Assistant professor to present on professional identity in counselor education

Contact: Chris Hybels

Dr. Olivia Ngadjui

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Dr. Olivia Ngadjui, assistant professor in Western Michigan University's Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology, has been selected to present at the European Branch of the American Counseling Association's (ACA) annual conference. ACA is the world's largest association exclusively representing professional counselors in various practice settings. Ngadjui will be traveling to Amsterdam to present her research on professional identity development among counselor educators.

Ngadjui's research looks at assimilation, acculturation and integration and how it relates to the professional identity development of racially minoritized faculty in counselor education. Her research examines what it would look like if a counselor education student was taught by a faculty member who only taught their own profession specialties.

"When I'm teaching my counseling and lifespan development course, I'm a theoretically integrated, licensed professional counselor," says Ngadjui. "So if I taught it and told students that was the best way to be, what would that mean for them in the future when they became counselors? Would they do what I said without thinking about who they were or with?"

According to Ngadjui, earlier research on professional identity development in counselor education also didn't include culture to an extent, as it was relatively generalized.

"For me, it's very important to consider culture in counselor education," says Ngadjui. "Something I tend to say to my students is that culture is technically knowing that you grew up in the same house with someone, but you two like different types of ice cream. Or you grew up in the same house and you both had a completely different experience. That's culture."

Ngadjui is hopeful her presentation will encourage counseling educators to be more open in promoting advancement and curiosity among their students.

"I'm incredibly excited that Dr. Ngadjui's work is being recognized internationally," says Dr. Luchara Wallace, associate dean of the College of Education and Human Development. "The model that she developed is one that I think we should look into replicating at WMU and expanding on her work."


Ngadjui joined the Department of Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology as an assistant professor of counselor education in August 2021. She is a nationally certified counselor and a licensed professional counselor for the state of Idaho. She received her doctorate in counselor education from Idaho State University. Her dissertation entitled “Shaking Up The Room: The Process of Professional Identity Development of Black Doctoral Students in Counselor Education,” received full national funding from ACES as well as the Association for Adult Development and Aging. 

Ngadjui also has a master’s degree from George Washington University in clinical mental health counseling where she received the 2021 Dean’s Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award. She also has presented at multiple counseling, associated mental health and educational conferences nationally, regionally and locally. Relatedly, she received the Rocky Mountain Association for Counselor Education and Supervision’s 2020 Emerging Leader honor as well as the 2020 Multiculturalism and Social Justice Advocacy Award. She also received the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development’s 2021 Kim Lee Hughes Womanista “Wings” Award.

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