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Meet Nicole Cross: Austin Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Director

by South University
May 14, 2018 Learn how Dr. Nicole Cross has successfully built a career combining counseling and psychology with journalism, and what motivates her to teach and mentor at South University, Austin. http://www.southuniversity.edu/whoweare/newsroom/blog/meet-nicole-cross-austin-clinical-mental-health-counseling-program-director
An image of several South University nursing students.  The image has the National Nurses Week 2018 logo in the right corner.  It reads nurses inspire, innovate, influence.

Dr. Nicole Cross is the type of person whose positivity, excitement, and passion for her work is immediately apparent and contagious from the minute you meet her.

"I love any opportunity that allows me to communicate with and educate others, whether it is public or motivational speaking, counseling, consulting, coaching, teaching, or journalism," she says. "When I can talk with other people, when I can help someone and support them in making important life decisions, that is when I'm the happiest."

Establishing a Successful Career & Expertise in Counseling

Today an accomplished journalist, educator, and mental health professional, Dr. Cross initially began her career focused on counseling. After earning a bachelor's in psychology and speech communications, a master’s in behavioral sciences, and a PhD in counselor education, Dr. Cross practiced in both private clinics and various public health agencies. Her career highlights include serving as the Texas Southern University Director of the Office of University Counseling, Career, and Disability Services and later as the Director of Counseling and Behavioral Health for The Potter's House of Dallas (a 30,000 member megachurch led by Pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes).

On the side, Dr. Cross served as a relationship expert for a Houston radio show and, in time, became an in-demand speaker at conferences, seminars, and events on effective communication practices, self-improvement, and relationships. She even found time to teach college courses online and in person.

Bridging Psychology, Health, & Journalism

By 30, Dr. Cross was happy with her success, yet was unsure of her next move up in counseling. Instead, she decided to recommit to her interest in journalism—something she first remembers exploring as part of her middle school newspaper. "You've got Dr. Oz and you've got Dr. Phil," she says. "Why not Dr. Cross?"

After studying broadcast journalism at the New York Film Academy, which later named her a distinguished alumni, Dr. Cross began working as a news anchor and health reporter. She started a “Healthy Living with Dr. Nicole” show and later hosted a personal health program featuring local health professionals. Most recently, in Austin, she led the popular Wellness Wednesday segment, educating viewers on how to talk to children about topics like friendships, relationships, and cyberbullying.

Since becoming a journalist in 2013, Dr. Cross has earned awards that include four Associated Press awards and an Emmy nomination for Breaking News Coverage. “I took a major risk trying something new, not knowing if I would sink or swim,” she says. “Those awards bring to life my philosophy that all things are possible. I use it as a testimonial to anyone willing to risk trying something new. The same rules apply: if you work hard, it will pay off.”

Returning to the Classroom

While anchoring in Austin, Dr. Cross began teaching at South University and soon found herself wanting to get more involved in the program; education is something Dr. Cross has always felt strongly about.

"The moments in my life that helped me and motivated me, as much as it was my family, it was also those educators who went the extra mile to keep me on the right path," she says. "I want to be that for someone. I want to be the reason someone works that much harder. Gets that extra degree or challenges themselves to go further than they expected or further than they've been exposed to in their personal lives."

In 2018, Dr. Cross became the Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Director at South University, Austin and is enjoying educating a new generation of counselors. "I'm at this stage in life when it's about significance and meaningfulness and purpose," she says. "It's about me being a change agent for others, and as Program Director I can do that."

Discover Our Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MA) Program

Interested in a career in Clinical Mental Health Counseling? This Master of Arts degree program can help you prepare, allowing you to explore the theories, principles, and dynamic applications in the field, get training in effective assessment and treatment practices, study the significance of research in the field, and gain competence in ethical, legal, and professional standards. Request information or learn more today.

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