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Sunday, September 16, 2018



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Nicholls State counselor embraces family, communication

Nicholls State counselor embraces family, communication

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) — Family and communication have always been cornerstones of Julius Austin's life.

Throughout his time playing professional soccer and then getting his education, Austin's twin brother Jude was by his side. At the same time, Austin always appreciated the value and necessity of communication. As a soccer player, he enjoyed playing a position that allowed him to communicate and lead his entire team.

That devotion to family and communication has led Austin to feel at home at Nicholls State University where he works as a counselor, outreach coordinator and teacher.

"The genuineness of the students have, the close-knit community that we have, it makes you want to stay," Austin said. "What getting a job here meant was starting not only a new chapter, but it felt like the start to life after education. This is the perfect place for somebody who is starting their career to learn and grow and develop."

Austin, who has a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision, takes on many roles at Nicholls. As a counselor, he meets with individual clients as well as offering couples counseling and group therapy. As outreach coordinator, he builds relationships with different programs and departments on campus by giving presentations on issues such as anxiety, stress and school-life balance. As a teacher, Austin teaches future counselors the basic skills they will need.

"I love helping students make that transition from the theories that they've been learning through their classes to the practical side of things," Austin said. "There's a lot of anxiety in that class, but I love it."

Michele Caruso, dean of the Office of Student Services, said Austin brings a lot to the table for students, faculty and staff.

"He's very passionate about his work with students," Caruso said. "He has a very diverse background that he brings with him in terms of life experience. That makes a difference. He's very genuine. Students very easily pick up on professionals who are not so genuine. He has a very gently way about him that makes students feel very comfortable."

Austin was born in Opelousas, and he made the jump into professional soccer at a young age. At 14, he and his brother were signed by Cruz Azul, a pro team based out of Mexico City, to play in the team's youth division. Austin's stay in Mexico was short, however, as he was soon picked to be a part of the U.S. Olympic Developmental Program.

Austin then transitioned into a college soccer, playing for four years at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. Austin received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology as well as a Master of Arts in clinical mental health counseling. His next stop was the University of Wyoming where he received his doctorate.

He said he chose the University of Wyoming because he was seeking a completely different experience, such as the "body engulfing experience" of Wyoming's cold weather. Austin said he slipped on ice as he was trying to answer the phone call that led to his hiring at Nicholls.

"I knew that I was wanting to end up in Louisiana," Austin said of taking the job at Nicholls, "and I hadn't even heard of Nicholls before. But when I looked at the website and I talked with my family who's from Louisiana, I thought this looked pretty good. Then I talked with Dr. Caruso, and the second I met her I knew this was the type of person I wanted to influence my development."

Austin's life has changed in other ways since arriving at Nicholls. The biggest challenge has been he and his wife, Megan, having their first child in December. As his family grew, Austin said the way his Nicholls family celebrated the impending arrival of Cairo Anthony Austin made him appreciate the relationships Nicholls has given him.

"I don't even know what you would call it," he said. "A baby shower? A man shower? At that time, I've never felt more connected with people before that I've went to school with or worked with. Even if I don't stay here the rest of my life, those people are the people I want to keep in my life."

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Information from: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com