Shekila Melchior, from Dale City, Virginia, a student in the counselor education and supervision Ph.D. program at Virginia Tech, has been awarded a $20,000 fellowship from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Foundation to support her education and service to underserved minority populations.

The fellowship is made possible by a grant awarded to NBCC by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Part of the School of Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech’s counselor education program prepares students through course work and practical training for careers as counselor educators, clinical supervisors, or advanced clinicians.

Melchior’s research interests include social justice and advocacy as a school counselor; international counseling with populations in developing nations and with women who are victims of the sex trade industry; and trauma sensitivity in schools, specifically with underserved students.

“Shekila is the third counselor education student in three years to be awarded the NBCC Minority Fellowship,” said Gerard Lawson, associate professor in the School of Education. “This is an incredibly competitive fellowship, and Shekila is so deserving. We are thrilled that NBCC has seen the same high-quality knowledge, skills, abilities, and limitless potential that we have experienced with her in our program.”

Melchior holds a master’s degree from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Besides her academic pursuits, Melchior is communications coordinator for the immigration activism group Martinsville-Henry County Dreamers and has worked with local public schools on minority recruitment and retention. 

Melchior works with Virginia Tech's  Housing and Residence Life in the Residential College at West Ambler Johnston Hall. She serves as a graduate resident fellow in Hawthorn House, one of four communities within the residential college. In this role, Melchior lives in West Ambler Johnston and mentors students in Hawthorn House. Though she is in her first year in this position, Melchior’s leadership and dedication has made a major impact on the residential college, and she will return next year to continue her work in fostering community among students and advancing awareness for underrepresented populations.

“Shekila has helped weave intellectual programming into the fabric of that house,” said Matthew Gabriele, associate professor in the Department of Religion and Culture and faculty principal of the residential college. “She’s a mature voice and a welcome presence that the students can turn to both as a mentor and as a friend.”

Melchior’s grant is one of 23 awarded in April by the NBCC Foundation’s Minority Fellowship Program. The program’s goal is to engage diverse individuals in counseling and to increase the number of counseling professionals providing effective, culturally competent services to underserved populations.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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