Bryce Henderson M’22 and Katelyn Leboeuf M’22 have made impressive achievements during their time as graduate students at Merrimack and are now ready to launch their careers as K-12 school counselors. Earning their Master of Education in School Counseling degrees this spring, Bryce and Katelyn have worked diligently to ensure their success both inside and outside of the classroom—and their commitment to the field of education has not gone unnoticed. Both students have been recognized by the Massachusetts School Counselors Association (MASCA), with Bryce receiving the organization’s Graduate Student of the Year award and Katelyn earning a position as Graduate Student Liaison.
Bryce Henderson M’22
Bryce Henderson M’22 is ready to fulfill his long-term dream of becoming an elementary school counselor. He attended Lesley University to earn a bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology, intending to work as a school counselor post-graduation. However, during his time as an undergraduate student, Bryce discovered a passion for higher education that led him to change career paths. After graduating in 2017, he worked at Suffolk University and his alma mater, Lesley University, in a variety of admissions and financial aid roles. Although he enjoyed the opportunity to work closely with prospective students, he felt drawn to return to a career in school counseling.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bryce was presented with an opportunity to take a leave from his position at Lesley University. Eager to further his dream of working as a K-12 school counselor, he applied for and enrolled in Merrimack’s Master of Education in School Counseling. He explains that he chose to attend Merrimack due to its small size, affordable degree program and opportunities for students to help with program growth and development.
In addition to taking courses full time at Merrimack, Bryce has worked at an elementary school in Lexington, Massachusetts for the past two years to gain experience in the field. He shares, “I ended up really just falling in love with the work and the methods and procedures behind school counseling.”
Bryce’s commitment to his academic studies and to his work inside the Lexington school system caught the attention of several Merrimack faculty members. One in particular, adjunct faculty member and Director of Equity and School Counseling for the Ayer Shirley Regional School District, Larainne Wilson, decided to nominate Bryce as Graduate Student of the Year, a new award offered by the Massachusetts School Counselors Association (MASCA). MASCA, an organization that seeks to provide support, advocacy and professional development opportunities for school counseling professionals, grants several awards each year to professional counselors working in the field as well as graduate students enrolled in school counseling programs.
The MASCA Graduate Student of the Year commendation is awarded to a graduate student in either a masters or doctoral level program in school counselor or counselor education who consistently demonstrates excellence in the classroom. MASCA further describes that the awardee enhances the learning of their peers, demonstrates a robust understanding of the role of the school counselor and demonstrates academic excellence.
As part of her nomination, Larainne wrote, “Bryce is inquisitive, thoughtful, insightful, reflective and personable. Bryce is committed to the success of his students and wants his workplace to be mindful of issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. As successful he is as a student, I think he will succeed even more so in the field.”
Thanks to Larainne’s recommendation, MASCA reached out to Bryce to let him know he was in the running to receive the Graduate Student of the Year award. In response, Bryce was asked to write an essay discussing the work he has completed over the past two years. Not expecting to receive the award, Bryce was pleasantly surprised to learn that he had, in fact, been named Graduate Student of the Year. “I feel it’s a testament to the fact that the work I’m doing matters, and that I’m on the right path to making a difference—that’s why I’m in the field to begin with,” he explains.
When asked what he hopes to accomplish through his work as a counselor, Bryce shares, “I want to help students find their voice and be accepted. I want students to feel like they always have a place that is comfortable and where they can be themselves, whoever that may be or whatever that might look like with me. A major goal for me is to impact as many students as possible and help elevate their voices because everyone has a story to tell—and that story is important and valid.”
Katelyn Leboeuf M’22
Katelyn Leboeuf M’22 always had a desire to work in education, aspiring to help students achieve their goals. After earning her B.S. in Psychology from Salem State University in 2018, Katelyn worked in a variety of roles in education, including Special Education Paraprofessional and Behavioral Therapist. However, after a couple of years in the field, she decided that a career in teaching was not the best fit for her long-term and decided to shift her focus to school counseling.
A Merrimack Legacy Student — her grandfather graduated from Merrimack in the 1950s — Katelyn applied and was accepted to Merrimack’s Master of Education in School Counseling program. As part of her admittance, she was awarded a School Counseling Fellowship, which helps defray tuition costs and provides students with hands-on counseling experience through work placement in the local community. For her fellowship, Katelyn worked as a teaching assistant for an undergraduate human development course at Merrimack, helping students to become Youth Mental Health First Aid certified.
Katelyn is currently finishing her last semester of classes at Merrimack while completing her licensure fieldwork at a local high school. Overall, she found the experience to be extremely rewarding and helped to affirm her interest in working with high school students. She shares, “I’m very interested in the college and career planning process. I want to be that person who is there for students to say, ‘Hey, college isn’t for everybody. Here are some other opportunities for you to consider in addition to going to a traditional college.’ When I was in high school, there was a lot of pressure put on students to go that route. I want to let students know that there are other options out there for them, too.”
In addition to her academics and fieldwork, Katelyn is also heavily involved with the Massachusetts School Counselors Association (MASCA). She applied for and was selected as one of only three MASCA Graduate Student Liaisons who are charged with representing graduate students within the organization and helping to tailor programming and professional development opportunities to the specific needs of students. As part of her role, Katelyn recently helped put together a school counseling panel composed of counselors from various levels across the state. The panel answered questions submitted by counseling graduate students. She’s also helping to organize another school counseling panel this spring, this time focusing on professionals who are in their first year on the job.
MASCA also selected Katelyn to be featured on a recent episode of their podcast, MASCA Musings. During the episode, she was asked to share her perspective on life as a graduate student, the work she has done in the field and various ethical situations she’s encountered as a counseling professional.
When asked what type of impact she hopes to make through her work, Katelyn reflects, “I’m a little bit more reserved, more observant, but I think that makes me a really good listener. I want to be that support person for the quieter kids that don’t feel like they have somebody to talk to. I want to be a listening ear and help students move towards achieving their goals, whether that be college, career, or any other path they choose. I want to work with the staff, the teachers, parents and community members to make the community a better place for its high school students.”