Counselor Educator of the Year: NEIU’s Dr. Laura Tejada

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Frannie Mendoza

Dr. Tejada's office is always open to provide counseling and be a supportive professor to her students.

Amina Murati, Writer

Northeastern Illinois University’s very own Dr. Laura Tejada has been recognized by the Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling in Illinois (ACACI) for her excellence as a Counselor Educator. Here at NEIU, Tejada is both a school and family counselor, teaching students how to deal with family and conflict. 

In her capacity as counselor, Tejada helps those who are suffering from challenges at home that might impact their school work or ability to learn. 

“What I love about being a counselor is that I don’t have to put a diagnosis,” Tejada explained. “What’s helpful for kids is when the counselor is helpful to adults. As a family counselor, I’m flexible with that.” Tejada explains how the best way for kids to receive the help they need is when the family also gets involved. This way, the family members will be more aware of how they are able to help that child in helping them get through their struggle(s).

 Tejada also added how she enjoys having family members sit down alongside her clients to discuss ongoing issues. “I love the complexity of families,” said Tejada. “There is lots of love out there.”

Tejada wants her students to keep in mind that, “You never know what someone is going through until you sit down human to human and have a discussion.” She adds that, as people, we tend to judge others before we get to really know who they are and what they might be going through. “You’re talking with a person who has hopes, dreams and love, not someone with a mental diagnosis.” 

When having a conversation with someone who is persevering through unseen struggles, it is important to perceive them as you would anyone else rather than someone who might have a diagnosis. As for her students, she wants them to “see what her client wants” as a way to resolve any issues or conflicts they might be having. 

When meeting with each client, Tejada says she “looks to find out who is the child or family member, without any labels.” Tejada’s goal when speaking with her clients is “to be able to earn the privilege of learning who the family is and at the same time, balance the real pressures of trauma or reality of harm in society.” 

The way Tejada engages with her clients is both unique and care-driven, as Tejada looks to “not minimize the impact of forces on them.” By doing so, she helps her clients alleviate the pressures of overcoming any struggles they might be facing in a step-by-step manner, helping them navigate life’s most persistent obstacles.

Tejada is grateful for the platform NEIU has afforded her. “The students here are great and I love how this institution helps me be me and, at the same time, values and welcomes students. Northeastern [Illinois] changes lives and I wouldn’t be anywhere else.”

Tejada’s office is located in LWH 4054. You can email her at [email protected]