Student Community

group photo of CMHC program participantsWe walk this path together!

The Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is typically a 2 to 3 year program. During this time of commitment to personal and professional growth, our students often remark on the sense of 'community' they develop with one another. Admission to the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program is quite competitive, and we believe our students are a significant aspect of our success as a professional counselor preparation program.

Here, you will find profiles of featured students selected to demonstrate the variety of interests and backgrounds within our student community. 

Featured Students


Becky Shaffer, CMHC studentBecky Shaffer, B.S.

Entry Year: 2019

Academic Tracks: Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy and a certificate in Addictions Counseling

Prior Education: Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science at Appalachian State University, minor in Psychology

Why I Chose App: Since I completed my undergraduate degree here at App State, this is my fifth year in Boone. There is something special about the community here at Appalachian; everyone is so kind and supportive. When researching the CMHC program here during undergrad and later meeting faculty, staff, and current students - I was sold. The professors have a genuine passion for their students to succeed and take immense pride in their work. Along with staff, the cohort model was a huge plus for me. The support that comes with learning within a close-knit group of students was something I knew I would need to succeed in graduate school. 

Counseling Interests: I am interested in working in marriage and family therapy while specifically helping survivors of intimate partner violence and other trauma within the home. Addiction plays a huge role in a lot of household issues so I am passionate about helping those who are struggling with substance abuse as well. 

Amber Ellington, B.A.

Amber, CMHC student

Entry Year: 2020 

Academic Tracks: Clinical Mental Health Counseling with concentrations in Addictions Counseling and Marriage and Family Counseling

Prior Education: B.A. in Psychology from North Carolina State University

Why I Chose App: I chose App because I knew that the graduates of this program were prepared to go out into the counseling world. I felt at home in this beautiful mountain town and I knew that I would have an amazing sense of community while completing my degree. The faculty in this program are incredibly welcoming and intelligent. I knew that I would be learning from some of the best sources of mentorship that the counseling world has to offer. I loved that this program had a cohort model. It really helps to have like-minded people around you who are working towards similar goals!

Counseling Interests: I am interested in working with college students upon completion of this program and beyond. College students are at such a transitional age. I believe that it can be viewed as a critical period of identity, purpose, and decision-making. I hope to be part of this period and help college-aged individuals feel heard, feel valued, and feel connected while furthering their education.


Emma Robinson, CMHC student

Emmalene Robinson, B.S.

Entry Year: 2019

Academic Tracks: Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a concentration in Body Centered Therapy and a certificate in Systemic Multicultural Counseling

Prior Education: Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Disabilities in Society from the University of Florida

Why I Chose App: As an out-of-state student from Florida, I sought a campus and a program that differed greatly from my undergraduate university, both in terms of location and type of learning experience. Boone offers beautiful mountains, opportunities to hike, the changing seasons, and amazing terrain - coupled with the distinguished faculty, warm and welcoming current students, and the relationships I formed with other group interviewees, I knew this CMHC program was the one for me. I greatly enjoy the cohort model, the experiential learning, and the CACREP-accreditation that will ensure I leave with the strong foundational skills in building a therapeutic relationship that encourages growth and development. 

Counseling Interests: I hope to create an environment that fosters wellness, cultivates growth, and encourages whole-hearted living for my clients. I am interested in working with minority populations by incorporating the values of social justice and multicultural competency, as well as utilizing approaches such as mindfulness, body awareness, and person-centered counseling. 


Alec Rothschild, B.S.Alec Rothschild, CMHC student

Entry Year: 2020

Academic Tracks: Clinical Mental Health Counseling, concentration TBD

Prior Education: Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Studies and Religious Studies from Vanderbilt University 

Why I Chose App: I moved to North Carolina in 2019 to pursue wilderness therapy, and was immediately captivated by the scenery and culture of the mountains. It was clear that North Carolina was somewhere I could put down roots. During my time working in wilderness therapy I kept hearing wonderful anecdotes about Appalachian State, and upon visiting, knew it was the place for me. The faculty are impressively experienced and diverse, but most importantly, kind and welcoming! I'm excited to learn and grow here to become the best counselor I can be. 

Counseling Interests: I am interested in working with adolescents and at-risk populations. I'm still navigating the diverse field of counseling to learn what modalities suit my interests and counseling style. However, I firmly believe in the powerful transformations I have seen the wilderness foster, and want to explore this field deeper. I've also experienced profound personal benefits from mindfulness and meditation, and want to learn how I can help others heal in this respect.