Alumni News

Amy Farris (M.Ed. ’09) named 2009 outstanding graduate of School Counseling program

Photo of Amy Farris

Amy Farris

Amy Farris has received the 2009 W.D. Perry Award, recognizing her as the most outstanding student graduating from the School Counseling M.Ed. program this year. The award was presented at a year-end gathering in Peabody Hall, May 28, 2009.

“Amy is incredibly passionate about working with students,” wrote a fellow student, who nominated her for the award. “She has a positive attitude about everything and helps bring optimism to the entire cohort. She is a very humble person, which makes all her accomplishments seem even more worthy because she always puts others first. … She is a leader at her site and within the cohort.”

As a counseling intern at C.E. Jordan High School in Durham this year, Farris implemented and evaluated a Freshman Mentoring Program and facilitated small groups to promote academic achievement, minority identity development and successful high school transitions. She also delivered college admissions planning information to 450 students at Jordan High School and provided individual counseling to many of the high school students, including academic, personal and career counseling.

When Farris’s supervisor needed to be absent from school for three months, Farris stepped up to serve as the 11th- and 12th-grade counselor at Jordan High School.   

A special focus of her work at Jordan this year was promoting services for minority students, in collaboration with the English as a Second Language coordinator.

“Amy has been an amazing advocate for the Latino population at Jordan,” her nominator wrote. “She always puts her students as Number One. She wants the best for her students, and her passion pushes me—and I would imagine others—to try to be just as passionate.” 

Before coming to UNC, Farris received a 2007 Fulbright Research Grant to study child begging in Senegal, in western Africa. The previous year, she was named an Islamic Civilization Fellow by the U.S. Department of State, receiving a grant to study talibés (street children) in Senegal.  

She completed her undergraduate degree in 2006 at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., where she was named 2006 Volunteer of the Year for her extensive involvement in the school and the local community.

“We often have incredibly passionate students who are engaged in various social justice activities, but Amy would be an exemplar of that group,” said Patrick Akos, associate professor and coordinator of the School Counseling program. “When she asked me about missing class due to travel from a mission trip to Africa (during her spring break) – it demonstrated her inclination toward service and how caring she is about the people in her daily experience. It is her humble and unassuming disposition that reinforced the need to acknowledge how remarkable she really is.”

The Perry Award is named for William D. Perry, a former professor in the School of Education who served on the faculty for more than 30 years and exerted a major influence in the development of both the Counseling program and the Guidance and Testing Center. Students are nominated by peers, faculty and public school personnel. The faculty selects a recipient based on academic achievement, outstanding performance in the counseling field placement, unwavering adherence to ethical and professional standards, and leadership within the program.