The graduate counseling and psychology programs at Millersville University have produced excellent practitioners over the years. This year, two graduates of the University were named the top counselor and psychologist of the year by two separate organizations: Matthew Shervington and Dr. Nikole Hollins-Sims.
Matthew Shervington, a 2015 alumnus of Millersville’s graduate degree in school counseling, was named the Pennsylvania School Counselor of the Year by the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association. Shervington began work in the Southern York County School District in 2015 and has served as a high school counselor since 2016. “I am very fortunate in that many of the students and families that I work with are open, caring and invested people,” says Shervington of his school. “They care and are invested in positive outcomes for themselves, their students, their families, their friends and their communities.”
A good school counselor possesses many qualities, but Shervington says empathy is chief among them. “Above all, a good school counselor meets the primary criterion I would ask for of any good educator: they care about their students. As a school counselor, there are times you will be asked to go above and beyond and so you must care about your students and be willing to do that.” Shervington explains that as a father, he often thinks about how he wants his daughter’s educators to view her. “[I] utilize that empathy to guide what I’m doing with students. I want my daughter’s teachers and counselors to care about her and so I treat my students in that same regard. I think that is what makes a good educator and a good counselor.”
Shervington says the education he received from Millersville prepared him for his career and taught him what it means to be an empathetic counselor. “Millersville helped make me the school counselor I am,” he explains. “Millersville [made] school counseling a reality for me through their graduate program. The ASCA National Model and its emphasis on advocacy and accountability were emphasized at the outset of the program and throughout the entire program.”
Shervington notes that he would recommend Millersville to anyone considering a career in school counseling. “If anyone is thinking about pursuing a degree in school counseling, then Millersville has to be considered a really strong option,” he shares. Shervington also notes that MU produced many past recipients of the PA School Counselor of the Year Award, presidents of the Lancaster County School Counselors Association, a president for the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association, and many other leaders in the world of school counseling. “The networking that comes with being an MU alumnus of the school counseling program is absolutely tremendous!”
DR. NIKOLE HOLLINS-SIMS
Dr. Nikole Hollins-Sims is a two-time graduate of Millersville University’s psychology programs. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 2002 and a master’s degree in 2005. Throughout her career, she’s worked as a traditional school psychologist, an educational consultant and most recently, as special assistant to the Secretary of Education in Pennsylvania. In her latest role, she focuses on equity, inclusion and belonging in education. “My [job] allows for me to utilize my school psychology skills to help support positive learning environments across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
This year, Hollins-Sims was named the winner of the Association of School Psychology in Pennsylvania’s School Psychologist of the Year award. She was nominated for the award by her colleagues and says the win was deeply meaningful. “This award has special meaning, as it is a HIGH honor to be considered one of the best school psychologists in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” explains Hollins-Sims. “I am in the esteemed company of mentors and colleagues, who have continued to exemplify the best in school psychology practice. I am truly humbled by the award and hope that my experience can help other school psychologists to have the opportunity to expand their roles and showcase our dynamic skill sets.”
Hollins-Sims explains that in her opinion, a strong school psychologist is someone who remembers the reason they took the job in the first place, which she refers to as the ‘why’: “My “why” has been centered around making sure the students and families I served would have an amazing educational experience. Ideally, school psychologists are able to address individual student strengths and needs, family and community partnerships and systems-level thinking. With those skills, a strong school psychologist can make a significant impact in the educational ecosystem.”
Hollins-Sims also notes that her time studying psychology at Millersville University was pivotal in developing her career skills. “As an undergraduate, I was unsure which direction my psychology degree would take me,” she shares. “I had a wonderful advisor who recommended I consider school psychology as a potential graduate school option. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made.”
Do you want to become a counselor or psychologist? Learn more about the programs offered at Millersville University by clicking here.