Homeless work earns counselor education student a Multicultural Counseling Award

sandhu award winner

Doctoral student Michael Brubaker is the first recipient of the Dr. Daya and Mrs. Usha Sandhu Multicultural Counseling and Diversity Student Research Award. Shown here are (from left) Assistant Professor Cirecie West-Olatunji, Brubaker, Usha Sandhu and Daya Sandhu

Doctoral student Michael Brubaker assembled a group of his fellow counselor education students for a three-hour session with residents of a Gainesville homeless shelter—and found that the counselors were much more open to working with homeless people because of the interaction. This pilot study, plus his research on Native American healing traditions and his work with drug-addicted homeless people in Jacksonville, have earned Brubaker the first Dr. Daya and Mrs. Usha Sandhu Multicultural Counseling and Diversity Student Research Award.

Brubaker traveled to Honolulu to receive the award, which was presented March 28 at the annual conference of the American Counseling Association. The award was created this year by the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development, a division of the ACA, in honor of Daya Sandhu, a University of Louisville counselor education professor.

"Daya Sandhu is one of the pillars of research in multicultural counseling," Brubaker said, "And I’m honored to receive this award."

Brubaker has worked with Seeking Treatment or Recovery — a Jacksonville project which offers addiction treatment services to chronically homeless people—assisting with an evaluation of the STAR’s programs.

Recently, he began working on homeless issues closer to home, bringing a group of counselor education students to St. Francis House, a local homeless shelter, to meet with homeless clients, St, Francis House staff and UF professors, and discuss ways to provide counseling services to homeless clients. He evaluated the students after the experience, and the pilot study revealed that after visiting St. Francis House, students were more willing to work with homeless clients and less likely to attribute their housing condition to personal deficiencies.

Brubaker has also worked with Assistant Professor Michael Garrett on an article on Native American healing traditions and how they might be useful in counseling, and has taught an undergraduate course on alcohol and drug abuse.