students gain real world counseling experience
front, and Rifenbary at the Traverse exhibit in Travelstead
Hall. Photo by Laurie Mellas Ramirez.
learning is a 21st century, higher education buzzword. Exceptional
in theory, to put a viable program into practice takes extreme
dedication on the part of faculty, students and professionals
in the community.
Education Traverse program in the UNM College of Education has
blossomed into a service-learning model bridging a gap between
the university and greater Albuquerque. Students step outside
traditional classroom boundaries to provide service and meet
real public need while learning and fulfilling requirements
for graduate degrees in counseling.
gain experience while working under close supervision at elementary,
middle and high schools, detention facilities, shelters, health
and career services and other support agencies.
without experience is like learning to swim without getting
in the water. Traverse throws you in the pool and provides several
lifeguards so you dont drown, said graduate student
lifelines as needed are UNM counseling faculty as well as school,
mental health and other professionals serving as mentors in
through the College of Education Deans Office for the
past several years, the Traverse program has existed since 1995.
It got its start after Deborah Rifenbary, Ph.D., associate professor,
and Wayne Maes, Ph.D., UNM professor emeritus, found that teaching
counseling classes off campus at a local school offered a stimulating,
real world environment for students. Gene Coffield, Ph.D, was
asked to develop the program and was hired as coordinator.
stands out because it puts students into the service environment
early in their graduate work, Coffield said. A tight structure
along with feedback provided by site supervisors and students
helped further refine and strengthen the program.
was placed with the New Mexico School for the Deaf in Santa
Fe where he participated in staff meetings.
gained a greater appreciation for the counseling profession,
Corwin said. Even though I did not provide any direct
services, I was able to see how an effective team sets the plan
for effective service. At times I was struck with the conversation
going on. We were involved in saving lives. It was rewarding.
Prentice, school counselor for La Cueva High School, serves
as a site supervisor and mentor.
a Traverse student always helps me clarify for myself why I
do what I do. It also benefits our program by encouraging us
to pass on the skills and collective knowledge we have acquired
through many years in the field, Prentice said.
who coordinates the Counselor Education program for the college,
said the caliber of graduates is telling of the programs
success. Albuquerque Public Schools named Kim Chavez, class
of 01, Counselor of the Year last spring.
Now a counselor at Alameda Elementary School, while in the UNM
Counseling Program, she completed a pre-internship in the Traverse
program assisting school counselor Geri Lynn Paiz-Chavez at
Los Padillas Elementary.
loved my experiences at UNM, Chavez said. Last year
I had a Traverse student as an intern here at Alameda.
completed her masters in counseling in 1998 and went to
work at the Santa Fe Rape Crisis Center. She is now a second
year doctoral student working closely with many of Traverses
38 site supervisors. The sites are generally happy with
the students and feel that they add to their programs,
Armbruster said. Traverse bridges the process of learning
how to be a counselor with actually being a counselor.
students at UNM based their dissertations on the program and
John F. Arman, class of 98, with David Scherer, Counselor
Education faculty, coauthored a scholarly article on the benefits
of Traverse published in the Journal of Humanistic Counseling,
Education and Development, Spring 2002, Volume 41.
program component is the UNM facultys relationship with
field site supervisors. Faculty share expertise and help those
working in the community remain current with contemporary trends
in counseling and mental health. Loan Phan, Ph.D., and Markus
Bidell, Ph.D., teach COE classes requiring a Traverse component
and are committed to fully integrating service learning
in their courses, Coffield said.
other benefits of service learning is the opportunity for students
to explore a variety of interests while still in school. Coffield
facilitates process groups at the end of each semester
so classmates can share experiences.
information on Traverse, call Gene Coffield, 277-7098.