Tupelo Advance Education Center

UM-Tupelo Counseling Students Securing Employment with Local Provider

Training helps students transition into counselors with Northeast Mississippi’s LIFECORE Group

TUPELO— What started as an internship opportunity for University of Mississippi-Tupelo students has now become a pipeline for employment that is placing highly trained counselors into Northeast Mississippi communities and schools.

“It’s a great thing when local people are completing their education and then using their knowledge and skills to help their neighbors,” UM Clinical Assistant Professor of Counselor Education Josh Magruder said.

“This partnership really speaks to the quality of students that are being educated and trained in Tupelo.”

Magruder serves as the on-site faculty for UM-Tupelo Master’s of Counseling Education program.           

As part of the graduate degree requirements, students in the program need to complete a 100-hour practicum and a final 600-hour internship experience in a counseling setting.

“When I came into this position on the UM-Tupelo campus, one of my main goals was to build relationships, especially with stakeholders that were interested in mental health,” Magruder said. “LIFECORE was one of the first groups I reached out to.”

LIFECORE Health Group provides integrated health services to children and adults living in Benton, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc, and Union Counties.  They serve approximately 6,000 individuals and their families who range in ages, races and socioeconomic levels.

Target patient populations are children and adolescents who suffer from severe emotional disturbances and adults who suffer from chronic behavioral health disorders or chemical dependency.

With over 245 employees, there are currently five LIFECORE offices that are located in Tupelo, Pontotoc, Ashland, Amory, and Houston. They also place counselors into 16 different school districts including those in Lee, Pontotoc, Union, Chickasaw, Benton, Itawamba, and Monroe counties.

“We realized that LIFECORE was interested in employing well trained counselors,” Magruder said. “The administrators were so pleased with the work and professionalism of our UM-Tupelo students that they eventually asked us to share internship and employment opportunities with any of our students who were interested.

“So, I began letting my students know that if they decided to intern with LIFECORE and they performed well, the group would more than likely find a job for them.”

Raquel Rosamond is the children and youth services division director for LIFECORE.

“The partnership between LIFECORE and the University of Mississippi has been wonderful in several aspects,” Rosamond said. “We have had the opportunity to gain employees who have a full understanding of counseling skills and theories.

“We are also able to build a rapport with the student interns and begin training them on how to use our electronic medical record system, writing progress notes, completing intake assessments, and begin the practice of diagnosing.”

Taylor Smith of Picayune received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UM in 2013. She decided to pursue a master’s degree in counseling.

“There was mental illness in my family, and I didn’t grow up in the greatest environment,” Smith said. “I chose this career because of some really good counselors that I worked with when I was in college. The progress I made was life-changing, and I wanted to help others to do the same.”

Smith was among the recent group of UM-Tupelo campus students who interned with LIFECORE and upon graduation was offered a full-time position with the group. Her current position includes serving as a support therapist in the Houston School District.

“I think my classes prepared me with the knowledge and then the internships gave me the experience that I would need to be successful,” Smith said. “I also really appreciated the cohort of students that I went through the program with. We still speak now, and they are a great resource in my career.”

Along with positions at LIFECORE, recent graduates of the master’s of counseling program at UM-Tupelo are also working in private practice, “Counseling for a Cause” in Tupelo, North Mississippi State Hospital in Tupelo, the Oxford Treatment Center, and the Region Four hospital in Booneville.

“There is a huge demand for mental health options in North Mississippi,” Magruder said. “There are so many people who are suffering and don’t know where to get help. We are happy that the UM-Tupelo students are getting such great training experiences here so that upon graduation they will be well-prepared to have a positive impact on mental heath in our community.”

The UM-Tupelo campus will host a special information session for the Master’s of Counselor Education program on Thursday, Oct. 26 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Hancock Leadership Center located in front of the UM-Tupelo campus on Briar Ridge Road.