by Leah Jackson
Rachel Cunningham, assistant director of Counseling and Career Services at Northwestern State University, was named Outstanding New Professional in the Louisiana Association of Colleges and Employers (LACE).
LACE is an organization whose goal is to create an understanding between individuals in career services who are focused on the career development and employment of the college educated. LACE supports professionals who promote and foster relationships among the constituents, serve as the voice of the profession and create and retain leaders in the profession by facilitating the exchange of knowledge and insight. LACE provides professional development, promotes high professional standards and identifies trends, issues, challenges and opportunities in the profession.
Cunningham’s nomination read as follows.
“Rachel joined Career Services one month before the COVID transition to virtual services. Being new to the profession, she had to learn about her role and career services from home. She jumped into the LACE community without hesitation asking about resources and learning on-the-go. She joined the coffee chats and was featured in the LACE newsletter. In her short time in the field, she has been promoted to assistant director and brought in a new team of staff to help continue the quality services of her center. Without a doubt, I know that this individual has much more to show our career services and LACE community in her determination for success and team-oriented mindset.”
Prior to joining the staff in Counseling and Career Services, Cunningham was an educator who taught in Natchitoches Parish for 28 years and coached for 20 years. She was a Master Teacher for eight years, worked with student teachers and was an adjunct instructor in NSU’s School of Education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education at NSU in 1992 and a Master’s of Education in 1996. She joined the NSU staff in 2020 and faced a steep learning curve working from home during the pandemic. Her colleagues in LACE were helpful in answering questions and sharing knowledge as she learned best practices and how to help students while working remotely, she said.
NSU’s Office of Career Services assists students with career planning by hosting career fairs and offering guidance with resumes, mock interviews, internships, career counseling, career assessments and full- and part-time employment.
Cunningham said the benefits of LACE, and the larger related organizations National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and Southern Association of Colleges and Employers (SOACE) are the shared ideas and resources. Almost every college in Louisiana has a representative in LACE.
“One of the first things I did was join LACE, NACE, and SOACE to stay familiar with continuing education opportunities and learn about resources that were available to me that were beneficial for our students and outside employers,” Cunningham said.
Information is available at careercenter.nsula.edu. The office can be found on Twitter (@NSULAJobs), Facebook (NSULA Career Center) and Instagram (nsulacareercenter) using the hashtag #hirepurple.