APSU graduate student chosen for prestigious counseling services fellowship
Clarksville, TN (10/04/2023) — Oluwatosin Folarin, a third-year international student earning a master's degree in counseling from Austin Peay State University, was recently selected as an inaugural member of the United States Therapist Recruitment (USTR) Fellows through Fathers' UpLift.
Fathers' UpLift is the nation's first mental health and substance abuse treatment facility for fathers and families, which focuses on supporting fathers as they reenter the family unit.
This fellowship program is designed to increase the number of therapists of color in the mental health, behavioral health and addictions fields. USTR Fellows receive specialized training and professional development, clinical supervision, mentorship, funded licensure test prep, a significant stipend and access to employment opportunities post-graduation.
Oluwatosin will also receive guidance through a mentor in addition to individual, group and consultation supervision. She was one of 14 people chosen for this fellowship, and she was one of two from outside of Fathers' UpLift's state of origin, Massachusetts.
The competition for the fellowship was fierce; however, Oluwatosin believes her extensive experience with volunteer work set her apart from her competitors.
"I feel like one of the things that stood out about my application was my experiences and my professional experiences," Oluwatosin said. "I have a lot of experience working with children and in community service. I have done a lot of community service, and I worked on different projects sponsored by the United Nations, Google and RiseUp."
Oluwatosin will work under Fathers' UpLift's project section to help fathers and youths who are struggling with substance abuse. She will provide support services to families by connecting them with resources they can identify with.
"One thing that really stood out for me as an international [student] was that I can learn more about how to provide services to people of color, which is actually something that we don't have enough resources for," Oluwatosin said. "People of color most times [need] somebody who they can relate to and who can understand their society to see where they're coming from. This place has provided a platform for more counselors of color to provide services to fathers and to people who need it."
Oluwatosin will work with family units to increase their engagement and productivity within the family.
"'I'm so excited about this because I feel like when the family is right, it strengthens a family and their relationship," Oluwatosin said. "Youths learn from what is happening in their family. So, when they have less family engagement, and there are concerns within the family, it affects everybody's productivity."
In addition to the community project, she will counsel one to two clients over the course of her fellowship.
Oluwatosin's drive to better society and help others has ultimately motivated her to pursue a career in health counseling. Her ability to work with diverse groups and her compassion for humanity has allowed her to find success in her studies.
Dr. Kimberly Coggins, the program coordinator for APSU's Master of Counseling program, said Oluwatosin's "commitment to advocacy has been evident across her time in the program because she is learning counseling skills and learning how to work with people as a way to advocate for people who need something."
Oluwatosin has consistently sought out other learning opportunities during her studies, including internships that allow her to work closely with marginalized and underserved populations.
Her acceptance into the Fathers' UpLift fellowship will allow her to continue to grow her passion for advocacy within underrepresented communities.
"This fellowship through Fathers' UpLift is just an outpouring of the work that she's already done, building her skills as a counselor and as an advocate," Coggins said.
For more information about Fathers' UpLift, see the link below.