New Concentration Educates Student Affairs Professionals

Dr. Olga Dietlin, associate professor of counseling, championed the new concentration in student affairs and higher education based on her own experience. Dietlin completed both her master’s and doctorate in higher education.The University is launching a new concentration this fall in the graduate counselor education program to empower student affairs and higher education professionals to excel in their careers.

The three-course concentration is geared toward those who are aspiring to, or professionals in, fields such as residence life, admissions, financial aid, counseling, advising, leadership development, service learning, career planning and placement, discipline and accountability, and support programs. Employment for postsecondary education administrators is expected to grow 10 percent — faster than average — by 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Dr. Olga Dietlin, associate professor of counseling, championed the new concentration based on her own experience. The Ukraine native was selected to complete her studies in the United States as part of the Edmund S. Muskie and Freedom Support Act Graduate Fellowship Program, established by Congress to enable citizens of former Soviet Union countries to pursue master’s degrees and internships. Dietlin completed both her master’s and doctorate in higher education.

“Student affairs professionals play a vital role in supporting college success,” Dietlin said. “Although opportunities to pursue graduate training in student affairs are widely present, few of these programs are offered at Christian universities.”

PBA offers master’s degrees in clinical mental health counseling and general counseling studies. The latter degree does not lead to licensure. Students pursuing either degree can opt for the new concentration in studies in student affairs and higher education.

The master’s in clinical mental health counseling is ideal for those who want to become mental health counselors in the university setting, while the general counseling degree is best for those who are interested in entry- and mid-level student affairs positions with a high emphasis on student development.

Those working toward master’s degrees in leadership can also incorporate higher education courses into their program to contextualize their leadership knowledge. They may earn a concentration in leadership in college settings.

Clinical mental health counseling student Kathleen Lovanice is among the first to add the concentration. She is grateful to learn from professors who incorporate academic knowledge of counseling and higher education with faith and holistic health.

She said she has always wanted to work on college campuses to enrich the lives of students from diverse backgrounds.

“Coming from an immigrant and first-generation background, I understand the struggles that college students face: differing cultures, grief and loss from being far from family and other challenges in navigating their campuses,” Lovanice said. “By gaining a better understanding of college mental health counseling, I hope to help build a resilient next generation that is more compassionate to themselves and others during life transitions.”

Photo: Dr. Olga Dietlin, associate professor of counseling, championed the new concentration in student affairs and higher education based on her own experience. Dietlin completed both her master’s and doctorate in higher education.