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Meet the Members of AMHCA's Graduate Student Committee

By Cheryl D’ La Rotta, GSC Chair, Walden University

There are lots of ways for graduate student members of AMHCA to be meaningfully involved in the work the association does to advance our profession. ALL graduate students are invited to join the Graduate Student Committee (GSC)! 

Please contact any member of the committee to learn about options for your involvement. And consider attending the next AMHCA Annual Conference in July 2013 in Washington, D.C., to get acquainted with AMHCA and meet the members of the Graduate Student Committee in person. 
If you would like to write an article for the Student Corner department of The Advocate, please email me at

Cheryl D’ La Rotta, GSC Chair

Cheryl D’ La Rotta obtained her master’s degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, specializing in Mental Health Counseling, from Walden University. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Counseling Education and Supervision, with a specialization in Forensics at Walden University. 
A registered mental health counselor in the State of Florida, she provides Trauma Recovery Counseling for victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Fla. 

She is now in the process of beginning her private practice, specializing in trauma, family mediation, and consultation. As a student, she is a member of the Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society, the American Counseling Association, and AMHCA’s Florida chapter—the Florida Mental Health Counselors Association (FMHCA). Cheryl is proud to become the new Graduate Student Committee chair and looks forward to expanding her leadership within AMHCA.

April Krowel, GSC Chair–Elect

An Army veteran, April Krowel has a passionate interest in matters concerning military members and veterans and their families. She currently serves as chair-elect of AMHCA’s Graduate Student Committee, and she is a campus representative on the campus advocacy team of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS). She recently served on the Conference Planning Committee of the Indiana Counseling Association (ICA), and as a student representative on the American Counseling Association’s Professional Standards Committee. 

Currently a counseling psychology doctoral student at Ball State University, Krowel’s significant commitment to volunteer service also includes American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health and veteran campus outreach. Her research interests have included college adjustment for student veterans, veterans issues (including substance abuse, interpersonal relationships, and social justice), and trauma.

Kristen Lister, LPC, NCC, Secretary

Kristen Lister obtained her master’s degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Mental Health Counseling from Idaho State University. A licensed professional counselor, she provides personal and career counseling to college students. She previously worked with adolescents in the probation system as well as adults in community mental health settings. Her professional areas of interest include group work, scholarship, gender, and multicultural issues in counseling.

As a student, she was a board member for the Phi Omicron Chi Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society. Over the past year, she has been actively involved with the Idaho Mental Health Counselors Association (IMHCA) in various capacities, and she currently serves as president-elect of IMHCA. She looks forward to expanding her scope of professional service with AMHCA.

Denise Purvis, Midwest Region Liaison

Following graduation from Northern Illinois University in 1996 with a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, Denise Purvis was employed from 1996 to 1999 as an outpatient and inpatient drug/alcohol counselor for an adolescent treatment facility. Later in 1999, she joined the staff of a community hospital working with mental health issues with individuals and families, the employee assistance program, and clients with substance-abuse problems. While working there, she developed the hospital’s outpatient substance-abuse program for adolescents. She continued gaining employment experiences with area community agencies and the hospital until she started her own private practice in 2000. Working as a licensed clinical professional counselor and certified alcohol and other drug counselor, she balances a diverse caseload of families, couples, individuals, adults, elderly, and children. 

Currently she is working towards her doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision with Walden University. She remains grounded in the community as a mother, wife, volunteer, and Girl Scout leader. Her professional goals are to continue her private practice, teach at a university, and mentor other counseling professionals. 

Jason Sadora, Western Region Liaison

Born in LA and raised in Las Vegas, Jason Sadora is an Operation Enduring Freedom veteran, a Special Olympics official, a nationally competitive powerlifter, a Special Education substitute teacher, and a Knights of Columbus member. He currently attends the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for Motor Behavior, and Liberty University for Professional Counseling. His focus is feedback and social cognitive influences on learning. His career goal is to become an occupational therapist and group counselor for soldiers, veterans, and their families. As a GSC liaison, he contributes to the community by raising awareness of mental health counseling, and helps enhance the connection between AMHCA and academic institutions. 

Some interesting facts about Sadora: He was unable to talk clearly until he was 8; now he is fluent in English, Japanese, and Hebrew. His father and sister were both in the military. He had a face-to-face encounter with a brown bear. He is into numismatics; his oldest coin is an 1876 mint quarter. His Motor Behavior degree will be his seventh degree. He loves to dance and has taken classes in ballet, hip-hop, and ballroom. He recently dead-lifted 685 pounds, ranking him in the top 12 in the nation for his bodyweight. 

Xiomara A. Sosa, Southern Region Liaison

A clinical mental health–forensic counselor; a mental health and wellness coach; and a nonprofit executive, Xiomara A. Sosa practices a progressive, innovative path to health by integrating behavioral and primary healthcare. She specializes in anxiety disorders, mood disorders, child-custody evaluation, and divorce mediation. Her expertise is in coming-out and externalized and internalized homophobia. She focuses on coping skills; crisis, trauma, and disaster-recovery; emotional health; family conflict; life and work balance; life coaching; living well; personal growth; and relationships. Her theoretical orientations include coaching, affirmative therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family systems therapy, and solution-focused brief therapy. Her cultural competency is especially focused on working with the Hispanic, veteran, and sexual minority (LGBQT) communities. 

Sosa is bilingual and provides services in private consultation, by telephone, or over the Internet. A Hispanic-American, Sosa considers herself a humanitarian who advocates for physical and mental health and human services. A social entrepreneur, her goal is to promote social policy that protects the wellbeing of all people. She works for social welfare initiatives that effect positive social change through volunteerism and altruism. Her key advocacy issues are prevention and intervention of bullying and suicide. Visit her XAS Consulting, LLC, website.

Erika S. Wheelhouse, North Atlantic Region Liaison

After serving in the Army Medical Corps, Erika Wheelhouse earned her BA in Anthropology from the University of Houston. Her interest in all aspects of human culture and behavior combined with a desire to serve at-risk youth led her to pursue a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology. She is currently working towards her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at Boston College with an emphasis on Adolescent Development. 

In addition to her position as the GSC’s North Atlantic Region liaison, she represented her cohort as a member of Boston College’s Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology Department’s Diversity Committee. She is also an award-winning researcher and author. Wheelhouse’s interests include counseling juvenile offenders, working towards gender and LGBTQ equality, and advocating for at-risk youth on both a community and policy level.