Alum Derron Hilts Receives NARACES Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year Award

Derron HiltsDerron Hilts "is one of those students who you know is going to be a professional because they realize that being a professional is not just a series of courses...his fire of curiosity is just ablaze", reflected Dr. William Casile, Derron's former counselor education professor in Duquesne's School of Education. Dr. Casile's acknowledgment of Derron's aptitude was further endorsed as the School of Education alum is receiving the 2021 North Atlantic Region Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (NARACES) Outstanding Graduate (Doctoral) Student of the Year Award' at the 2021 Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES) Conference (NARACES Regional Meeting) in Atlanta, Georgia.

Derron Hilts is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Counseling and Counselor Education at Syracuse University where he also serves as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Counseling & Human Services. Derron graduated from Duquesne School of Education's M.S.Ed. School Counseling program in 2017. Derron was nominated for this award and is enthusiastically supported by faculty from his graduate studies. 

This award honors a graduate student who invests in their academic and personal development as a counselor through engaging in scholarship, organizational, research, and leadership activities. Dr. William Casile speaks to Derron's academic pursuits as a student, leadership role in Chi Sigma Iota, and his personal commitment to becoming a counselor and notes that Derron "recognized very early in his career that this is a profession of becoming competent, which means being actively engaged in professional activity and activity that helps challenged you personally...what the process of interpersonal connect means, the work is based on developing relationships. Derron applied these skills...as he went through the program and beyond..."

Derron shares a reflection on his continual development in the counseling profession and on his time at Duquesne:

Duquesne University's Counselor Education Program provided me with the foundational knowledge, skills, dispositions necessary to work towards becoming a reflective, ethical, and culturally sustaining professional counselor and now, an emerging counselor educator. During my time in the program, I grew a lot as a person and as an emerging professional counselor which is what I think I appreciated most about my experience at Duquesne. More specifically, my experience in the program served as a catalyst to maintain a sustained commitment of interrogating my beliefs, past experiences, and identities and the ways in which I might be inadvertently contributing to oppressive work in my personal and professional life. Furthermore, I cannot thank the counselor education faculty enough for their mentorship in various capacities (e.g., research, scholarship, personal development) and for seeing something in me that I did not see in myself which has most certainly contributed to who I am today.

Congratulations Derron, and thank you for your commitment and care to the field. We are honored to have you as an alum.