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College of Education

Mary Alice Bruce receives

inaugural ACES Legacy Award

A longtime University of Wyoming counselor education faculty member’s lifelong commitment to her profession, her students and her peers was spotlighted during the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision’s (ACES) 2015 conference earlier this month.

Mary Alice Bruce, professor of counselor education and head of the UW Department of Professional Studies, received ACES’ Legacy Award at the Philadelphia event. The award recognizes members “who have made a significant and lasting impression on ACES or on the counselor education and supervision profession.”

Word that she was one of the inaugural Legacy Award recipients, announced during a recent department meeting, came as a major surprise. A former student quietly gathered nomination letters and other evidence of Bruce’s worthiness for the recognition. It was surprising and welcome news.

“I was ever so grateful, so honored to be among this inaugural group of those recognized in this way,” Bruce says, crediting institutional and college support for the leadership roles she was able to take, with ACES and other organizations.

While her list of professional contributions is a long one, a few assignments stand out as particularly noteworthy. For instance, ACES’ membership roster doubled during Bruce’s service as membership committee chairperson.

“That helped me realize that, as a person, I can help make systemic change,” she says of that experience.

Bruce co-chaired the  American Counseling Association’s international committee and helped to establish activities, including a conference speaker dedicated to international student concerns, that continue today.

She also served on, and chaired, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) board. That work supported a longer-term commitment to defining and expanding national standards.

“We’ve really made a lot of strides to have counseling come together as a respected, identifiable profession,” Bruce says. Evidence of that work’s success is compelling: where once only a handful of states offered counselor licensure, all 50 states require it today. One likely outcome of that effort: stronger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the role counseling can play in improving quality of life.

“No longer is it as worrisome to visit with a counselor,” Bruce says. “People realize their friends often are supportive and yet may not be as objective as a counselor can be. Counseling is really about supporting people to find their strengths, making their own decisions and empowering them to move ahead in their lives.”

While the ACES Legacy Award is a lifetime achievement recognition, Bruce’s career still has several chapters left to write, including her continued leadership of the Professional Studies Department and as a member of the Counselor Education Program. She speaks with particular pride about the ways in which counselor education faculty members model the kind of interactions and processes that those in the profession advocate.

“We collaborate,” she says of the counselor education faculty. “We actually do what we say. We have a lot of diversity among us, as far as diversity of ideas and strategies to handle situations, and in terms of what we really value.”

She also continues to maintain ties to the tight-knit community of school counseling faculty and researchers.

“It’s a small and vibrant, intense community, and everyone does support each other,” she says. “The goal is to support empower our clients and students, whether they be P-12 students or adults and families, to be their best. That’s the whole point.”

Longer term, Bruce also looks forward to exploring new opportunities to mentor students and junior faculty, including relationships requiring distance-delivered support. 

Mary Alice Bruce

Mary Alice Bruce

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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