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Friday, February 3, 2012

Dr. Karen Pruett joins UNC Pembroke’s Career Center

In Dr. Karen Pruett, UNC Pembroke’s Career Center gets an 11-year veteran of counseling in a variety of higher education settings.

Karen PruettDr. Pruett, who started work January 9, completed work on her Ph.D. in 2011 at Auburn University. Her degree is in higher education administration, and her dissertation examined the success of learning communities in overcoming the “sophomore slump.”

The Career Center reports to Dr. Lisa Schaeffer, associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs. “We are very fortunate to have Dr. Pruett join our Career Center team,” Dr. Schaeffer said. “Her years of experience and her passion for student development will enable her to provide outstanding career counseling and opportunities for our students.”

A Rock Springs, Ga., native, Dr. Pruett said UNCP is a good fit for her training and skills. “I’m excited to be here. This is a great opportunity for me to use my training and experience,” she said. “I’ve been a career and personal counselor for nearly 12 years.”

Dr. Pruett is a nationally certified counselor, and for the past six years, she was a career counselor at Auburn, providing individual and group career counseling to undergraduates, graduate students and alumni. Before that, she worked at Gainesville State College and Georgia Highlands College.

“I am very familiar with the regional model in higher education and its students,” Dr. Pruett said. “At both Gainesville State College and Georgia Highlands College, which served several counties, I provided career and academic counseling and personal counseling.”

One of Dr. Pruett’s first assignments at UNCP is to teach a class for the living and learning community, a group of freshmen living in Pine Residence Hall. The group took the college transition class (Freshman Seminar) in their first semester, and in the spring semester, Dr. Pruett is teaching a class on career assessment and choosing an academic major program.

“My dissertation research concerned the impact of a freshman year learning community on the students’ success in the second year,” she said. “‘Did they avoid the sophomore slump?’ was the question I asked. I found their commitment to an academic major to be the biggest beneficiary.”

The Career Center will partner with the Center for Academic Excellence next fall for another living-learning community project. “We’ll study the results from this year and see where we will go from there,” Dr. Pruett said. “There are a variety of models. We’ve selected a living-learning model, and we’ve already met with Student Housing to reserve living space.”

Dr. Pruett is also experienced with internship programs, both themed and general. She believes internships provide valuable experience and build standout resumes.

“I was program coordinator for Auburn on the Hill, a congressional internship program, which resulted in 35 students receiving internships in congressional offices,” she said. “I’m a believer in the value of both internships and civic engagement. Students learn transferable skills, and these experiences stand out to prospective employers.”

Recently, Dr. Pruett made several presentations to professional groups concerning veterans transitioning to higher education and employment. “I’ve worked on several initiatives with veterans and veteran employment,” she said. “In focus groups and individual interviews, I helped veterans translate their military training into civilian skills for employment.

“I worked with veterans to utilize the new GI Bill,” she said. “There is a very big push to better serve veterans at UNCP and elsewhere.”

Two of her presentations were titled “Serving Those Who Served: Best Practices for Meeting Career Development Needs of Veteran Students” and “From Combat to Career: The Role of University Career Counselors in Serving Veteran Students.”

Dr. Pruett is a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the National Career Development Association, the American Counseling Association and the Southeastern Federal Recruiting Council.

As she settles in at UNCP, Dr. Pruett likes what she sees. “Everybody has been very helpful, and I’m making a smooth transition,” she said.

For more information, contact the Career Center at 910.521.6270 or email career@uncp.edu.

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