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Doctoral student leader in counseling forges path to faculty role

  • Commencement Feature Series:
    Commencement Feature Series:  Victor Tuazon Ph.D. '18  
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When Victor Tuazon arrived on campus four years ago, he already had a strong and diverse background in counseling. He’d worked with at-risk youth, domestic violence perpetrators, people recovering from trauma, and those in re-entry programs for the incarcerated. He’d provided counseling and training services across the globe, including Romania, Brazil and Mozambique.

He came to W&M to pursue his Ph.D. in counselor education, attracted by the school’s reputation, the small cohort sizes and highly collaborative environment, as well as the on-campus training clinics which offered unique opportunities for service and leadership.

On Saturday, he’ll graduate with a GPA of 3.98 having already landed his top-choice job as an assistant professor of counselor education at New Jersey City University (NJCU).

“Victor is one of our finest and most accomplished students,” said Rip McAdams, professor and chair of the School Psychology and Counselor Education department. “He is a highly proficient, ethical and responsible professional who engages in reflective and collaborative practice and provides leadership for his discipline.”

For the past two years, Tuazon has served as student director of the New Leaf Clinic, William & Mary’s training clinic specializing in addictions and substance abuse counseling. The center provides free counseling and educational services to W&M students and individuals from the broader community who are struggling with addiction and substance abuse.

As student director, Tuazon is responsible for all leadership aspects of the clinic’s operation, including day-to-day administration and clinical supervision of the master’s interns who provide counseling services, as well as providing direct clinical service to clients.

“My experience with the New Leaf Clinic was very formative because it gave me space to not only continue to grow as a counselor, but as a supervisor, educator, and overall leader,” said Tuazon. “It’s been humbling to be an intricate part of my interns’ growth in the program and I have grown so much myself through this opportunity.”

When asked about the greatest challenge he encountered while completing his doctorate, Tuazon pointed to the frequently overwhelming array of opportunities available within the program and the field at large. As a doctoral student, finding the right balance of research, teaching, supervision, service, and clinical work—all while maintaining W&M’s standards for academic excellence and demand for rigorous scholarship—was at times daunting.

“Fortunately, I had support and mentorship on how to navigate all the opportunities—where to focus and how to say ‘no’ to some opportunities and a wholehearted ‘yes’ to others,” he said.

Scholarships and fellowships also helped. In addition to two scholarships, Tuazon was selected as both an AACTE Holmes Scholar and a NBCC Doctoral Minority Fellow, which provided financial, professional and social support throughout his doctoral program.

His research work has been extensive, with his dissertation focusing on the impact of a parent’s death during adolescence. In addition to examining the effect on an individual’s psychosocial developmental strength, he also analyzed what factors most helped mitigate the trauma and allow for posttraumatic growth.

“The findings of Victor’s study are an important contribution to the counselor education knowledge base and a valuable resource for counselors who more and more frequently are tasked with assisting clients with recovery from personal trauma,” said McAdams.

As Tuazon prepares to join the faculty at NJCU this fall, he feels excited and well-prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. “The school is very diverse and has a high number of first-generation college students, refugees and DACA recipients, and I am very much looking forward to working with this student population,” he said.

And while he’ll leave big shoes to fill at the New Leaf Clinic and within the counselor education program, the faculty are quick to recognize that he’s ready to leave the nest.

“Attention to detail, rigorous examination of science, and commitment to excellence are hallmarks of Victor’s approach to his academic assignments, clinical practice, and research,” said McAdams. “He exemplifies the best qualities of an emerging counselor educator and will be a fine colleague.”