I chose to apply for the President’s Award after interning at a college counseling center.  Though it was my first time working with this population, I quickly realized how much I loved engaging with students, particularly non-traditional students like myself.  I shifted my dissertation topic to focus on this population and thought the annual GCCA conference would be a perfect platform to test run my topic.  As a result of winning the award, I was not only welcomed in a very supportive environment that encouraged and promoted my research, but I instantly became colleagues with college counseling center directors and counselors across the state where I can exchange ideas and network.  GCCA provided the first step in showcasing and establishing my expertise in my subject area.  I am proud to be an ambassador for GCCA!

-Thommi Odom, 2015 President’s Grant Recipient, Mercer University Graduate Student


Previously, I had put off applying for the grant previously because I had too many other distracting things going on in my life.  I just was not ready.  When the summer of `11 rolled by, and there was a bit more of a calm, I decided to start filling out the application and preparing to apply.  I could never have known then that this random decision made on a summer’s afternoon would turn out to be one of the most gratifying professional decisions I’d ever made.  Finding out I’d been awarded the president’s grant was so exciting! It took a while to sink in, but once I found out all the opportunities it would provide me, I just remember feeling more and more fortunate…and boy did it deliver!  The conference was engaging.  From the first presentation I attended to my own first professional presentation, to my last moment at beautiful St. Simon’s Island, I remained tuned in and inspired.  Topics ranging from Ethics to Case Management to Polyamory got the gears turning and when I wasn’t knee deep in one of those, I was busy interacting with the many brilliant personalities.  The networking opportunities for a soon-to-be or recent graduate student are huge, and I wish there was more time to meet all the other conference attendees.  Perhaps I’ll make that my personal goal for next year’s conference!

-Adebayo Onabule, 2012 President’s Grant Recipient, University of West Georgia


I found out about the grant from a previous winner in the summer of 2011.  I decided to apply, and I am so glad I did!  I was thrilled when I found out I was named a President’s Grant winner.  I prepared my presentation on substance use among LGBT students, and I was excited to hear other presentations.  When I arrived at the hotel on Tuesday, I did not know anyone, and I was a little apprehensive.  However, I went to dinner with the council and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Everyone I met was friendly, and I am so glad I got to meet counselors and other graduate students.  I loved being able to attend the entire conference; I have presented at other conferences before, but I have never been able to stay for the whole time.  I was able to sit in on presentations such as Ethics, Animal Assisted Therapy (by a fellow President’s Grant winner), and LGBT inclusiveness on a college campus.  I received wonderful feedback regarding my presentation, and I have submitted a proposal to present at another conference combining my topic with previous research I have done.  I greatly appreciate the feedback, networking opportunities, and fun atmosphere during the GCCA Conference.

Jess Graner, 2012 President’s Grant Recipient, Mercer University


Last Summer I was given the opportunity to apply for the Georgia College Counseling Association (GCCA) president’s grant.  I knew full and well that the only credential I had to offer was my passion for pursuing a career as college counselor.  Although I lacked any clinical exposure as a first year graduate student, I decided to utilize my experience as a college athlete instead.  From there, my application flourished into a research proposal on the relationship between female college athletes and eating disorders.

Upon being awarded the president’s grant, I initially experienced some anxiety about the responsibilities that were laid before me.  I had presented research in the past, but never in front a group of tenured professionals who I secretly hoped would one day be my colleagues.  When I nervously arrived at the GCCA annual convention, pleasant personalities and engaging lecturers immediately put my mind at ease.  It was then that I realized I had been given much more than a research grant; I had the opportunity to learn from and network with some of the most astute members of our field.

-Becky Foster, 2011 President’s Grant Recipient, Mercer Graduate Student


Never have I felt so welcome with a group of people that I was meeting for the first time.  After flying down the highway after class from Atlanta to St. Simons’, I arrived at the conference a little bleary-eyed and definitely happy to collapse into a bed.  I saw Becky Foster, a fellow Presidents’ Grant recipient, as I was checking at the front desk, and we immediately introduced ourselves.  I am so glad to be here, was my primary thought, and the next few days were even better than I expected.  With such diverse programming ranging from everything to art therapy to disability counseling in the college setting, the range of people is just as diverse as presentation subject matter.   But there was something so familiar, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on but still knew—I think they call this feeling home. My experience at the GCCA conference has been one of the most nurturing of my young career, and I look forward to getting more involved and giving back to an organization that does so much for young college counselors.

– Elizabeth Miester, 2011 President’s Grant Recipient, Georgia State University Graduate Student


I have attended other professional conferences in the past and none where as fun and yet educational as the annual GCCA conference. I was fortunate to receive the President’s Grant which gave me the opportunity to attend the conference and meet professional college counselors. I can honestly say that everyone that I met was warm and welcoming. As a part of winning the President’s Grant I had the opportunity to do a presentation. Due to it being my first professional presentation I was a bit nervous, but the professionals that I came in contact with were very encouraging and helped me feel at ease.

I learned a great deal of practical and useful information about college counseling at the conference. I had memorable time at the conference and hope to attend many more in the future. I was also able to be a part of the GCCA council as a student representative. While as the student representative I was responsible for getting the word out about GCCA and the President’s Grant to Georgia students who are studying to become counselors. It felt rewarding to be a part of the organization. I enjoyed informing other students about GCCA and the friendly professional counselors that are part of the organization.

– Tracy Hall,  2010 President’s Grant Recipient, Mercer Graduate Student