Our MFT students and alumni are often recognized for their impressive work in education, research, and community.  

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COEHS Celebration of Students


Congratulations to Ethan Williams!


Ethan Williams, an MFT student from Newnan, Georgia, has been recognized as the Graduate Assistant of the Year for the academic year 2023-2024.

Possessing a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of West Georgia, Ethan is on the verge of completing his Master's in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is a member of the COEHS Web Team within the Dean's office where his contributions have significantly enhanced the visual appeal and functionality of our college's webpages.

Ethan's selection as the Graduate Assistant of the Year reflects his remarkable dedication and exceptional talent. He has consistently demonstrated reliability, delivering work of outstanding quality, taking initiative, maintaining a high level of professionalism, and infusing his work with a unique touch. These qualities, recognized by a committee through a rigorous nomination process, have rightfully earned him this prestigious accolade.


Congratulations to JaNiya Gibson and Nelson Graves!

(From left, Andre Morgan Jr., 2022 VSU MFT alumni, is joined by current students, JaNiya Gibson and Nelson Graves, at an MFP training event. Andre is also a recipient of the MFP for the doctoral fellowship and attends Saint Louis University's PhD program.)

JaNiya Gibson and Nelson Graves are the fellow recipients of the prestigious FAHS Minority Fellowship Program (MFP-Y), a grant through AAMFT's Research and Education Foundation dedicated to expanding the delivery of culturally competent mental health and substance abuse services, providing quality care to underserved minority populations, and supporting culturally competent Marriage and Family therapists. Fellowship recipients receive AAMFT training opportunities and enrichment experiences, professional development and mentorship experiences, a stipend, and travel support to MFP training events and the AAMFT annual conference.

Below, JaNiya and Nelson share highlights from their experiences as MFP fellows:

The experience as an MFP Fellow has been enlightening and rewarding! My favorite part of the MFP experience has been the Intensive Training Institute in San Diego, CA. The institute provided me with the opportunity to network with other fellows and learn from professionals in the field. Each speaker at the ITI presented on such thought provoking topics that I was reminded of the very reason I chose to study in the field of MFT!
- JaNiya Gibson
MFP has provided an amazing opportunity to network and hone my skills working with adolescents and individuals struggling with substance abuse, especially as it pertains to harm reduction. Maurice Byrd’s training on harm reduction was definitely one of my favorites. While we're often taught to be non-judgmental, harm reduction goes further by encouraging safe use when abstinence isn't necessarily realistic for the client. Definitely apply if you’re interested, and be prepared to take advantage of every opportunity available if accepted.
- Nelson Graves



danerys-crown-1.jpg danerys-crown-2.jpg

Danerys Crown is the recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Alumni for the Dewar College of Education and Human Services. She graduated in 2011 with her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Valdosta State University. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an AAMFT-approved supervisor with more than 12 years of clinical experience. Danerys is a culturally-sensitive, trauma-informed clinician and supervisor, with a decade of experience providing individual, couples, and group therapy for combat veterans and their families at the Lakeland Vet Center (2013-2017) and Lakeland Community Outpatient VA Clinic (2017-present). She is also the interim MFT Internship Director for Tampa VA. Danerys was born in Puerto Rico but left at the age of 3 due to her father joining the military. She has a passion for advocating for the mental health wellbeing of our service members, first responders, and their families. Danerys has been married for 13 years and is the proud mother of two children. She enjoys spending time with her family and watching documentaries and rom coms. She is also a runner at heart and has a talent for writing, singing and playing guitar.



Asia Mya Evans of Bronx, New York, is the recipient of the 2022 Clare Philips Martin Scholarship at VSU. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology in December of 2019. She anticipates graduating from the VSU MFT program in December 2023. The Clare Philips Martin Scholarship is awarded to a student with a minimum GPA of 3.5, who is active in both on- and off-campus activities and organizations and has earned a total of 60 academic credit hours or more. Congratulations Asia! 



Sara Reed

Sara Reed, 2016 VSU MFT Program graduate, is a Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Farmington, Connecticut, where she works to advance health equity and upward social mobility among boys and men of color through neutral strategies, such as art. As a socially-minded therapist, Sara continuously works to expand culturally sensitive practices within her work and within the literature of the mental health field. She is currently a sub-investigator and study coordinator for the MAPS MDMA Clinical Study of PTSD at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Sara’s clinical interests include exploring relational processes and emotional patterns in Black-Americans and identifying sociocultural variables for ethno-racial minority participants in the MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD clinical trials. She will be presenting and speaking about her research in San Francisco next month, November. Sara was recently offered an adjunct faculty position at Southern CT State University, where she will be teaching a diversity course for MFT students. Sara is also in the process of applying to doctoral programs for Fall 2019 admission. She hopes to combine medical anthropology and African American studies and create culturally informed therapeutic interventions outside of a white paradigm. We wish her the very best from the MFT Program at Valdosta State University!




Jihene Ayadi, a 2012 graduate of the VSU MFT program and currently, a doctoral candidate in counselor education and supervision, won the Outstanding Doctoral Student award at the European Branch of the American Counseling Association conference. The conference was held last week in Athens, Greece. Ayadi, a Fulbright scholar, is currently in Tunisia working with the Southern Mediterranean University to develop a Counseling and Academic Advising Center. At the conference, Ayadi and her adviser Kristin Higgins presented on the center's implementation. They are also working on an article about the project. The center Ayadi developed allows students to receive both advising and counseling in the same place. This is rare, as these functions typically occur in two separate entities on campus. Ayadi previously worked as a graduate assistant in the University of Arkansas Counseling and Psychological Services office. Her experiences there helped guide her research. Ayadi earned the Outstanding Doctoral Student award for the U of A counseling program in spring 2015. She now serves as a research graduate assistant in the program. Ayadi is on track to graduate in May 2019.

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COEHS Celebration of Students


This award is given to a MFT student who has demonstrated commitment to and excellence in learning, professional development, and clinical practice. 




Nolan King





Bianca Simmons




Becca Haas

outstanding mft student award 2022





Tommy Hampton




Brody Lathem






Kayla Waters




Ashley Lanier

Ashley Lanier COEHS Awards
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