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Pamela Harris joins W&M Counseling Faculty

Pamela HarrisTell us a little about your background and what brought you to W&M.
I was working as a middle school counselor when I saw a professor and doctoral student from William & Mary's counseling program speak at a work function. I connected with these individuals after the presentation and realized that they were doing the work that I wanted to eventually do — train future counselors to better prepare them to work with individuals and families from diverse backgrounds. I got accepted into the Counselor Education & Supervision doctoral program at William & Mary and graduated in 2016. My time at William & Mary helped to frame my research and teaching philosophies, and I was fortunate to take the lessons I learned at W&M and build upon them at other institutions.

When I heard that William & Mary was expanding their counseling program to enter the online arena, I could not be more thrilled. As a former student, I knew that the online program would offer a quality education that could reach more students. I've been dipping my toes into online teaching for over 10 years and I know the positive impact it could have in the counseling field. I jumped at the opportunity to join the online counseling program because I know that William & Mary was going to find a way to integrate its hands-on approach even through an online platform.

What’s your area of research and what question are you most passionate about answering right now?
I study culturally responsive counselor preparation, in particular forming school-family partnerships with families of color, and college and career readiness of Black female students. As a school counselor, I realized how underprepared I was to collaborate and consult with families. I made it my mission to study and practice family counseling during my doctoral studies as a way to find an effective way to integrate both worlds. Moreover, as a Black female, I was also painfully aware how little support Black female students have in terms of navigating postsecondary options, especially if you're a first-generation college student. As a counselor educator, I'm always searching for ways to bring more attention to these areas.

As far as the question I'm most passionate about answering right now, it would probably have to be: what are we doing to support Black families in the midst of the recent social injustices?

What else are you hoping to get involved with on campus or in the community?
I teach for the online counseling program, though I have recently moved back to the Williamsburg area. As a doctoral student, I had the pleasure of working with the New Horizons Family Counseling Center, which is now part of the Flanagan Counselor Education Clinic. I would love to find opportunities for the counseling students in the online program to have the same wonderful training experiences that the clinic provides to local communities and schools.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I'm so thrilled to return to William & Mary at a time that seems to be teeming with possibilities! I'm looking forward to working with my students and colleagues.