Clinical Mental Health Counseling Student at Husson University Wins ACA’s Essay Competition Grand Prize

May 16, 2023
Essay addressed the need for multicultural counseling excellence
BANGOR, MAINE – May 16, 2023 –
Each year, the American Counseling Association’s (ACA) “Tomorrow’s Counselors” essay competition recognizes graduate counseling students who demonstrate “exceptional insight and understanding about the counseling profession and the work of professional counselors in mental health, private practice, community agency, agency, organization or related counseling settings.”[1]

This year’s grand prize winner was Husson University’s Beth M. Sharp. She is pursuing a Master of Science in clinical mental health counseling through the University’s School of Education. The School of Education is part of Husson’s College of Science and Humanities.
“I was honored to receive the grand prize for my essay
, ‘May We Never Settle for Competence,’” said Sharp. “Part of my essay implored my fellow counseling professionals to seek a world where lives are both celebrated and valued. We must incorporate excellence into multicultural counseling by creating space for more voices at the table. Exploring multiculturalism through an inclusive and holistic lens is essential if we are to facilitate relationships where people are treated with dignity and respect.”
In addition to being named the 2023 grand prize winner, Sharp received a $1,000 honorarium and a complimentary registration to the 2023 ACA Conference and Expo
.[2] The expo ran from March 30 – April 1, 2023.[3] Her essay will also be published in a future edition of Counseling Today, a magazine published by the American Counseling Association.[4]
A panel of ACA and ACAF (American Counseling Association Foundation) leaders served as the judges for essay competition.[5] Any student enrolled in a counseling-related graduate program in the fall of 2022 could submit an essay for consideration.[6] All of the essayists also had to be student members of the American Counseling Association.[7] Only one essay could be submitted by each ACA student member.[8]  
How well ideas were explained and supported was one of the criteria used by the judges to determine the winners.[9] The objective was to determine how effectively the writers presented their views. The judges also considered how interesting the writers’ positions would be to the counseling community at large.[10]
To apply, the students in the graduate counseling-related programs had to submit an essay of 500 words or less on the following theme: “One of the core professional values of the counseling profession is honoring diversity and embracing a multicultural approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts. Discuss what it means to be a culturally competent counselor, how it may be beneficial to the client, and its impact on your professional identity as a counselor.”[11]
“We’re very proud of Beth. Winning this prestigious national essay competition is a major accomplishment and an example of Beth’s advocacy,” said Dr. Deborah Drew, a professor and the director of the graduate counseling programs at Husson University. “Her commitment to becoming an outstanding clinical mental health counselor is commendable. Her dedication to this profession and multiculturalism is now a part of the chorus of voices working to improve society as we serve our clients.”
Even though Sharp was unable to attend the national ACA conference in Toronto to receive her award on March 30, the event acknowledged her achievement by projecting her photo during the opening session on three giant screens with over 1,000 people in attendance. After the national conference concluded, she was able to attend the Maine Counseling Association (MeCA) conference in Rockport on Monday, April 3, 2023, where she was heartily applauded by counselors from across the state for winning this essay contest’s grand prize. 
“Awards like this are a testament to the quality of counseling education available here at Husson University,” said Dr. Phillip A. Taylor, III, dean of the College of Science and Humanities at Husson University. “Students like Beth are why Husson University continues to be regarded as one of the best clinical mental health counseling educators here in Maine.” 
Another measure of quality is the pass rate of Husson students taking the National Counselor Examination (NCE). In March of 2022, 100% of Husson University’s clinical mental health counseling students passed their NCEs on their first attempt. Passing this exam is a requirement for counselor licensure in many states.
“We’re one of only two educational institutions in the state accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Program (CACREP), a specialized accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA),” continued Drew. “CACREP sets the standards for the education of professional counselors.”
Students in the graduate counseling program learn from faculty who have work experience as counselors. Their ability to share their real-world experiences helps students know what to expect as practicing counselors after they graduate.
The facilities at Husson University are another reason why this program is so successful. Students practice counseling skills in lab settings where sessions can be recorded and reviewed or observed live by their fellow students and faculty in another room. This provides practicing students and the other graduate counseling students with a chance to review, learn and critique the session. During the clinical phase of the program, students refine their skills while placed in clinical counseling settings where they see clients under the supervision of University faculty members and clinical site supervisors. These experiences provide students the opportunity to develop their skills and clinical processes through ongoing participation, observation, and supervision.
A complete list of the counseling-related coursework being offered during the summer and fall semesters can be found at Individuals interested in enrolling in any of these educational opportunities can complete the online non-degree application form at Directions are provided for anyone taking courses at Husson for the first time.
Part of the School of Education at Husson University, the graduate counseling and human relations program, which includes the clinical mental health counseling, human relations, and school counseling programs, is designed to prepare and graduate highly proficient and dedicated professionals in counseling and human relations who are committed to both ethical and evidence-based principles and practices. Aligned with the vision of the American Counseling Association, program graduates are prepared to empower diverse individuals, families and groups so they can reach mental health, wellness, education, and career goals. To learn more about Husson’s graduate counseling program, visit
The University’s School of Education is part of Husson’s College of Science and Humanities. The faculty at this College includes psychologists, poets, educators, historians and an extraordinary team of writers and scientists.
For nearly 125 years, Husson University has shown its adaptability and strength in delivering educational programs that prepare future leaders to handle the challenges of tomorrow through innovative undergraduate and graduate degrees. With a commitment to delivering affordable classroom, online and experiential learning opportunities, Husson University has come to represent a superior value in higher education. The hallmarks of a Husson education include advanced knowledge delivered through quality educational programs. According to an analysis of tuition and fees by U.S. News & World Report, Husson University is one of the most affordable private colleges in New England. For more information about educational opportunities that can lead to personal and professional success, visit
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[1] American Counseling Association, “Tomorrow’s Counselor’s Essay Competition,”, Accessed: May 10, 2023
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid
[5] Ibid
[6] Ibid
[7] Ibid
[8] Ibid
[9] Ibid
[10] Ibid
[11] Ibid
Eric B. Gordon, Executive Director of Communications, (207) 992-4925

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