Congratulations, December Class of 2021!

Today, the UNC Greensboro School of Health and Human Sciences gained 182 new alumni. Congratulations to all of our HHS Spartans! We know you have a bright future ahead.

By the Numbers:

  • Undergraduate (BS/BA/BSW): 148
  • Master’s (MS/MSAT/MA): 21
  • Doctorate (EdD/PhD): 10
  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate: 3

Two of our exceptional graduates are featured in the Q&A below.

Aaliyah Mathews
Aaliyah Mathews

Aaliyah Mathews

BS, Human Development & Family Studies with a concentration in Child, Youth, and Family Development and minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

HHS Social Media Coordinator
2021-2022 Spartan of Promise
SECU Public Fellows Intern
Undergraduate Research Assistant on iGrow Study
Marketing Manager for No Labels (LGBTQIA+ Student Organization)
Spartan Service Day Site Leader

Why did you choose the HDFS program at UNCG?

When I first came to UNCG, I was actually an English major with a concentration in secondary education. It only took about two weeks for me to realize that required me to read far more Shakespeare than I could handle. I was enrolled in an HDFS course, Families and Close Relationships, with Dr. (Heather) Helms, and I just fell in love with it.

I just felt really connected with everything I was learning, and I was excited to go to that class every time. So, I looked into the other courses and the major requirements and decided to make the switch. It was the best decision for sure.

What is one of your favorite memories of your time in HDFS/HHS?

I would say that working NAV1GATE this fall was probably my favorite memory. It’s always cool to be on the other side of an event I experienced as a freshman. I was just there to cover the event for HHS social media, but afterwards, a lot of first-year students were coming up to ask me questions, and it felt really good to be able to help them.

I was too nervous to ask a lot of the questions I wanted to ask when I was a freshman, so it was great to see them putting themselves out there as well.

How did HDFS help inform your future?

I have always known that I wanted to help people in some capacity. Serving others has always been extremely important to me. Learning about how we grow and develop throughout our lives and how our interactions and experiences with our families and other loved ones are shaped by our development really helped me realize that I wanted to go into the mental health/counseling field.

Working with children and families specifically feels like a good place to start. I’m hoping to have my own counseling practice one day.

What are your plans after graduation?

Immediately after graduation, I’m taking a nap. Beyond that, I am looking forward to hearing back from the graduate Clinical Mental Health Counseling programs I’ve applied to and hoping to start one of those this summer or fall. In the meantime, I will be working as a student services advocate at a high school in my hometown.

I’ll get to work under the school social worker and school counselor to gain some valuable experience that will lend itself to my future career.

Any advice for incoming students?

I would definitely say that it’s important to remember that your mental and physical health should always come first. There may be times where you really have a lot on your plate and you have to make the decision to push things aside for a second to focus on you – it’s the right decision.

Figuring out a balance between school, work, and whatever else you’ve got going on early in your college career can help you avoid feeling like you’re overwhelmed, and I think that’s really important.

Crystal Salinas MacKinnon
Crystal Salinas MacKinnon

Crystal Salinas MacKinnon

MA, Peace & Conflict Studies
BA, Philosophy
with a minor in Sociology ‘19

“Crystal has leveraged her PCS studies to help her develop a diverse portfolio of community-engaged activities in and around Asheville, NC, where she resides. Crystal is committed, sincere, and talented.”
Dr. Douglas Fry, professor, Peace & Conflict Studies

How did you find your way to Peace and Conflict Studies?

I enrolled at UNCG and graduated with a BA in Philosophy and a minor in Sociology (in 2019). In thinking about what to study next, I wanted to set myself up to be a community practitioner.

I considered public policy, public administration, political science, and sociology. What I realized is that the Peace and Conflict Studies MA program incorporates elements of all of these “soft sciences.” I decided PCS was the way to go. Once you start to get involved in the community, you start to build relationships.

I think relationship-building is one of the fundamental cornerstones of everything I do. With PCS, you can be as micro or as macro as you want. In every class, you also can be theoretical and academic or be someone who is gearing more toward practical application. I use the theory to inform practical applications.

How have you merged what you’ve learned in your Peace and Conflict Studies classes with practical applications in your community?

Well first, in the classes much of what we cover is tied to real world situations, as opposed to simply theory. If you want to be a practitioner in your community, it can be difficult to do that. How do I leverage these skills to not only satisfy my ethical obligation to resolve important conflicts, but also, like, how do I literally do it? Where do I belong?

Whenever I had a choice in the PCS Program about what to work on, I made it about Asheville. So, over time, a body of work—a depth of understanding—came into focus on the local situation. What I really want to do is “harm reduction” at the more micro level, in the community. This leads into my “peace journalism” activities and “the radical new paradigm of simply telling the truth.”

A predictable question to ask you would be what sort of work do you envision doing upon graduation from the Peace and Conflict Studies MA Program. However, I know that you already have been offered, and accepted, a very interesting job working for one of the candidates running for U.S. Congress. I gather you are excited?

I feel I am in my element. I truly believe in her. The job suits me – I like talking with people, following local news. I also feel really appreciated and respected as an “expert” on issues pertaining to the Asheville area and for my knowledge of human behavior, given my studies and experience.

Story by Elizabeth L. Harrison, past HHS Communications & Marketing Specialist, with help from Dr. Douglas P. Fry, Department of Peace & Conflict Studies Professor and Department Chair

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