Dr. Richard Watts, Professor and Director of the Center for Research and Doctoral Studies in Counselor Education at SHSU, thought the crisp white envelope was his regular junk mail, so it was not until the next day when the seal on the envelope containing a National Honor from the American Counseling Association Foundation, was finally broken.
The letter began: “It is a pleasure to inform you that you have been selected to receive the David K. Brooks, Jr. Distinguished Mentor Award from the American Counseling Association. The Awards ceremony will be held at the ACA conference in Charlotte, in the Westin Charlotte Hotel, on Sunday, Mar. 22 at 7:00 p.m.”
The ACA gives numerous awards, but the American Counseling Association Foundation, only gives two awards a year. The American Counseling Association Conference is a professional development conference for counselors, counselor educators, and people in the counseling profession.
This specific award is defined as “a national honor given to a person who has helped strengthen the counseling profession by serving as a role model and mentor to others in the profession.”
“He came in and showed us the letter because he was pretty proud of it. When you can get an award from the ACA, it’s a pretty big honor,” Dee Dee Dirk, Doctoral Secretary in Education Leadership and Counseling Program said. “He has won several awards, he doesn’t even have enough wall space he’s a good writer- he’s a good person.”
Watts was nominated for the National Award by Dr. Selma Yznaga, Associate Professor of Counseling at the University of Texas at Brownsville.
“She nominated me because I’ve served as a mentor for her in the areas of professional publication and service to the counseling profession,” Watts said.
Nominations and support material are reviewed and selected by the ACA Foundation Selection Committee.
“One of the members of the Committee making that decision is David Brooks’ widow. They look at the nominations and support material they pick a person they think would best represent what David Brooks was about as a role model and mentor,” Watts said.
Two former students, now in their fourth year as professors also wrote in their nomination for Watts, as they remembered his help as they went through the doctoral program at Baylor University together.
“Dr. Watts served as our guide and mentor throughout the dissertation process.He very gently taught us about excellence and what it meant to be a counselor and counselor educator,” Dr. Jennifer Nivin Williamson and Dr. Daniel G. Williamson of theSchool of Professional Counseling?Lindsey Wilson Collegewrote in their nomination letter.”Because of him, many students throughout Appalachia, where we currently teach, are receiving very similar experiences. We call it the Wattsonian model.”
Dr. Yvonne Garza of the Educational Leadership and Counseling Center for Research and Counselor Education included a list of accomplishments in her nomination letter to the ACA foundation and described the guidance Watts has provided to so many.
“His extensive experience has been a gift to students and colleagues and is reflected in their successes,” She wrote. “He has mentored doctoral students who have gone on to become respected faculty, presented national and international conferences, and served on national committees. He has a natural ability to inspire.”
Watts said, “It is very rewarding to invest your life in other people, whether you get recognized or not, but it is particularly rewarding when the people you try to do your best work for recognize you as someone who has been a role model and mentor.”