Edgeston named director of counseling programs
By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau
Dr. Anna Edgeston hasn’t forgotten the inspiration for her career.
Growing up in Kenya, she watched her missionary parents spread the Gospel but soon realized they also were helping the population deal with daily mental health struggles or marital problems.
“I was surrounded by it. So once I got into college, I found a degree that was most consistent with that,” said Edgeston, who moved to the United States at age 18. “I enjoyed the mental health aspect of helping people and providing a service that was really needed, not only here in the U.S. but in Kenya and across the world.”
She found helping one person make a change in their life could positively impact a family for generations.
“And on a bigger level, teaching became an important goal for me because I could train more individuals to reach more people,” Edgeston said. “Having that impact on students, knowing they are going out and making that difference, making a bigger splash in our society, within that there is satisfaction.”
Her passion and hard work were rewarded after 18 months at Grand Canyon University. She recently was promoted to Program Director of Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling.
She was behind many of the changes in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ counseling programs, which have grown in the number of students and full-time faculty, and has inspired cohesion between online and ground faculty, said Dr. Noe´ Vargas, CHSS Assistant Dean.
“She’s a great mentor to faculty; it’s a blessing she came to us,” he said.
At meetings, Edgeston asks for a “good news report” when faculty share highlights of their personal or professional life.
“One of the important things for counseling educators is self-care,” said Dr. Tanisha Guy, Online Full Time Faculty for CHSS. “We are not just teaching but engaged in clinical work, so she reminds us how important that is – and that’s important for a director.”
Edgeston came to GCU from Argosy University, where she was a program chair and assistant professor and helped lead accreditation efforts there.
Her new position will include more involvement in leadership within the college and establishing goals for the counseling programs, such as being more “mission-minded on a global perspective,” Edgeston said.
“We want to really position our students to be global counselors and do what they can within and outside the classroom to prepare them,” she said.
Edgeston already has launched webinars on social justice and advocacy and global counseling. She also is leading efforts to help students develop portfolios from their very first classes to establish evidence for their resumes by the time they graduate.
“Within that is nudging them to get involved in their communities with advocacy and volunteer work and helping them get attached to professional organizations in order to create connections,” she said. “That goes along with GCU’s goals.”
It’s an important time in the counseling field. The need for mental health care has become more pronounced than ever before because of the effects of COVID-19 — isolation, job loss or grief over the death of loved ones, Edgeston said.
“There are a lot of counselors, but when you look across the country and the number of people who need help the last few months has created a call for more mental health providers,” she said.
Many in the field have had to shift to remote counseling sessions.
“That is why GCU is so important. We are already situated to meet the needs of an online environment. We are already preparing our students in that direction, and this makes it even more clear that the counselors we are training now not only fill the need for more counselors but also that they have the ability to reach more individuals using technology.”
The technology also opens the door to helping reach more people across the world, which excites Edgeston.
“When you are doing something that is connected to your calling and the path that God has laid out for you, there is a natural satisfaction in life that comes from that,” she said. “I think I am reminded every day that I am where I need to be.”
Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.
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