College of Education’s Valentine named Professional of the Year by MSU Division of Student Affairs

Contact: Lydia Palmer

Portrait of Michael Valentine
Michael Valentine (Photo by Lydia Palmer)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State’s Division of Student Affairs appreciates the faculty and staff who care for each student, and they are recognizing the College of Education’s embedded counselor as Professional of the Year.

Michael Valentine is receiving the Bill Broyles, Assistant Vice President, Emeritus, Professional of the Year Award, which goes to someone who:

  • supports student success and learning;
  • supports the mission and advancement of the Division of Student Affairs;
  • demonstrates exceptional service and commitment to student and/or campus needs;
  • promotes a collaborative and sustainable environment; and
  • exemplifies originality and creativity within their role.

Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt said, “Dr. Valentine has been a wonderful member of our Student Affairs and Student Counseling Services team. His ethic of care for students and his colleagues is very apparent to all who know him. We will miss having him as a clinician within the Counseling Center but know he will continue to be a fantastic partner in his new faculty role in the College of Education.”

Valentine transitions August 1 from his embedded counselor role to become a fulltime faculty member in the College of Education’s Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations.

“Dr. Valentine’s dedication to our students goes far beyond the call of duty,” said College of Education Dean Teresa Jayroe. “His tireless efforts to provide comprehensive mental health services have become a cornerstone of our student support system. His unique blend of professional expertise and personal experience have made him not only an extraordinary counselor, but also an invaluable asset to our college community. We’re incredibly proud to have him as part of our team.”

Valentine’s journey to becoming a counselor was not linear. He began college as a biology major with a pre-medical concentration. Over his first two years, he found himself registering for more psychology courses and eventually changed his major to psychology. He said that upon graduation, he held a misperceived notion that holding a bachelor’s degree in psychology would lead directly to a career in the field.

This was not the case. Valentine went on to spend the next few years working in food service and construction to pay off student loans. While working in a hospital compounding IV fluids and delivering them to patients receiving home infusion therapy, he observed the distress of patients and their family members. This realization that the mental health needs of these individuals were not being met led him to return to school to study clinical psychology at MSU.

After earning a master’s degree in clinical psychology, he worked for many years treating people with substance use disorders. During this time, he had the opportunity to establish a substance use treatment center that served the Starkville community for seven years. Valentine also was involved in the formation of the local felony drug court, which diverts people away from incarceration and into treatment. This period of service to the community was when he started working with college students through MSU’s Collegiate Recovery Community, which supports students in recovery.

“It was rewarding to see families healed when a person was able to enter recovery,” Valentine said.

When his youngest son was born with a genetic illness, Valentine’s focus shifted. He accepted a job teaching for MSU’s psychology department and returned to graduate school to study clinical mental health counseling. Valentine’s family was beginning to function in a state of chronic stress, like the families he had observed years ago while working in a hospital. With baseline stress so high, even minor stressful events caused great distress. His knowledge of psychology and counseling helped him navigate the stress of his son’s illness, his bone marrow transplant and eventual death.

“I wanted to share what I had learned through experience with other people to help them with their caregiving experiences and grief,” Valentine said.

After completing the master’s program in clinical mental health counseling, he accepted a position in MSU’s Student Counseling Services and began to apply both his own life experiences and education to help students cope with the stresses they face, especially grief related to the loss of a loved one. After earning his Ph.D. in counselor education, he moved into the role of embedded counselor for the College of Education.

“My greatest hope is to increase awareness of how life presents difficulties for everyone and that, by being empathetic and kind, we can reduce some of the stress that our fellow members of the college face and make this an even better place to work and study.”

More information about sessions for students with mental health concerns can be found on the college’s wellness Canvas page found at the myState portal.

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