Master of Science in Education in Counseling (MEC) program faculty and students presented at the annual Illinois Counseling Association (ICA) Southern Conference on March 30, 2012. Dr. Andrea Owens Fifield collaborated with three MEC students, Belinda Cullo, Denise Drebes, and Donna Holtmeyer, for a poster presentation entitled, "Association for Rural and Small Community Counselors: A Proposal." The presentation highlighted the unique counseling challenges and needs associated with practicing in rural and small communities, and to suggest avenues for enhancing counseling practice and collaboration in these areas. Dr. Fifield and her students hope a distinct division for rural and small community counselors within ICA, as well as within the American Counseling Association (ACA).
This was the MEC students' first experience presenting at a professional conference. The idea for their presentation grew out of a class project during the fall 2011 semester. Dr. Fifield saw the potential for a conference presentation and offered to mentor interested students through the process. The presentation was well received by both conference attendees and organizers, with the current ICA president offering the group valuable guidance on how to make their vision for a new ICA division a reality. Belinda Cullo reported, "It was quite encouraging to find so many professional counselors acknowledge our [idea] as a necessary component to our field. As a Masters student it was encouraging to feel accepted and validated, and in fact, it encourages me to continue to strive for ARSCC as a new division under the ICA." Dr. Fifield noted that "the students represented the Quincy University MEC program exceptionally well, and I look forward to facilitating continued professional involvement among MEC students."