Today@Sam Article

Commencement Spotlight: Adrian Lira

May 14, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

“Commencement Spotlight” is a series focused on highlighting SHSU graduates who have made remarkable strides in their lives to reach commencement day. These stories from Bearkats graduating this month, who have demonstrated a “can-do” spirit through challenges and service, remind us of the many ways Sam Houston State University is preparing students for meaningful lives of achievement. Visit today@sam/commencementspotlight to find the list of stories highlighted so far.

Adrian Lira SHSU 3Adrian Lira
El Paso, TX
Degree: PhD in Counselor Education

“I was very impressed by the representation and diversity of the faculty in the Counselor Education program. This was instrumental in my decision to apply and attend the graduate program. It was the first time that I was taught and, ultimately, mentored by professors who shared my ethnic and cultural background, and who understood the intricacies of being bilingual and providing services in languages other than English.

Describe your current profession.
AL: I work with Family Houston, a non-profit agency that has served the Greater Houston area for over 116 years through case management, financial stability, and counseling services. As the Clinical Director, I supervise a team of 21 mental health therapists who provide services via telehealth and in-person, as well as provide counseling services to students at 15 area elementary, middle, and high schools.

What challenges did you face to complete your college degree?
AL: The COVID-19 pandemic required that I help my agency transition from in-person to telehealth services. It was challenging to provide support to the team of clinicians that I supervise while ensuring that agency and client needs were all met.

I also experienced challenges with my dissertation. I had to adjust my intended study because of COVID safety measures. This required a shift in the literature review, as well as the data collection process. Ultimately, the change allowed me to address the challenges and experience of mental health professionals. The change in focus, I believe, primed me to reach my long-term career goals.

SHSU4How did you manage a full-time job while completing your PhD?
AL: I completed most of my coursework at SHSU’s The Woodlands Center. Having the option to take courses there made this degree feasible because I live south of Houston. It also provided me the option to continue to work full-time because courses were held in the evening. I had a few courses at the main campus in Huntsville throughout my doctoral program.

What future career goals do you have?
AL: I plan to continue my current position at Family Houston and pursue teaching opportunities at the university level. My goal is to help bridge community mental health and academia. That is, I would like to incorporate didactic and experiential training practices at the community level to address the mental health services for individuals in the community.

What will you miss most about your time as an SHSU student?
AL: I will miss the camaraderie felt with fellow students, as well as the mentorship and guidance of professors. I hope to continue to collaborate with my professors.  

See more Commencement Spotlight features. 

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