Counseling major at MSU-Meridian to become therapist for troubled teens

Contact:  Lisa Sollie Dark haired young woman in cream colored blouse leaning against a window and brick wall

MERIDIAN, Miss.— For Mississippi State graduate student Morgan Melton of Enterprise, it is in the journey rather than the destination which makes life's milestones all the more meaningful.  Melton, a counselor education major, is this spring's Outstanding Graduate Student in MSU-Meridian's Division of Education. 

Recently hired as a therapist with The Crossings at Alliance Health Center, an adolescent residential treatment center in Meridian, Melton will work with 12 adolescent girls, ages 12 to 17, doing individual therapy, group therapy and some family therapy. She begins her new job this month.

Counseling wasn’t her first choice of career, however. She planned to become a teacher until a frank discussion with her mother led her to rethink her path.

“My mom is a teacher and she asked me one day, ‘Why do you want to be a teacher, and don’t say it’s because I’m one,’” Melton recalled. “When we dug into my 'why,' she said it sounded like I needed to go into the counseling field and not education.”

After completing her prerequisites at Meridian Community College and transferring to MSU's Starkville campus to study psychology, she married and then enrolled at MSU-Meridian her senior because her husband also was stationed in the Queen City.

Melton faced many decisions her senior year. The biggest one was whether to pursue a master’s degree in counseling or psychology, but her decision was put on hold when her husband was accepted into flight school in Ft. Rucker, Alabama.

“David had been waiting for this moment for years,” she said. “And I knew as a newlywed, I wanted to be with him. He moved to Alabama in March of 2018, and I moved in May, after my graduation.”

After the couple returned to Meridian a year later and after she had many discussions with her professors and Kim Hall, head of the division of education, Melton decided to return to MSU-Meridian to pursue a 60-hour counselor education degree program that met the requirements for both clinical mental health and school counseling.

“By doing both disciplines, which Dr. Hall suggested, I would have the flexibility, after graduating to either apply for my school counseling license or become a licensed professional counselor,” Melton said.

Life intervened once again and she deferred her practicum in 2020 to give birth to a baby girl in September. Once the new year rolled around, she spent that spring with the school counselor at Enterprise elementary and middle schools, and in 2021 she completed an internship at Northeast High School.

“I was a little intimidated at first, because most of my experience had been with younger children, but I discovered I loved working with teenagers," she said. "I connected with them in a way I never thought I would, and every day when I went home, I would tell my husband this is what I wanted to do with my life.”

After completing her internship, Melton’s next step was to pass the comprehensive exams, graduate and head out into the world. But things did not go as planned.

“When I didn’t pass my comps the first time, I struggled with self-doubt and wondered if counseling was truly my calling,” she said. “My husband not only encouraged me to keep going, but he also reminded me I will have a testimony to share with our daughter when she is faced with her own struggles. I couldn’t have made it without his support.”

Confident she would pass her oral exams this spring, Melton began looking for a school counselor job, but there were no openings. Anxious to begin her professional career, she had a heart-to-heart conversation with God.

“When I was studying the first time to take my exams, I kept praying to God that if I passed, I’d go wherever and do whatever He wanted me to do,” she recalled. “After I passed my oral exams, I realized I wasn’t keeping up my end of the deal. I was trying to control my destiny instead of placing it in his hands.”

The next morning Melton received a phone call from Roseanne Nunnery, associate clinical professor of counseling at MSU-Meridian informing her of the therapist job opening at The Crossings.

“I wasn’t even looking for anything in the clinical field, but this job feels like the perfect fit,” she said.  “Everything is falling into place. The journey was hard, and the route was different than I expected, but I’m really excited about the destination God has led me to.”

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