January 10, 2022

Business Executive to Apply Counseling Degree in Liberia

PBA News

Shereena Coleman was “working every rung of the corporate ladder” in economic development when she discerned a calling from God to use her talents to help others.

That calling led her to pursue a master’s degree in mental health counseling at PBA and eventually to Liberia, where she and her husband will move in February. In the West African nation, she will work in mental health counseling and economic development in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy. Her family owns a home there, and she and her husband are adopting their first child from there.

Coleman’s work in Liberia will combine her experience working as a vice president of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County and as a mental health counseling intern. In her current corporate nonprofit job, she helps companies recruit, retain and expand their employee bases in Palm Beach County.

One issue that hinders recruiting nationwide is the prevalence of opioid addiction, Coleman said. The Florida Blue Foundation tapped the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County Foundation to launch Project Opioid Palm Beach, a coalition of business, nonprofit and faith-based leaders. The leaders set to work defining the impact of opioid abuse, identifying treatment and community resources and developing a strategy to reduce opioid deaths in Palm Beach County.

Coleman leveraged what she learned in her PBA classes and as an intern in an addiction treatment center. She recruited her professor, Dr. Phil Henry, to speak on a panel about the brain science of addiction and the role that faith can play in combatting it. Other participants on a virtual launch panel included Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay.

Members of Shereena Coleman’s tribe in Liberia greeted her at a Welcome Home ceremony where they presented her with traditional clothing and gifts. Her dad is seated.

“This project was an incredible opportunity for me to leverage my professional work with what I was doing with school and mental health training,” Coleman said.

Having completed her PBA studies last month, Coleman is eager to use her counseling education in Liberia. A trip to Liberia in 2019 opened her eyes to the great need for mental health services in the nation that has experienced more than a decade of violence and civil war. Her PBA education, facilitated by her friendship with former University President Bill Fleming, made it possible, Coleman said. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have studied at Palm Beach Atlantic.”

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