Award Recipient Presenters

The following students have been accepted to present at the Massachusetts School Counselors Association (MASCA) annual spring conference being held on April 3rd and 4th in Boxborough, MA. This is a state level conference with a competitive call for proposals. Learn more at

Kaitlin McArdle 
Years in Program: First year
Title: Disenfranchised Grief in Adolescence 

Abstract: When grief is unrecognized by the bereaved, social groups or society, that grief can become disenfranchised. Experiencing a significant unrecognized loss is associated with academic difficulties for many students’, and may interfere with developmental and social tasks. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to abnormal grief responses (Mash, Fullerton, Shear, & Ursano, 2014). School counselors can play a crucial role in validating the losses of developing adolescents, which can minimize the occurrence of disenfranchised grief. Through intentional interventions, school counselors can be cognizant of the range of different death and non-death losses that students’ experience.

Taylor Marek
Years in Program: First year
Title: Grit: The Key to Success

Abstract: This poster will focus on the construct of “grit” as it applies to the success of students in the school environment. Duckworth (2016) defined this construct as the power of passion and perseverance related to students’ success in the classroom. This research can inform school counselors’ work by highlighting the connection between learning and motivation, in contrast to what has been typically emphasized in the past: the connection between learning and IQ. In illustrating this connection, this research will demonstrate that the ability to learn is not fixed but can change with effort.

Kat Rafuse
Years in Program: First year
Title: Where Do I Belong? The Struggle for Identity in the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity

Abstract: The mission of the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) is to provide students with educational opportunities designed to enrich their academic, personal and interpersonal experiences (METCO incorporated, 2016). Students are able to learn together in an integrated public school setting. However, there is still a significant divide among resident students and METCO students (Antoine, 2013). The METCO students are displaced from their comfort zones and bussed to suburban schools where they struggle to identify with either environment (Antoine, 2013). This poster will showcase ways in which counselors and school staff may assist this population in their disconnected identities. 

Nicole Papazian
Years in Program: First year
Title: Strategies to Engage in Self Reflection when Working with Multicultural Youth

Abstract: In order to successfully and competently support all students, school counselors must engage in the process of self-reflection. Counselors will intentionally reflect on and work to understand one’s own biases to work towards personal accountability, thus allowing for growth and open communication with students and peers. Counselors must create and engage in a personal practice of genuine and continuous self-reflection to recognize the ways in which one may be privileged by one’s own identity or culture. By better understanding this dynamic, counselors can more empathetically work with students of multicultural backgrounds in ways that validate, uplift, and empower.