Graduates Nikky Eminzade and Ally Kasbon
By School of Behavioral Health - November 17, 2023

The Spring 2023 School of Behavioral Health Commencement on June 12, 2023 marked a milestone for the Department of Counseling and Family Sciences (CFS) and its programs: the first students from the department's dual degree master's program graduated!

Nigar ("Nikky") Eminzade and Allison (Samp) Kasbon both earned Master of Science degrees in Counseling and Marital and Family Therapy in addition to certificates. Nikky completed a certificate in Drug and Alcohol Counseling. Ally completed her certificate in School Counseling, which leads to a pupil personnel services (PPS) credential through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC).

Both graduates were among the first to be accepted into the department's then-new dual degree master's program in Fall 2020. Of the 12 students who were originally accepted into the program that fall, only Ms. Eminzade and Mrs. Kasbon persevered to the end—the other applicants leaving due to the pandemic or opting to complete a single master's degree. Time and again, these students demonstrated discipline, focus, and resilience in the face of unanticipated hurdles and challenges.

Ms. Eminzade was involved in a major traffic accident her first summer in the program and required an extended period of recovery. Yet despite this major setback, she persisted and completed her program on schedule. Nikky completed clinical hours in the FAITHS Program in the San Bernardino County jail, working with incarcerated men and women supporting them in their efforts to reunite with their minor children. She finished her required clinical hours working in the new SBH Resiliency Clinic with couples and families. Throughout the program, Nikky maintained a smile and a positive attitude, handling with poise whatever curve ball was thrown her way.

Mrs. Kasbon's calendar was packed. In addition to completing her courses in the dual degree program, she also completed two clinical placements—and coached high school tennis! Her first placement was with Desert Mountain Children's Center and her second at the SBH Resiliency Clinic, working with couples and families. In addition, Ally was required to do two placements as part of her school counseling certificate. Prior to graduation, Ally received an offer for full-time employment as a school counselor at the same charter school in Apple Valley she attended as a student. Since graduation, she has married, received her PPS credential, and started her first year of full-time employment. Despite her busyness, Ally managed to always maintain an upbeat, positive attitude and diligently worked to meet the rigorous requirements of her program.

These two truly remarkable women managed to get the most out of their programs through one of the most challenging times in history while earning outstanding GPAs. The CFS department, its faculty and staff (especially Lena Lopez Bradley, PhD and Randall Walker, MS, co-directors of the dual degree MS program along with Mary Moline, PhD, former co-director and recently retired) wish both of these powerful graduates success in all their future endeavors. It has been a privilege working with them.

Written by Randall Walker, MS, LMFT, Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling and Family Sciences