A True Knight

By: Graduate Studies on

Shainna Ali

Counselor Education PhD candidate Shainna Ali is a true Knight, and not just because she already holds two degrees from UCF and is working on her third. Ali embodies UCF’s core values of integrity, excellence, respect, service, and continuous improvement.

A first-generation, multicultural student, Ali has always been eager to learn and grow. “Pursuing higher education is a blessing not only for myself but for my parents who left their home country to offer their children better opportunities,” Ali states. And UCF has provided ample opportunities for her to learn both in the classroom and beyond. Through the Office of Undergraduate Research, Ali participated in the Summer Research Academy, Honors in the Major Program, and the Research and Mentoring Program. She was awarded the RAMP Fellowship in 2010 which allowed her to pursue a graduate degree.

Utilizing her undergraduate background in cultural sensitivity developed in the Anthropology program, Ali decided to pursue mental health counseling. She is driven by the need to understand and respect cultural differences. Her research interests include gender and sexuality, addictions, marginalization, and multiculturalism and diversity with a strong focus on the needs of the underserved.

When it comes to diversity, Ali explains, “gaps in the literature potentially impede on counseling effectiveness. It is a main effort of mine to assist in tending to these areas and assisting in developing counseling literature, education, and practice at large.” To date, Ali has authored more than 30 articles and presentations on topics ranging from Holocaust educational practices to exploring the mental health benefits of world dance. She was awarded first place in the Education category at the 2015 Graduate Research Forum in March, and went on another first place win at the Statewide Graduate Student Research Symposium in April.

Ali appreciates the balance between independence and community within the Counselor Education program. The cohort design provides community, assistance, and support while still allowing her the flexibility to pursue her own research interests. Ali earned her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, her master’s in Mental Health Counseling, and will complete her doctorate in Counselor Education in 2016. Her long-term goal is to help clients by contributing to best practice methods and effective education.

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