Assistant professor analyzes the experiences of Black doctoral students in counselor education programs

Contact: Chris Hybels

Dr. Olivia Ngadjui

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Dr. Olivia Ngadjui, assistant professor of counselor education, recently co-authored an article in the Journal of Teaching and Supervision in Counseling about the experiences of Black doctoral students in counselor education programs. Her research explores how Black doctoral students at predominantly white institutions (PWIs), both past and present, forge their professional identities and how they navigate the program's challenges.

According to Ngadjui, the study highlights that Black doctoral students in counselor education programs develop a stronger capacity for self-reflection due to navigating culturally relevant challenges and stressors. This encompasses their internal experiences, such as feelings, thoughts and behaviors, and how they relate to their understanding of the doctoral program and interactions with others.

To collect qualitative data needed for the study, Ngadjui's team selected five participants from PWIs to complete intensive interviews over a five-month period. Questions asked during the interviews explored participants’ perspectives of their process of professional identity development, with careful attention toward centering their voices.

"It cannot be overstated how important it is to work with Black doctoral students individually and to disregard reflexive generalizations during interactions," says Ngadjui. "There is a need for decreasing instances of faculty disregarding the perspectives of Black doctoral students, especially during remediation involving environments lacking racial diversity."

Her research also identified a model for professional identity development focused on the internal journey of pursuing counselor education careers. Additionally, the model may be useful across different fields.

"The hope of our research team is that this model will provide inclusive insight toward the process of professional identity development of Black doctoral students and expand the capacity of faculty to support their journey while emphasizing and showing attentiveness about their wellness and growth as budding counselor educators," adds Ngadjui.


Western Michigan University's doctoral program in counselor education is designed to provide advanced–level preparation for counselors in various mental health and school settings as well as preparing counselors for the counselor education professorate in colleges and universities. Preparing counselors to work as counselor educators and supervisors is the program’s highest priority. The program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. To learn more, visit the counselor education doctoral program webpage.

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