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Rebecca Taplin is the 2014 student commencement speaker

April 05, 2014

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As an instructor in the Professional Mental Health Counseling program, Karen Hixon loves to encourage her students to become involved in the counseling community. Each year, she invites students to consider making presentations at the annual Oregon Counselors Association meeting.

Last year, Rebecca Taplin, M.A. ’14, took her up on the offer. It’s the kind of proactive, engaged approach to her education that Hixson says characterizes Taplin, who has been named the 2014 graduate school student commencement speaker.

“She is so dedicated, self-reflective, and passionate about supporting clients. That’s all you could ever want in a student” says Hixson. Taplin and Hixson co-created a project together over a period of months for the annual conference, titled, “Sex, Shame, Authorship and Advocacy,” which focused on how mental health care providers can assist clients struggling with shame as a result of sexual experiences. “It was a great experience because I could support Rebecca in her professional development but also grow in my process.”
Taplin points to the experience as one highlight of her three years as a graduate student at Lewis & Clark. She also credits the Professional Mental Health Counseling program with “allowing me to learn about who I am as a counselor, not just the ins and outs of the counseling itself.” Through her training, which ranged from working with clients at the Lewis & Clark Counseling Center to an internship at the William Temple House, Taplin says, “I’ve come to understand how necessary adequate care and compassionate treatment are. Quality mental health care depends upon valuing and working with the lived context of people’s experiences.”

Taplin received her undergraduate degree from The Evergreen State College, where she studied visual arts, philosophy, writing, and teaching. She served as the editor of the literary arts journal and was the Assistant to the Director of the Writing Center. “Evergreen showed me the value of interdisciplinarity within any distinct area of work or study,” she says, “a value that I carry into my counseling practice and career.” 

Before enrolling at Lewis & Clark, Taplin answered calls at a local mental health crisis hotline, tutored writing, lead writing workshops, and taught printmaking classes. She grew up in Denver and moved to the Pacific Northwest 8 years ago. Her father was a psychologist and her mother was a teacher. “I am very grateful to have been naturally given a lot of values at a young age that aligned with the mental health and education fields,” she says.

After graduation, Taplin hopes to continue working with clients on an individual and group basis while while pursuing avenues to address larger social and systemic change.

I am so grateful for my time in grad school,” says Taplin. “I’ve had such amazing opportunities, met truly inspiring people, and learned an enormous amount.”
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