A&M-Central Texas Counseling Student Awarded National Fellowship

Karen Clos
February 14, 2024

A&M-Central Texas graduate student Leiah Ortiz

A&M-Central Texas graduate student and Nolanville resident Leiah Ortiz has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from The National Board of Certified Counselors – Minority Fellowship Program, a federally-funded program designed to increase the number of counselors working with underserved minority populations. Ortiz is one of 37 fellows selected across the United States for a $10,000 fellowship.

Assistant Professor of Counseling in the College of Education and Human Development, Samantha Airhart-Larraga, Ph.D., said she was overjoyed for her student, who is now almost halfway through the graduate program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

“The faculty in the counseling program know their students and their academic and professional goals, and they devote themselves to seeing those students develop into strong, professional, compassionate practitioners who exemplify the best of the profession,” she said.

“This fellowship is a tribute to her hard work, her vision for her career and those she hopes to serve, and the strength of the counseling program at A&M–Central Texas.”

For her part, Ortiz said she is completely thrilled and very grateful to have been selected for the fellowship, especially because she knew when she applied that it was a competitive process including many worthy candidates from many other counseling programs around the country.

“To know that I was selected reaffirms that there are people out there in the world who really want to see others grow and contribute to their desire to help others,” she said.

“I will always be grateful and intend to pay it forward throughout my career after graduation. My hope is that all underserved communities have greater access to mental health care and advocacy support.”

Expecting to graduate in May 2025, Ortiz hopes to focus her practice on supporting the diverse needs of the LBGTQ+, Latinx, and unhoused populations, building on the work that others have done to support these communities’ mental health needs.

Now approaching the university’s 15-year anniversary, the A&M-Central Texas graduate program in counseling psychology has more than 524 alumni serving the region, state, and nation as counselors, clinicians, advocates, and scholars.

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