Curious about what it is like to be a student in the Counseling Psychology Program?

Brown, ArielleArielle Brown

I am a native of Louisiana, who studied psychology and African & African American Studies as an undergraduate at Louisiana State University.

I am advised by Dr. Helen Neville and my research interests include stereotype threat among Black women, Black racial identity attitudes and academic achievement, and well-being among Black women.

Currently, I am the graduate assistant for Sankofa Black Student Outreach at the Counseling Center and I am a teaching assistant for EPSY 220: Career Theory and Practice. In my first two years of graduate school, I served as a teaching assistant for EPSY 202: Exploring Cultural Diversity. I have practiced therapy at the Counseling Center and administered neuropsychological and psychodiagnostic assessments at the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) on campus and at a private practice in the community. I currently conduct individual therapy at DRES.

In my spare time, I enjoy practicing and learning about my spirituality. I also enjoy chatting on FaceTime, cooking, dining, and working out. Email:

Dawn Brown headshotDawn Brown

I entered the Counseling Psychology program in the Fall of 2014. I moved to Champaign from Chicago, and grew up in the south suburbs. I earned my B.A in Psychology from the University of Miami, and went on to earn my M.S. in Psychology from DePaul University. Prior to coming to UIUC I was working as a Research Assistant at Northwestern University with the IMPACT Program. At IMPACT worked on an interactive online HIV prevention study for young men who have sex with men called Keep It Up!

In the Counseling Psychology program I am working with Dr. Anita Hund. My research interests include gender expression among queer women, and the relationship between gender expression and minority stress.

In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and friends, and my two (miniature dachshund) kids Woodie and Rufus.

Mai HoangMai Hoang

Before I joined the Counseling Psychology program in the fall of 2014, I worked as a Research Administrator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for five years. During this time, I had an opportunity to teach entrepreneurship as a volunteer at Casa Isla, a short-term revocation center for high-risk youth in Quincy, Massachusetts. This experience was one of the key events that inspired me to pursue a Ph.D. in counseling psychology.

Broadly speaking, my research interests include exploring diversity education and treatment approaches that foster critical consciousness, as well as examining how people’s beliefs and biases are related to outcomes, including cognitive engagement level, empathy, social behaviors or wellbeing. Currently, I work under the guidance of Dr. Helen Neville and am involved with several different research projects. 

In my free time, I enjoy swimming and taking long walks. I also like cooking and throwing dinner parties, reading and traveling. Email:

Matthew KingMatthew King

After graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. in Psychology, I joined the Counseling Psychology program and began working on projects related to my research interests: bullying and students with disabilities, intersectionality, and contextual risk and protective factors for mental health outcomes. I am working with Dr. Kristen Bub, while completing my dissertation; I am currently researching how parents and friends influence academic and mental health outcomes for LGBQ students across their development.

I am grateful for the number of broad, diverse, and multiculturally-focused experiences offered by the Counseling Psychology program not only in research and teaching, but also as a developing clinician. I have enjoyed practicum experiences at the UIUC Counseling Center, DRES, the VA Illiana Health Care System, and Illinois State University Student Counseling Services. Additionally, the program has offered a number of connections to professional organizations, some of which I have held leadership positions, including the Champaign Area Psychological Society, the American Educational Research Association, and the American Psychological Association. Finally, I am enjoying my predoctoral internship at the UIUC Counseling Center.

I am also an avid runner, love playing sports, and enjoy attending live music events. Email: 

Amir Maghsoodi PictureAmir Maghsoodi

I am a card-carrying physicist, with a B.S. in physics from the University of Michigan. Two years into an Applied Physics Ph.D. program at Northwestern University, I recognized my deep-rooted desire to choose a career centered on the human experience and aimed at supporting the positive development of individuals across life transitions. For me, psychology (specifically, Counseling Psychology) is that career path! Before joining the Counseling Psychology program at Illinois in Fall 2018, I spent a year working with Professor Dan McAdams in the Foley Center for the Study of Lives at Northwestern University. Together with a wonderful collaborator, Janina Buehler, we studied how members of romantic committed couples construct narratives about their relationship and what those narratives predict about their relationship functioning and well-being. 

At Illinois, I work with Professor Chris Napolitano to study the development of goal-setting behaviors and identity in adolescence and early adulthood. I also work as a graduate assistant at the Counseling Center, where I am part of the Integrative Health and Wellness outreach team. As part of this assistantship, I supervise two undergraduate paraprofessionals as they develop and disseminate psychoeducational programming on campus. 

I have a loving partner, Chloe, who lives in Chicago. Our dog, Devlin (a wonderful Whippet), lives with me and enjoys sniffing out all the squirrels in Urbana! When not on campus, you might find me at the farmers’ market, studying at Caffe Paradiso, reading biographies of notable historical figures, or playing my guitar. Email: Website: 

Murdock, ChrisChris Murdock

I serve as the Graduate Assistant Counselor at UIUC's Faculty/Staff Assistance Program. I have research experience in the cognitive-neuroscience of depression, outcome evaluation, and various aspects of vocational psychology and have published chapters on the role of work values in vocational rehabilitation and the person-environment fit approach to vocational counseling. I am broadly interested in psychotherapy evaluation; gender-role stress, masculinity, and the development of feminism and gender-consciousness in men; and disseminating evidence-based vocational guidance to under-served populations (current and former prisoners, veterans, student-athletes, etc.). I am an instructor and course-coordinator for an undergraduate career- and life-planning course, a consultant and trainer on the UIUC LGBT Ally Network Training Committee, and the facilitator of two support groups for LGBT-identified and questioning undergraduate and graduate students. I have 8 years of counseling experience that includes training in behavior therapy with developmentally disabled children, neuropsychological assessment and family therapy at a university training clinic, individual therapy at a university student health center, individual and couples therapy in an EAP setting, and individual and group therapy in the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders Clinic at the Illiana VA Medical Center in Danville, IL. Email:

NimotOgunfemiNimot M. Ogunfemi

After completing my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015, I worked in Chicago and its surrounding neighborhoods as a volunteer and employee of several community centered organizations. I returned to UIUC in the fall of 2017 to join the College of Education’s Counseling Psychology program. As an undergrad, I completed a distinction thesis examining the relationship between stereotypes and comradery amongst black college aged women.

Early exposure to the fine arts cultivated my interest in psychological processes. My current research interests rest at intersection of race and mental health, specifically the effect of cultural stimuli, like religion and art, on racial identity, success and resilience. I aim to work towards the continuation of introducing cultural frameworks to psychological intervention and promoting self-efficacy and mental health awareness in communities of color. I am currently working under the guidance of Dr. Helen Neville, namely on the #PowerUp Project on civic engagement and participatory action in youth of color.

In my spare time, I enjoy visiting museums, participating in and talking about creative processes, and reading. Email:

NurAygül Nurbanu Parpucu

I graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Genetics and minors in Russian, Leadership Studies, and Psychology. Throughout my studies at ISU, I was involved in various leadership and mentoring opportunities, as well as a research lab in genetics where I worked with rats! I discovered a passion for the social sciences and racial issues via mentoring students of color and decided to join the Counseling Psychology Program at UIUC and entered in the Fall of 2017.

Here I work with Dr. Helen Neville and my research interests include racial invisibility syndrome and how it affects the well-being of people of color; and motivated reasoning and the decisions people make in lieu of countering facts.

I enjoyed living in Iowa and enjoy living in Illinois as well because of the snow (I got married in winter because I love snow so much). My newfound hobby is snowboarding and in my free time I like to listen to Russian music and spend time with our two cats: Thor and Neva.

Perlus, JessamynJessamyn Perlus

I entered the Counseling Psychology program in 2014. I work with Dr. James Rounds to examine the role of interests in career choice. In 2016 I earned my M.S. in Educational Psychology with a project specifically looking at homogeneity of interests within a wide range of occupations. My dissertation project explores the impostor phenomenon and how it may impact career achievement, particularly for high achieving women. My research and clinical interests are focused on vocational psychology and helping individuals explore career options and facilitating career decision-making. I also serve as a Graduate Research Assistant at The Career Center and often teach Career Theory and Practice.

I grew up in Ithaca, NY and earned my B.A. in Psychology and in Spanish from the State University of New York at Geneseo. My previous research experiences were in the field of developmental psychology and spanned infant language acquisition to teenage relational aggression. After graduation I worked as a research fellow for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development studying adolescent health behaviors.

In my spare time I enjoy traveling, cooking, and hanging out with my cat. Email:

Katie RhoadesKatie Rhoades

Before coming to the Counseling Psychology program in Fall 2018, I completed a B.A. in Psychology, a B.A. in Neuroscience, and minor in Business Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado in Boulder. In my undergraduate time, I worked as a peer educator at the university’s counseling center, a peer mentor for students on academic probation, and completed an honors thesis on my independent research examining dopamine polymorphisms and their relationship to risky sexual behavior. After graduating, I worked as a medical assistant where I developed my love for health and working one-on-one with patients.

At Illinois, I am working with Dr. Anita Hund where I research trauma after sexual assault and the effective techniques of sex therapy. I am passionate about empowering young women, working with survivors of sexual assault, establishing inclusive and comprehensive sex education, as well as increasing research, knowledge, and the practice of sex therapy. In the future, I hope to work with both individuals and couples as a sex therapist, teach courses in human sexuality, and train future clinicians. It is important to me that my work focuses on empowerment, social justice, and positive psychology.

In my free time I love rock climbing, yoga, adding to my indie music collection, going to art museums, watching documentaries, and reading fashion blogs. Email:

Briana Williams PictureBriana Williams

I am a first year graduate student in the Counseling Psychology Program. I recently graduated from a small historically black college, Claflin University, in South Carolina. I am advised by Dr. Anita Hund. Broadly speaking, my research interests include the social needs and experiences of sexual minorities of color. I aspire to utilize my research to adequately inform and improve counseling and supportive contexts for sexual minority adolescents and young adults.

I work as a graduate assistant for the Counseling Center Paraprofessional program, a peer education program that provides undergraduate students opportunities to develop professional skills and facilitation abilities. Also, I work as a Teaching Assistant for EPSY 202: Exploring Cultural Diversity, a course dedicated to providing social justice education.

In my spare time, the little that I do have, I enjoy writing poetry, binge watching Netflix shows, browsing my twitter feed, and shopping. Email:

Ted WormTed Worm

I am originally from the Washington, DC area where I studied Psychology and History at Georgetown University. After earning my degree, I worked at the American Psychological Association on the PsycINFO databases. I went on to earn my Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University, and serve as a research assistant in the Georgetown University Culture and Emotions Lab. At the lab we compared models of emotions (happiness, sadness, pity) across cultural settings. My current research interests focus on building interventions that help improve adult cognition and optimize development, and investigating cross-cultural differences in adult cognition and well-being. I am working with Dr. Stine-Morrow to investigate the Flow experience in older adults. Email:

Xu, Shengmei ChristinaShengmei “Christina” Xu

I entered the Counseling Psychology program in 2013 after graduating in psychology from Tsinghua University, China. As an undergraduate student, I joined the Tsinghua Counseling Psychology lab and worked with Professor Fumin Fan. I worked as an observer and research assistant with several projects focusing on therapeutic factors of group therapy for university students; for example, a mindfulness group therapy for students with high sense of loneliness.

Cultural psychology has always been my topic of interest ever since my freshmen year. I read some cool cross-cultural studies comparing Asians and Americans behavior, cognition, thinking, emotions, morals, values and beliefs. It seems fun to observe and explore the possible differences between diverse cultural groups. That’s where my undergraduate thesis topic derives from. For this thesis, I studied the relationship between self-criticism, depression, implicit and explicit self-esteem in Chinese university students. I also compared my work with results of Westerners to see if there are some cultural differences in the way self-criticism moderates the relationship between self-esteem and depression. My future research interests will focus on international students’ development of racial attitudes and empathy for different racial groups.

I enjoy playing tennis, swimming, and running for fun. As an international student, I really enjoy the cultural diversity here in the counseling program at Illinois. Everybody is so enthusiastic to communicate and help! We have brilliant professors and outstanding graduate students here and I am learning a lot every day! Email:

Jisoo YounJisoo Youn

I graduated from Seoul National University with a B.A. in Education and Child & Family Studies and an M.A. in Counseling. While there, I had an opportunity to join many research projects about children, teenagers, and their career development. This experience led me to find how much I love this topic, and motivated me to pursue my doctoral degree.

Currently, I am working with Dr. James Rounds and Dr. Chris Napolitano. My recent research questions include how relational factors like parent-child relationships can affect career development. My goal is to grow as a professional practitioner who empowers teenagers based on theory and research, as well as to study their career issues.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading detective novels, doing yoga and spending time with my friends. Going grocery shopping became my new favorite hobby after I came to Champaign-Urbana! Email: