Counseling Professor Sharon Horne Wins Award for Inspiring Students
September 26, 2012
Sharon Horne, an associate professor of counseling and school psychology, says mentoring students at University of Massachusetts Boston is the best part of her job. So she was happy to learn she had been selected as the 2012 winner of the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award, which recognizes teachers who have inspired students to make a difference in their communities.
“I’ve been fortunate to have so many wonderful students to work with, and to have found this department that’s very committed to mentoring students and fostering their development,” Horne said. “Research and scholarship and community service are important, but knowing that you’ve had an impact with students is really wonderful.”
The Beckman Award is given to current or former academic faculty members who influenced students to “create an organization which has conferred a demonstrable benefit upon the community at large.” The award was established in 2008 by Gail McKnight Beckman in honor of her mother, an educator and author who was regarded as a pioneer in the field of psychology.
Horne was nominated by Mary Burke, who was Horne’s student at the University of Memphis. Burke is now the director of training for the counseling psychology program at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, and is the founder and director of the Project to End Human Trafficking. In her nomination, Burke described Horne as “an inspiration and role model” who played an “extremely influential” role in her work on the Carlow program.
“She was known to consistently take extra time with students and to take a meaningful interest in our professional and personal development,” Burke wrote in her nomination. “Horne has spent much of her life engaged in activities in support of underserved populations and women who live in regions of the world where they are especially vulnerable.”
Horne, entering her third year at UMass Boston, isn’t resting on her laurels. She is teaching two classes, Foundations of Counseling Psychology and Ethics for incoming doctoral students in counseling psychology, and Internship in Mental Health for the Masters in Mental Health program.
She is also director of training of the counseling psychology track for the new PhD program in Counseling and School Psychology, which admitted its first cohort this fall. The program focuses on engaging students in local and global social justice issues under the guidance of their professors. “We are continuing the mentoring tradition that’s already present in this department,” she said.
Horne tries to inspire her students by helping them identify their strengths and working with their communities. The first course in the program has students participate in a group project to see how they can become involved in a local social justice issue and learning what skills they can contribute to the project.
“Psychology isn’t just sitting in a room being a therapist, but engaging the larger issues of our time. It’s all about learning and growing and developing who we are as professionals and not ignoring the personal side of why we become psychologists,” she said.
Horne said the Boston is a perfect fit for students seeking to become socially engaged. “It’s such a multicultural and diverse place. Any area you care about, you’re going to find connections. Students can figure out how to be helpful while being mindful of what communities need and desire, and how to become part of that as opposed to being a distant observer.”
Internationally, Horne has worked with NGOs serving women who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault in countries like Kyrgyzstan, Hungary, Romania, and Uzbekistan, and has been an academic fellow with the Soros Foundation Open Society Institute at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, since 2005. One of Horne’s former students from Bishkek, who has been a psychology faculty member at AUCA, has joined the UMB counseling psychology incoming cohort as an Open Society Institute doctoral fellow. Horne also works with issues related to the LGBT community, with the goal of improving and strengthening the lives of LGBT individuals within a social justice framework.
The Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award ceremony will be held at the Carter Center in Atlanta on November 10. Horne said she plans to attend, possibly accompanied by her two young children and her partner, fellow faculty member Heidi Levitt, an associate professor of psychology.