Welcome Rafe McCullough
We are pleased to welcome Rafe McCullough, PhD, assistant professor of educational leadership in the school counseling program.
What prior experience do you bring to this new position?
Thanks to the incredible mentors who have helped me find my way, I have accrued a wide collection of experiences within the field of counseling since graduating from my master’s program. Most of my work has focused around children, adolescents, and young adults. I have served as a professional school counselor, and as a clinical mental health counselor in a variety of settings. My training has also allowed me the opportunity to supervise, teach, and support many wonderful master’s students in school counseling, clinical mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, and school psychology programs. Additionally, I have received a great foundation of training in analyzing and conducting both qualitative and quantitative research methods that I hope to continue to develop at Lewis & Clark.
How do you see yourself contributing to the work and mission of your department and the Graduate School as a whole?
I feel very fortunate to be a part of the Lewis & Clark community. As part of the Graduate School’s mission, of learning “through deep engagement with the self and the world”, valuing “diversity of voices and perspectives”, and promoting “open dialogue, inquiry, respect, and social action”, I believe my role is to promote justice and equity, and advocate for my students and those they will impact. I hope to help students transform not only their individual thinking, but also society and the field of counseling through their collective voices. I can contribute by helping our students to access the tools they need to succeed in the profession, but also equipping them with the analytical skills to challenge and change unjust systems that impede the life opportunities of the individuals and groups they serve. My research interests focus on advocacy, multicultural and social justice issues, LGBTQ and especially transgender concerns in education and counseling. To that end, I am interested in using my research to help improve life outcomes for underserved individuals and communities. I am dedicated to truly collaborative work for the department and Graduate School, where fellow faculty members and I work together towards shared common goals.
What drew you to the Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling (GSEC)?
When I came here for my interview, I felt warmly welcomed, and was impressed with how many individuals were involved in my process. I met faculty, staff, students, and community members. To me, this demonstrated a significant investment in the success of the graduate school. It also became clear that social justice was central to the goals of the graduate school. Students and faculty all addressed this importance. In one meeting, I was asked to elaborate on what I meant by social justice, and a wonderfully meaningful conversation ensued. As a counselor educator, it is important to me that students value the importance of action in social justice, not just discourse, and I feel these values were echoed by faculty at Lewis & Clark’s Graduate School of Education and Counseling.
What work and projects lie immediately ahead of you upon your arrival at GSEC?
As a new person to the graduate school, much of my foundational work will involve building relationships with students, faculty, staff, and community members that make up the Lewis & Clark community. My style is to spend time observing and to take everything in to see what great work is already taking place, and then decide how I can best be of service. As far as projects go, it has been a fast-moving fall semester. I recently submitted an article for publication on the counseling experiences of transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. I am finishing another qualitative research project with colleagues on the experiences of master’s students of color in counseling programs. In October, I will be presenting at a conference in New Orleans on data from this study. In September, I presented with colleagues at the Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling Conference in San Antonio, TX. The topic was on “Utilizing an Intersectionality Model to Promote Ally Development”.
How to you foresee this position challenging you professionally?
Like the relationship between theory and practice, my interest in teaching and research are similarly symbiotic: my research enlivens my teaching and my teaching brings meaning and purpose to my research. What professionally challenges me is finding better ways to operationalize the social justice discourse. It is often my concern that in the academic world, we become better at using language, but remain removed from the action piece of justice work. I must remain vigilant so that my teaching and research, aligned with current challenges faced by society, result in action, rather than stagnancy.
What do you find especially unique about the graduate school and/or what do you see as its greatest asset?
I believe that faculty and staff possess explicitly shared social justice values. They operate with dedication to current and future students, and the communities they will serve, by holding each other accountable to the daily work of justice. There has been ongoing discussion on actively developing a diverse community of graduate students, beginning with recruitment, including facilitating a culture to support and retaining individuals who identify as members of racial and ethnic minority groups.
A personal note…
The Pacific Northwest has been my home for 18 years, and though I completed my doctoral work in Atlanta, Georgia, I was delighted to return. I was drawn to The Pacific Northwest in the 90s, when I packed up my car and moved to Seattle from the Midwest, and it continues to draw me back. I love the way the fresh, pine-scented air always smells earthy like moss and dirt, and it provides the perfect backdrop for my favorite activities of hiking, swimming, exploring, and playing softball nearly all year round.