DURHAM —As a counselor, Linwood Webster is looking forward to returning home and making a difference in the lives of local youths.
The NBCC Foundation, an affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), recently selected Webster for the NBCC Minority Fellowship Program-Youth (MFP-Y). As a fellow of this program, Webster will receive $8,000 in funding and training to support his education and facilitate his service to underserved minority populations, with a specific focus on transition-age youths (ages 16 – 25).
The NBCC MFP will distribute education awards to Webster and 30 other master’s-level counseling students picked to receive the fellowship award. The NBCC Foundation is a nonprofit and is devoted to credentialing counselors meeting standards for the general and specialty practices of professional counseling. Its mission is to leverage the power of counseling by strategically focusing resources for positive change.
The Ingold native was raised in Sampson County and graduated from Union High School in 1984. His mother, Rebecca Jenkins still lives in Ingold. As a youth, he worked in his grandparent’s tobacco fields.
“Growing up, our mother had us focus on education,” Webster said. “I made an effort to make her proud. She made sure that we knew education was important.”
Although farming gave him a great work ethic, Webster took a different path away from the fields when he enrolled in college. He’s a graduate of North Carolina Central University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Webster is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the clinical mental health counseling program at North Carolina State University.
“More importantly, I realize now that the intersection of poverty, education, and mental health,” Webster said. “That is what I realized a long time ago and that’s why I’m going down this path.”
In addition to helping youth after graduation, he would like to work with people and populations who are often marginalized, such as ethnic minorities and people living in rural areas, where mental health services are typically lacking. He wants to return to Sampson County School’s Union District and Ingold to do so.
This fellowship will allow Webster to extend his research on the school-to-prison pipeline, which he began while completing the Harvard University Administrative Fellowship Program between 2002 and 2003. Webster is involved with ongoing community work with his own organization, BIG S.T.E.P.S. U.P. – “BIG Steps Toward Educational Prosperity and Success Under Pressure” – a comprehensive educational and mentoring program designed to improve academic success and outcomes. BIG STEPS UP also specializes in pre-College, College, and post-College awareness, preparedness, and readiness. The website, bigstepsup.org provides more information.
“If they don’t see the value of education, they may miss a way up and a way out,” Webster said. “That’s what I’m looking to come back and do. With my story, hopefully, it’ll help some youth become successful in life.”
Receipt of this fellowship will help with his goal of outreach and education to racially and ethnically diverse communities about mental health, and removing the stigma surrounding help-seeking for mental health questions and concerns. The fellowship will allow Webster to attend counseling conferences to establish a stronger professional identity as a clinical mental health counselor, learn evidence-based practices to better serve underserved populations, and advocate for the counseling profession.
According to NBCC, the youth program is made possible through a grant awarded to the organization by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in September 2014. The foundation is contracted by NBCC to administer to NBCC MFP-Y, as well as training and collaboration activities, such as webinars available to National Certified Counselors (NCCs). The goal is to reduce health disparities an improve behavioral health care outcome for racially and ethnically diverse populations by increasing the number of available culturally competent behavioral health professionals.
When it comes to helping youths, Webster used the African proverb, “It’s takes a village to raise a child.” Growing up, he had support from his mother, family and Jim Matthews of Matthews Drug Store, who was instrumental in helping him succeed.
“No one ever turned their back on me,” Webster said. “That means more than anything to have that support.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.