UTEP Grad Student Earns Top Mark in National Exam
Last Updated on May 22, 2020 at 12:00 AM
Originally published May 22, 2020
By Daniel Perez
Claudia Escajeda, a graduate student in The University of Texas at El Paso’s Mental Health Counseling Program (MHCP), earned the highest score in the country on the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination in spring 2020.
Escajeda earned a 114 out of 136 on the exam, which was the top score among the 603 individuals who took the test that is used to evaluate students’ academic training and the quality of the curriculum of the students’ counseling program. She took the test as part of her graduation requirements for her master’s degree in mental health counseling.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said the El Paso native who received the news in an email on her birthday. “I was quite emotional for a moment. I felt proud of my accomplishment.”
This exam is made up of 20 questions in eight categories that cover research, assessments, ethical practices, social and cultural diversity, human growth and development, counseling relationships and group counseling.
Escajeda said she studied hard using the faculty-recommenced materials. She said she expects to earn her graduate degree in August 2020. She received her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from UTEP in 2000.
Sang Min Shin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the College of Education’s Educational Psychology and Special Services, said that Escajeda’s accomplishment reflects the high quality of UTEP’s MHCP, which is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and other Educational Professions.
“(Escajeda’s) achievement shows that our program maintains well-grounded counseling curriculum that prepares our UTEP graduate students to be competent in foundational, counseling-related knowledge,” Shin said. “Our graduates meet the highest national standards and are competitive in the job markets in Texas and beyond.”
Escajeda said that her immediate goal is to become a licensed professional counselor, and she also may return to academia for her doctorate.
The MHCP has produced similar top scorers in the past. In 2016, Jazmin Gonzalez and Karen Yañez earned the exam’s top two scores, respectively.