Counseling & Dispute Resolution Alumni

Ahou Line '18

Ahou Line is a therapist who is currently pursuing a PhD in Counselor Education at UNT. She graduated from Simmons with a Master of Science in Counseling in 2018.

 

What do you do professionally and what is most rewarding about your job?

After graduating from SMU in May of 2018, I began practicing as a mental health therapist in a private practice in Dallas. I was able to provide mental health services to clients of all ages including children, adolescents, and adults. I especially enjoyed getting to provide play therapy services to younger children and adored working with parents.

 

In August of 2019, I returned to school while still maintaining my career in the private practice and began my journey through a doctoral program at the University of North Texas. I am working toward my PhD in Counselor Education and hope to complete this program by May of 2023. In 2021, I chose to leave private practice and am currently working full time as a doctoral student and graduate assistant.

   
2021 has been incredibly meaningful for me because all aspects of the doctoral program I am currently embarking on are allowing me to work toward my ultimate goal of teaching in a counseling graduate program. For example, through my role as a graduate assistant, I have developed (and currently) teach an 8-week Culture Centered Social and Emotional Learning course for all undergraduate education majors.

 

The course centers on the impact of culture in the classroom, the use of mindfulness and contemplative practices as a teacher, and how to provide social and emotional learning through instruction. This role marries my love for counseling and my experiences as a classroom teacher. This spring, I will embark on a research project to investigate the impact of this course on undergraduate students.

   

There are many rewarding aspects to this career. I love the fact that I get to provide direct impact through counseling (I still provide play therapy services within the elementary schools in Denton) and that I get to see the broader impact of my work through education. I love hearing from former students and supervisees to see how my curriculum or supervision has impacted their counseling with their own clients. My favorite part of my job is that I am never bored.

 

The counseling field has so many facets, and I find that I enjoy all of them which allows me to weave in and out of different roles daily. For example, some days I may be a student in a class, a professor teaching other students, a counselor, and a supervisor!

 

What were some of the most meaningful aspects of your education at Simmons?

There are so many aspects of my education at Simmons for which I am grateful. I would say the biggest thing that I continue to marvel at is the alumni support and connections I have made through the program. Some of my absolute best friends are people I met through my time at SMU. Beyond the personal connections, the professional connections I have made and maintained as a result of being a Simmons student are unmatched.

 

The counseling profession can be a small one, and I have had many professional experiences where our shared connections are a colleague or professor at SMU. In this field, word of mouth is so incredibly important, and I believe I would not be where I am in my career without the connections I have made as a Simmons alumna.

 

How did your education at Simmons prepare you for your professional career?

I often have students ask me about my opinions about choosing a graduate program for counseling and have to consider this question. Simmons provided me not only a didactic educational experience when it came to counseling, but I can truly say that every professor I had at SMU also prepared me for the career in counseling (which I believe are two very different things). I have pages and pages of notes from my time at SMU about what our professors would do in real world experiences. 

I am so appreciative of this because these things cannot be taught in a textbook. I loved that my professors at SMU were clinically focused and were incredible therapists on top of being incredible professors. Throughout the practical experiences I had at SMU, I learned so much about what it means to be a strong therapist. I have been able to use this learning not only to impact my own career as a counselor but also to guide my approach to teaching at the graduate level. I want to emulate what my own professors were able to do for me as a student.

 

What are some highlights from your experience as a SMU student?

As I mentioned above, I truly enjoyed my coursework at SMU because I believe that everything we learned was so practical. For students considering SMU for their counseling program, I always think about the professional networking opportunities I had as a student. In fact, the private practice I joined following graduation was a result of one of these opportunities.
   
Another highlight I had as an SMU student was the ability to serve the community. As a student, I served as the president of The Association of Student Counselors, and one of our events was to volunteer at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk. It was such an incredible experience to partner with other students and faculty to participate in such a meaningful event.
   
Furthermore, SMU provided us with many opportunities for our careers post-graduation. I especially enjoyed all of the work our faculty put into hosting career and internship fairs both for students and alumni. Even now, those experiences I had at SMU have helped me tremendously in my career because our faculty understands the importance of networking and meeting other mental health professionals in the field.

 

Why are you proud to be a Simmons alum?

I will always consider Simmons my professional home because it was there that I began the career with which I have fallen so deeply in love. Prior to counseling, I was a middle school teacher and then worked as a director in a non-profit.

 

Though both careers were meaningful, it wasn’t until my time at Simmons that I learned my worth and my true calling in a profession. Simmons always has a way of celebrating their students and understanding their worth. In my time as a student, I felt truly seen by my professors and believed that they always saw my utmost potential.
   
Now as an alumna, I continue to feel the same way. Since graduating, I have had the honor of speaking at our commencement ceremony and participating in countless alumni events including networking lunches, football games, and other professional opportunities.

 

With Dean Knight and Greg Weatherford at the helm, I continuously feel celebrated and honored as an alum. In fact, I recently had my first child, and was honored to have her celebrated through Simmons with her own SMU gear (including the cutest SMU onesie). It is experiences like these that make me feel honored to claim Simmons as my home and recommend this program to anyone considering a career in counseling.

   

Akiko Bremar '17

Akiko Bremar is a Recruiter and Program Manager at Alkami Technology. She graduated from Simmons with a Master of Science in Counseling in 2017.

 

What do you do professionally and what is most rewarding about your job?

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and primarily work within HR at a FinTech company, doing corporate recruiting and managing internship programs. The most rewarding aspect of my job is helping individuals at pivotal career points in their lives. 

Additionally, I work at a behavioral health hospital, conducting intake assessments for individuals who struggle with mental health and substance abuse. It is incredibly rewarding and humbling to be able to help individuals on their journey towards growth and recovery.

 

What were some of the most meaningful aspects of your education at Simmons?

The program smoothly incorporates classroom training with obtaining clinical practice hours needed to get licensed. Students are able to use SMU’s state-of-the-art counseling clinic onsite at SMU’s campus, which is fully equipped to provide services to children in play therapy, couples, families, and groups; and is equally equipped for students and professors to observe, record, and learn from sessions. 

Having the ability to practice counseling while fully supervised and supported by professors, who are all licensed mental health professionals, significantly added to my training and truly sets all SMU counselors apart from others who graduated from programs that didn’t have the same.

 

How did your education at Simmons prepare you for your professional career?

My education at SMU laid an incredible foundation for my professional career. My professors had academic knowledge; were always up-to-date with latest updates from national licensing boards; and had real-world experience counseling clients, opening private practices, and working in different mental health settings. The education and training I received at Simmons was hands-on and relevant, and helped me develop skills needed to effectively help others on their personal and professional journeys.

 

What are some highlights from your experience as a SMU student?

The main highlight of my experiences is what I have been able to take with me every day of my career. I met so many talented, capable, and intelligent colleagues and made life-long friends during my time at SMU. My education has shaped, and continues to influence, the professional that I am today.

 

Why are you proud to be a Simmons alum?

I am proud to be a part of a growing network of high-caliber academics and professionals. I have learned from some of the best in my industry, and continue to be impressed by the success of my peers and colleagues.

 

Michelle Lee Shugart '10

Michelle Lee Shughart is an Assistant District Attorney for Dallas County. She graduated from Simmons with a Master of Arts in Dispute Resolution in 2010.

 

What do you do professionally and what is most rewarding about your job?

I have been an Assistant District Attorney for Dallas County for over 15 years. I love many aspects about my job, but most of all helping the victims of crime get some sense of closure for harm they have suffered. For years they may wait for their day in court, but I get to help them have that day and make sure it is done correctly. My job is also about seeking justice in many forms. Often that also includes making sure the defendants are also getting the help they need to get back on the right path in their lives. This can be through mental health treatment, drug treatment, and education. It is in being able to address both of sides of crime, victims and defendants, that I find most rewarding. We are holding people accountable while at the same time we are helping to prevent future public safety issues.

 

What were some of the most meaningful aspects of your education at Simmons?

The instructors at Simmons provided me with the ground work to understand how conflict arises, the cycles and patterns it takes, and the multitude of ways to address it. I get to use this information in all aspects of my life, including personal relationships, interactions with coworkers, and developing creative solutions at my job. In particular the international classes provided an additional aspect to the classes and helped me further understand the complexities of conflict throughout the world.

 

How did your education at Simmons prepare you for your professional career?

The skills I learned through the Dispute Resolution program play a key aspect at my daily work. As the criminal justice system seeks to make changes in its approach to crime and punishment, the knowledge I gained through my conflict management classes becomes more important. Each case I evaluate requires me to look for the driving factors behind the crime and attempt to address them. The knowledge I gained in my classes regarding bias, thinking errors, emotional intelligence, and motivation for actions helps me better understand all sides of the problem.

 

What are some highlights from your experience as a SMU student?

SMU provides a solid learning environment for its students. It gives them the resources they need to enhance themselves. The interactions with other students and professors is essential to furthering ones readings and studies in life outside the classroom.

 

Why are you proud to be a Simmons alum?

I believe the Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management program through the Simmons school provides me with a more complete outlook on life and handling the daily difficulties it can bring. It allows me to seek a comprehensive understanding of the world and its connections with all living things. I think it is important for everyone to have these skills, especially with the major divides that split our current society and the world.

 

Matthew London

Matthew London '09

Matthew London is a Delivery Executive for SAP. He graduated from Simmons with a Masters of Dispute Resolution & Counseling in 2009.

 

What do you do professionally and what is most rewarding about your job?

I currently wear multiple hands in my professional life. I am a Delivery Executive for SAP, where I focus on the technology implementations for utility-based customers in North America. additionally, I am an adjunct professor focused and own a real estate business.

  

Each job has its different rewards, but the main reward I personally love is the ability to create value for my customers, students and stakeholders. Value can mean many things, but knowing that in each setting I am creating that is a rewarding experience.

 

What were some of the most meaningful aspects of your education at Simmons?

During my time at Simmons, I was exposed to a variety of different opinions and approaches that were instrumental in shaping who I am today as a professional. Having the ability to sit next to a peer with vast experience in education, law, business or liberal arts was an educational benefit that is not easily obtained in other programs.

 

How did your education at Simmons prepare you for your professional career?

The dispute resolution program at Simmons provided me with the opportunity to gain skills that are instrumental in my daily success. Whether it was learning how to "mirror" someone by leveraging re-phrasing techniques or understanding what a BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) was. Each lesson throughout my educational experience at Simmons taught me valuable intervention methods and approaches that I use every day that position my success in the business and education world.

 

What are some highlights from your experience as a SMU student?

Whether it was enjoying the Boulevard before a football game, or reviewing case law in Dedman law library for research papers. Each experience I had as an SMU student was a moment of excitement and pride. As had been the experience throughout my time at SMU, the opportunities to meet, see and learn from the best minds in the world is a right bestowed upon those that call themselves SMU students. This was no more self-evident than during the commencement ceremony for my graduating class, when we had the pleasure of hearing former first lady Laura Bush give the graduates a call to action. It was the capstone to an overall amazing time I had as an SMU student.

 

Why are you proud to be a Simmons alum?

The ability to travel around the country and say "I graduated from Simmons at SMU" when discussing my educational background and hearing a vast majority of people know exactly which school I am referencing is a source of pride for me. SMU is one of the most prestige universities in the world and Simmons is an extension of that legacy. The credentials and trust my education at Simmons brings me in the professional setting is invaluable.

 

Sharna Johnson

Sharna Johnson '15

Sharna Johnson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and the Founder of Awake to Dream Again, her private practice business. She graduated from Simmons with a Master of Science in Counseling in 2015.

What do you do professionally and what is most rewarding about your job?

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor. Owner and Founder of Awake To Dream Again, where I hold my private practice business. I also currently serve as a licensed Counselor on the Military installation of Fort Hood for Active Duty Service Members and their families. Mental health is essential to living. My goal is to always be a groundbreaker in the movement of educating society in effective ways of healing. The most rewarding aspect of my job is supporting clients discover the jewels hidden within by coming into a place of knowledge in what they are destined to do in life, identify what tools are needed to uproot seeds of stagnation and see them fulfill who they are destined to be now that they have discovered and identified their true selves.

What were some of the most meaningful aspects of your education at Simmons?

Meaningful aspects of my education at Simmons are the standard and pride instilled in students throughout the program that carries over to the professional market. The lasting connection, support and security the faculty members provide after graduation is a blessing and perfect for the field I am in. Though I live three and half hours away, I will travel to the campus in a heartbeat just to pour into the graduate students the same way it was done for me. The Counseling program taught me that I could accomplish anything with handwork, dedication, standard and confidence.

How did your education at Simmons prepare you for your professional career?

My education at Simmons prepared me for my professional career by allowing me to experience all types of client population during internship. Because of the training I had at Simmons, characteristics of a leader were encouraged and expected. The commitment, authenticity, compassion and love shown throughout the entire program encompass the Counselor I strive to be everyday. The confidence gained from a high standard curriculum and phenomenal faculty and staff has pushed me to be an advocate and expert for Mental Health awareness around the world.

What are some highlights from your experience as a SMU student?

Some of the highlights from my experience as a SMU student are lifelong personal and professional relationships, not only with other students but also with the professors. I know I will always be welcomed back onto the campus if I ever was in need and that's what a good educational program is about. Also, the networking opportunities given were priceless, I received an array of collaborative experiences with various professionals that I could model after.

Why are you proud to be a Simmons alum?

I am proud to carry the Simmons alum status because it changed my life and helped shape me into a leader within my field. Being a Simmons alum has given me the push to execute a vision called Awake To Dream Again. It has given me the opportunity to speak on a national television network as case study analysis, various radio platforms with a global reach and become a Mental Health advocate and trainer for Texas Independent School Districts. Not only does Awake To Dream Again offer counseling services, throughout the year, I host trainings, workshops, seminars and an annual conference to the local community.