Counseling & Dispute Resolution Alumni

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.

Condensed and edited.