OSU-Tulsa graduate finds her passion as advocate for people with eating disorders
Grace Evans entered OSU-Tulsa’s master’s program in counseling with some uncertainty.
A bachelor’s degree in sociology had prepared her to study people, but from afar.
“I have always been interested in human beings, but I wasn’t sure if this was the right fit,” she said. “I quickly realized that the personal interaction of counseling was just what I was looking for.”
After graduating with her degree in 2015, Evans landed a position as a therapist in the adolescent unit for the Laureate Eating Disorders Program.
“I absolutely love my job and I love this population,” Evans said. “I have become passionate about helping the people who struggle with this illness.”
Eating disorders are complex, life-threatening conditions that affect people both mentally and physically.
“People with this illness often feel isolated and alone and that’s a common theme with people with mental illness,” Evans said. “In the work I do, we emphasize relationships and connection. That’s what allows them to move forward.”
At Laureate, Evans works specifically with 12- to 18-year-old females.
Their struggles have awakened a strong desire to advocate for her young patients outside of therapy. She organized the National Eating Disorders Association Walk in Tulsa for three years and continues to be active in the organization.
She also desires to be an innovator in the field of eating disorders therapy. Evans is training to become a certified yoga instructor so that she can incorporate the practice within her treatment plans.
“So many of our young ladies are absolutely disconnected from their bodies,” she said. “Incorporating movement and breathing in with the talk therapy will help fill that missing mind and body piece that is so important.”
Evans said OSU-Tulsa was the ideal place to earn her degree.
A convenient class schedule enabled her to work as a psychiatric technician at Laureate while pursuing her degree. Scholarships made the program more affordable. And courses are offered consistently, allowing her to complete her degree on time.
She credits much of her success to her professors, particularly faculty advisor, Dr. Tonya Hammer, associate professor of counseling and director of the Body Image and Disordered Eating Lab at OSU-Tulsa.
But Hammer notes that Evans has an aptitude for counseling.
“Gracie’s ability to empathize with a client was incredible from the very beginning. She also has an uncanny ability to get the heart of the matter even in the most difficult of situations,” Hammer said. “Both of these characteristics are so important when working with clients dealing with eating disorders and are part of what makes Gracie so good at what she does.”
Evans said OSU-Tulsa equipped her well for a career in counseling.
“I graduated from OSU-Tulsa and immediately got my dream job,” Evans said. “It’s pretty cool to be 25 years old and get the perfect job right away.”
To learn more about the OSU-Tulsa Counseling program, visit the program website. To learn more about the Tulsa NEDA Walk on March 30, visit the National Eating Disorders Association website.
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