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Franchesca Garza-FraireIn celebration of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, the College of Education is highlighting some outstanding Asian American students. Read on to learn more about Franchesca Garza-Fraire, a Counseling and Counselor Education doctoral student whose research focuses on a pedagogical tool called Currere and its application in the counselor education setting.

What is your background and what brought you to TCU? 

I am the daughter of a Japanese mother and Mexican American father. I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas and moved to Fort Worth in 2000 to attend TCU and work with Fort Worth ISD. I completed a M.Ed. in Counseling in 2002 at TCU, and in 2003 we moved back to El Paso—in 2011, we came back to Fort Worth. I've worked as a teacher and counselor with all grade levels in the district, and have worked in public education since 1997.  

In 2017, I started my Ph.D. at TCU. After completing coursework, I went back to work as a High School Academic Counselor for Eagle Mountain Saginaw ISD. I have also worked in private practice since 2017 as a clinical mental health therapist. I am currently working on my dissertation, just completed data collection, and plan to defend in September 2022. 

What’s your favorite thing about your program at TCU?  

I am in the Counseling and Counselor Education Ph.D. program; my favorite thing was the opportunity to work in a practical way with the M.Ed. students in Counseling and Special Education. I was a TA for the Special Education professors and completed my practicum in the Counseling department. Dr. Lindo, Dr. Strickland-Cohen, and Dr. Stark have been wonderful mentors, teachers, and encouragers.  

Teaching and supervising students as part of the program has been excellent experience for future work in higher education. I also had the opportunity to complete my research internship at the Karyn Purvis Institute.  Partnering in research with multiple departments and programs made way for new perspectives and learning opportunities which ultimately led to my dissertation topic. TCU offered me many opportunities to build relationships for personal and academic growth. 

Tell us about your research. How did you become interested in it, why is it important? 

My work with my Asian sisters/scholars helped me see the value for curriculum that invites students to tell their stories and grow in self-awareness regarding their social and cultural identity. My research examines the use of a pedagogical tool, a reflective practice called Currere, to see what benefits it might have in the Counselor Education setting with specific interest in multicultural and social awareness, responsiveness, and advocacy-related skill development. 

What’s the best part about being a Horned Frog?  

The best part of being a Horned Frog are the friends I have made. I honestly would not have much of an awareness regarding my Asian identity if I had not met the Asian scholars from TCU and participated in the Unasianness Currere presentation in 2019. I have made lifelong friends in the counseling department too. I currently share office space with a TCU doctoral candidate and graduate for our clinical practices. My personal, professional, and research community will continue to be a highly valued part of my life. 

What’s next? 

I will defend my dissertation in September if all goes as planned. I was just hired by the University of Mary as an Assistant Professor in their Counseling program. I begin in June after the end of this school year. I will miss public education but look forward to working in higher education with the next generation of counselors. Thankfully, I have a nice transition and will be teaching Practices in School Counseling this summer. I am beyond excited to enter this new season of my career where my professional experience, practice and research will inform my work with students.  

One day I hope to write a book. This has been a dream for me since I was a little girl. I never knew what the content would be; now, I have some ideas. To be continued…