When Walden University PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision student Matt Glowiak attended the American Counseling Association (ACA) annual conference in Honolulu at the end of March, he didn’t see much of palm trees and beaches—and that was his choice.

Instead, he was actively involved in a variety of conference activities: serving as an ACA graduate student volunteer; working at the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors booth; attending leadership workshops; conducting a poster presentation; attending networking events; and receiving recognition as a leadership fellow from Chi Sigma Iota, the international academic and professional honor society for counseling.

A national professional conference is not where Glowiak would have predicted he’d be a few years ago. He was a logistics broker in the corporate freight and transportation industry for almost a decade. After some time of not being able to shake the persistent thought that he was not reaching people or making the type of difference in the world that he always knew was possible, he realized he needed to drastically revise the direction of his career. To follow what he believed was his life’s calling, Glowiak enrolled at Walden, and his life took a dramatic turn.

Glowiak, who earned his MS in Mental Health Counseling from Walden in 2010, is now an Illinois licensed professional counselor (LPC) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC) who has worked with addiction populations. He is currently serving opioid-dependent populations in Illinois. Among his 56-patient caseload are individuals with co-occurring disorders, such as major depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, adjustment disorder, ADHD, and borderline personality disorder. In addition, he has begun work as a private practice clinician with a goal of eventually opening clinics that serve children and adolescents.

“Before I came to Walden, if someone would have told me I’d also be this involved with a professional organization like ACA, I would have said that’s crazy,” Glowiak says. “However, as I began my studies, I began to realize the ideals of professional advocacy are built upon community service, which is done in part through contributions to various professional organizations and associations. That’s when I decided to become active in ACA and aspire to a leadership role in the organization.”

With the advice and mentorship of Dr. David Capuzzi, faculty member in the School of Counseling and former ACA president (1986–1987), Glowiak became more involved. “The field of professional counseling is relatively small, and many professionals come to know one another through conferences, workshops, publications, and so on. Establishing a good name is key in trying to sell oneself as someone who is competent, capable, and enthusiastic to get the job done,” Matt says.

“This is generally done by successfully completing the job on time and not continually offering excuses for shortcomings. If you make a commitment, stick to it,” Matt explains. “Perhaps even more important, though, is authenticity of self. A true passion for counseling and commitment to excellence seldom go unnoticed—even by those we might never suspect. It is something that motivates and inspires others. As agents of positive social change, the significance of this quality cannot be understated. It is not just what you do, but how you do it.”

Eleven faculty members from Walden’s School of Counseling presented their research and best practices at the ACA Conference.

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