Discover Your Island

Outstanding Islander Graduate from India Earns Doctorate in Counselor Education

December 10, 2015

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Saumya Arora, who will graduate on Saturday, Dec. 12, with a Ph.D. in Counselor Education from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, had planned from a young age to have a career in helping people.

“During my childhood, I realized that I was good at communicating and connecting with people,” said Arora. “I always felt my job should have a bigger purpose.”

In August 2015, Arora successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, and that same day, she left for Arizona, where she accepted a position at Northern Arizona University as a Clinical Assistant Professor. She will return to Corpus Christi to walk the stage.

Aurora is one of about 780 students who will graduate during Texas A&M-Corpus Christi commencement ceremony at the American Bank Center. The ceremony, which begins at 10 a.m., includes graduates from all five of A&M-Corpus Christi’s colleges.

“Even though I have been in Arizona this last semester, the excitement to graduate is no less,” Arora said. “Only when you move away from a place do you realize how much you miss it.”

Arora grew up in India, and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in her home country.

“India is a wonderful country, but counseling is not as structured a profession there yet,” she said. “I wanted to get the best doctoral education possible in this field, and A&M-Corpus Christi houses the most successful professionals as faculty members.”

During her time at the Island University, Arora was employed as an adjunct faculty member and a teaching assistant. She was also the 2014-2015 Outstanding Doctoral Student finalist. Arora says she is especially indebted to Dr. Robert L. Smith, Professor and Chair of the College of Education.

“Dr. Smith’s role in my doctoral journey was more than a professor,” said Arora. “He was a supportive mentor who helped me acculturate to this new world at TAMU-CC.”

Arora’s scholarly interests include dialectical behavior therapy, achievement motivation, working with student athletes and multicultural studies. In her new position at Northern Arizona University, Arora works with graduate students who are working toward clinical mental health counseling licensure.

“This first semester has been equally challenging and rewarding,” she said.

Arora has faced a number of challenges during the pursuit of her doctoral degree at A&M-Corpus Christi. In November 2014, she was involved in a serious car accident.

“I was fortunate to walk away from the accident with no major injuries, but it was a difficult time,” she said. “It was a challenge to get over the trauma, but with my family’s support, my recovery couldn’t have been smoother.”

Arora says her strength has always come from her family. She lost her father when she was 19.

“At that point, my mother could have asked me or my brother to stay close to home and assume financial responsibility for the household. She chose not to,” she said. “Instead, she gave us the confidence to lead our lives and achieve our academic and professional dreams.”

Arora’s mother will travel from India to attend her commencement.

“She pushed me to achieve greater heights than I ever thought existed, and never let me settle for anything but the best,” Arora said.