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Current Student Q&A: On Homelessness, Nonprofits and Clinical Counseling

Richmont Graduate University is full of exceptional students. We’re quite proud. It is an honor to spotlight the accomplishments of current students and alumni.

Meet Cary Bayless. He is in the second-year of his Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree. Cary, a creative writing major from Auburn University, is the development and marketing director at Family Promise of Greater Chattanooga.

Cary’s job is to end homelessness in the Scenic City, and he believes his studies at Richmont will help him accomplish this, one person at a time.

Cary has a full course load while working more than 40-hours a week.  He burns his fair share of daylight–and a heaping portion of midnight oil.

Despite the academic and job rigor, Cary’s social calendar is bewildering. He is active on campus and in the community. He fills his time with:

  • Richmont’s student government association
  • North Shore Fellowship’s local missions committee
  • North Shore Fellowship youth group leader
  • ArtsBuild’s Community Cultural Connections Grant panel
  • First Tennessee Bank community development advisory committee

We had a chance to catch up with Cary to find out more about his work and how Richmont is helping him bring healing to the homeless community.

Cary, tell us a little about what you do for work?

I have worked in the nonprofit world serving homeless families with children and veterans for four years now. During this time, I’ve worked various roles from raising funds, marketing, teaching life-skills classes, case management, and even home visits for clients. I love this demographic and believe they are one of the most grossly underserved and misunderstood people groups of our era.

Why did you decide to pursue an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling?

I chose to pursue my CMHC degree from Richmont with the trauma certificate and green cross certification so that I can serve this demographic in a deeper way through offering therapy and mental health services.

Mental health issues, from my research and personal experience, are quite prevalent and often combined with trauma for many who experience homelessness. My training at Richmont is equipping me with the skills needed to be able to sit with those wounded by homelessness from a holistic, integrative, therapeutic approach.

How do you want to use your degree?

In the future, I hope to be able to offer nature therapy, group therapy, and individual therapy for this demographic, as well as anyone who desires it. To boil it down simply, in the years ahead I look forward to being able to sit with many brave individuals who have experienced homelessness and offer a safe space for healing and growth to flourish.

I recently finished the first two certifications to be a part of the Green Cross trauma field team, so I’m already putting my class work to use.

Any advice for people considering a graduate degree?

I would say, count the cost before you begin. Graduate school is rewarding, but it’s a big commitment. It can be a season of sacrifice and opportunity cost, but if you’re excited about it and feel you can make the world, and yourself, better for it, you can make it work. Be sure the degree is something you’re passionate about.

A degree from Richmont is worth the time and dedication. Interactive lessons with professors, clinical internships, and a 100 percent passing rate on the national licensure tests are second to none. Find out why Cary and many others choose Richmont to equip them to make the world a better place. Apply today.