Shanita S. Brown ‘11MED, ‘16PHD
Counseling and Counselor Education
Director of Counseling Services
Virginia Union University
Having attended NC State for her undergraduate degree in sociology, Shanita S. Brown ‘11MED, ‘16PHD was knowledgeable of the resources available to students at NC State. But it was the reputation of the counseling and counselor education program that drew her to continue her education in the NC State College of Education. Brown had heard great things about the faculty and their contributions to the counseling profession. And it was an ideal location for her to grow as a professional and transformative leader.
Now, Brown serves as the Director of Counseling at Virginia Union University. As the chief mental health officer for the university, she oversees the clinical and administrative aspects of culturally competent preventative services to help students achieve academic success. She also occasionally works as a teaching assistant professor at East Carolina University, where she teaches master’s-level courses in the counselor education program.
Brown’s primary research focus is intimate partner violence. She recently published an article in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling titled “The Intersection of HIV and Intimate Partner Violence: An Application of Relational Cultural Theory with Black and Latina Women.”
“Not only did my master’s program provide me the education and skills to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, but also a culturally competent servant leader. I was challenged to go beyond the notion of helping diverse populations improve their emotional well-being to collaborating with various disciplines to effectively lead, serve and advocate for my clients and community. My doctoral program was an extension of my clinical and research training. It broadened my multiculturalism, social justice lens and critical thinking. The combination of both programs have provided me a rich foundation to lead, serve, consult, assess and collaborate.
I took an elective course, titled Critical Race Theory (CRT) Research Methods in Education in my doctoral program that really challenged me as an individual and counselor. The class discussions were very rich with a variety of emotions. At times, I left class frustrated with the realization of systemic racism, but also hopeful. I was hopeful because I now had a cultural theoretical framework for my dissertation. Theory informs research, and not all current research methods and methodologies are culturally relevant. So, CRT provided a solid cultural framework to guide my research methods to examine the lived domestic violence experiences of Black women. CRT has changed how I view the world, counseling frameworks and mental health systems. You cannot research or discuss the experiences of Black, Indigenous and people of color without acknowledging systemic and institutionalized racism; it is engrained in society.”