Brittany Crystal Smith Master's in Mental Health Counseling

Capella University student Brittany Crystal Smith was one of 30 students in 2017 who received an $8,000 fellowship from the NBCC Foundation, an affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

The fellowship supports individuals seeking degrees in counseling in order to work with underserved minority populations.

“Working with adolescents is my passion,” says Smith, who is currently pursuing a master’s in mental health counseling at Capella.

A Setback and Reevaluation

For Smith, 29, the fellowship award was a much-needed affirmation that she was on the right track career-wise. A year prior, while enrolled in a graduate program at a university in New York City, she had been dealt an emotional setback: “Basically, one of my instructors told me to give up. I had to reevaluate everything. I ended up breaking down crying while riding the subway. I was really stressed out.”

Smith dropped out of the program and took some time to evaluate her options. She still felt passionate about working with adolescents. She still wanted a master’s degree in counseling. Slowly, her emotional strength came back, and she began to research other educational opportunities.

Online Degree Offers Flexibility

Capella emerged as a top choice. What’s more, the online program offered flexibility, allowing her to move without jeopardizing her studies. “I’m a wanderer by nature,” Smith says. Since starting her master’s program, she has relocated twice—to Texas and North Carolina.

Smith applied for the NBCC fellowship at the urging of one of her instructors. “Capella has really supported me,” Smith says. “Faculty has been very encouraging.”

Balancing master’s work and daily life has been challenging. “I’ve had to improve my time management skills,” she says. “I’ve had to learn how to say no, and cut back on scheduling things.”

A Goal Worth Pursuing

Smith, who is scheduled to finish her program in December, says all the hard work will be worth the effort when she gets her degree. Eventually, with a license in hand, she hopes to get into private practice and even do some international counseling. The fellowship will allow her to fund her education and gain work experience in the field.

“I’ve had to make some sacrifices,” Smith says, “but that’s what you do when you have a goal that’s truly worth pursuing.”


Learn more about Capella’s Master’s in Mental Health Counseling program.