Ms. Brenda Melendez, who coordinated commencement events.

Congratulations 2018 California Graduates! Enjoy the pictures of the 2018 California Commencement Ceremony and connect with us on our Facebook page to see more commencement pictures.

Union’s next commencement ceremony will be the National Commencement on Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. at the Hilton Netherland Plaza in downtown Cincinnati.

Discover your UI&U academic path towards a new career.

Breastfeeding Month – Alumni Spotlight on Natashia Conner

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Natashia Conner

Welcome to the “Alumni Spotlight” monthly series. Learn how our Union Institute & University (UI&U) graduates are living the UI&U mission of engagement, enlightenment, and empowerment.

Featured this month: Natashia Conner Education: 2014 Union Graduate Maternal and Child Health – Human Lactation major

Profession: UI&U Professor Natashia Conner, MS, CHES, IBCLC in the Maternal and Child Health – Human Lactation major

Q. What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

A. Obtaining my B.S. in Maternal Child Health was world-changing for me. I started this program after having two traumatic births and what I would consider a mildly successful breastfeeding experience. This program opened my eyes to the issues of infant mortality and health disparities that exist within the African American community. I have since dedicated my life’s work to reducing health inequities that contribute to these disparities. As a result, of completing this program and working in the field of lactation, I went on to successfully breastfeed my third child for four years!

Q. What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

A. I most admire the administrative staff of my alma mater. Being a local resident (of Cincinnati), I remember spending many days working on countless assignments in the library/computer lab with my newborn baby. The staff was super encouraging and supportive. The support I received from the staff played a tremendous role in my ability to meet my academic goals.

Q. If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?

A. I encourage all of the students to utilize the services offered. The writing center is there to assist you. I remember complaining about how difficult the professors seemed to be when it came to perfecting my writing. Now that I am on the other side, I see that it was all for my benefit. Although college is hard at times, and life situations arise, things do get better and it will be well worth the struggle in the end.

Q. What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

A. My greatest accomplishment has been helping over 3,000 women, infants, and families through their breastfeeding journey. There is nothing more rewarding than to see a mom/dad achieve their goals.

Discover a rewarding career supporting breastfeeding with the Maternal Child Health: Human Lactation major or the Health & Wellness: Lactation Studies major.