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Well-Earned Recognition

State award serves as capstone to a ‘genuine and kind’ professor’s career

Dr. Christy Lyons Graham never thought she would be named Massachusetts’ Counselor Educator of the Year. But her graduate students have long known her as a top professor.  

And they can’t think of anyone more deserving of the award from the Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association.  

“She is so empathetic and compassionate and wants to see her students do well,” said Kerry Gallagher-Rebolo, who credits Lyons with helping her view clients as humans rather than people with symptoms. “She has such a nice gentle approach.”  

The award recognizes Lyons’ longstanding commitment to teaching. During two decades at Bridgewater, her many roles have included department chair, fieldwork director and founding chapter faculty advisor for Chi Sigma Iota, an international counseling honor society.  

“It’s quite an honor particularly because I’ve been at Bridgewater since 2004 as a counselor educator and have striven to provide a wonderful top-notch education for our students,” said Lyons, who is also a licensed mental health counselor. “To be acknowledged and recognized after all that time is a special honor I wasn’t expecting.”  

Lyons credited her “spectacular” students for keeping her motivated and excited for every new semester. She sought to help them grow as counselors and people and understand personal biases that affect their work.  

“We want to make sure the people we’re sending out are equipped emotionally and academically to provide services,” Lyons said.  

Kristen Gloss appreciates the confidence she gained through a class with Lyons in which students conducted mock-counseling sessions.  

“The biggest thing that stands out about her is how genuine and kind and supportive she is,” said Kristen, who is making a career change from journalism to counseling. “She has this way of reassuring that we do have the skills and knowledge (to be successful).”   

When Swati Dehariya experienced a crisis that could have affected her academic progress, Lyons was the supportive mentor who emphasized that her mental health came first.  

“BSU mental health program faculty really practice what they preach and what they teach us,” said Swati, who expects to complete her degree this month. “She exemplified that.”  

As she retires at the end of the month, Lyons leaves behind an impact on the university stretching beyond her department. She organized weeklong teach-ins about the Black Lives Matter movement and 2016 presidential election where professors from across BSU infused lessons on those topics into their classes.  

Christy Lyons sits with children in Jordan.

And Lyons and Dr. Sarah Thomas, an associate professor of secondary education and educational leadership, led a study tour to Jordan that changed participants’ perspectives about the Middle East.  

“Bridgewater has been a place where I’ve grown a lot as a person and counselor educator,” she said. “I’ve felt very, very supported in all of my efforts here. I look back with pride and gratitude.”

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