ENMU Graduate Student Aspires to Be a Counselor that Advocates for Marginalized Groups

Brianna Nicole Gilligan
Brianna Nicole Gilligan

ENMU Graduate Student Aspires to Be a Counselor that Advocates for Marginalized Groups

Brianna Nicole Gilligan graduated summa cum laude from Eastern New Mexico University with bachelor's degrees in music education and music performance in spring 2021. She is now pursuing a Master of Arts in Counseling from ENMU.

The graduate student shares details on her Eastern Experience and her dream of helping marginalized groups in her future career.

brianna gilligan with boyfriend
Brianna with her boyfriend, Scott Hause.

Why did you choose your field of study?

I decided to pursue a Master of Arts in Counseling because I am a strong advocate for mental health and believe it is essential for people to be seen, heard and loved. Being a pragmatic listener and learning peoples' stories is how I connect with others, so I figured, why not make it my career?

What do you hope to pursue as a career? What do you hope to ultimately achieve in your career?

As a minority, I aspire to be a counselor that strongly advocates for marginalized groups. I want to serve all people in different places and emphasize my work to help every person, no matter their background. My preference would be telehealth to spend more time with my family and eventually travel.

What other dreams do you have?

I want to become better at sewing and learn how to tailor clothes. I also dream of being an entrepreneur on the side and repurposing furniture to sell back to the community. Lastly, I dream of being a proficient piano player. I took classes and lessons at ENMU; I need to continue and keep playing.

Tell us about your family and background.

I was born in Seattle, Washington, but my parents moved my two older brothers out to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to obtain college degrees from New Mexico State University in 2004. My parents became registered nurses, and so did my older brother. My oldest brother is in the Navy working as a recruiter in Ventura, California, and also intends to become a registered nurse.

I lived in Las Cruces from 2004 until I came to Portales in August of 2016. I have a lovely boyfriend, Scott Hause, who is also a student at ENMU. Together, we have a Rottweiler named Tilly; she is three years old.

Why did you choose to attend ENMU?

I wanted to go to a college that was safe and affordable and far away from where I grew up (but still in-state). After attending Girls State at ENMU in 2015, I became very interested in this university; I just needed to find a way to get there. ENMU is 273 miles away from Las Cruces, but I managed to register for classes whenever I was a counselor for Girls State in 2016.

During this time, Mr. Seifert served as a great recruiter. He made sure I knew that ENMU had a fantastic music program, and he was absolutely correct. I finalized my decision when Mr. Seifert had Dr. Gamble call me and say, "well, I've never done this before. Eastern New Mexico University is a fantastic university, and we would love to have you here." I had to come; it was perfect!

My undergraduate experience was phenomenal. I knew I had to come back to ENMU for graduate school because of the great memories, excellent professors and welcoming community.

brianna gilligan dog
Brianna's Rottweiler, Tilly.

What is your favorite part about being a Greyhound?

There are so many things to love about being a Greyhound. The colors, the fight song, the spirit and the success! It is a complete honor to be a Greyhound. Go Hounds!

Which academic honors have you had at ENMU?

My undergraduate GPA was 3.9. I have a 4.0 graduate GPA. I've been on the dean's list since fall 2016.

I am a recipient of the Minority Graduate Fellowship. I am 50% Filipino, 25% Mexican and 25% Irish.

My undergraduate scholarships include the Instrumental Performance Scholarship (2016-2020) and several Foundation scholarships: Lorraine Schula Endowed Scholarship in Music, 2017-2018; University Friends of Music Scholarship: 4-time finalist and scholarship winner in 2018, 2019 and 2020; Gillian Buchanan Scholarship, 2019-2020; Reid Allen Isler Memorial Scholarship, 2019-2020; Wells Fargo Scholarship for Education Majors, fall 2020; Smartnick Family Scholarship, 2020-2021; M.G. and Audrey Hunt Scholarship, spring 2021; and the C.B. Wivel Scholarship, spring 2021.

Awards I've received include CBDNA Southwestern Division Intercollegiate Band Participant (2020), ENMU Department of Music Outstanding Undergraduate in Instrumental Music Education (2019 and 2020), Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity Outstanding Junior and Outstanding Bandsmen (2019) and Student Research and Creativity Conference Presentation Winner (presented with Cameron Abeyta) for "The History of the Euphonium & Tuba" (2019).

Are you working on any research or academic projects like presentations at conferences?

I am currently refining a research proposal about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on college students' experiences with computer technology, which I wrote in my Research Seminar class in the fall 2021 semester with Dr. Evaniuck. I will present this at the 2022 Student Research and Creativity Conference.

Which activities have you been involved with outside of the classroom?

Currently, I am a graduate assistant in the ENMU College of Education and Technology Counseling Office. I help coordinate Mental Health Monday events and will volunteer at the New Mexico Counseling Association Conference in April 2022.

I am fortunate enough to be an alumna of Kappa Kappa Psi, National Honorary Band Fraternity.

I spent my undergraduate days volunteering, cleaning instruments, teaching classes and volunteering to help move people into their dorms and houses. I also want to volunteer with The Trevor Project, but I am on the waitlist.

Where is your favorite place on the ENMU campus?

My favorite place on the ENMU campus is my workplace, the College of Education and Technology Counseling Office. It is a welcoming, comfortable place, and I love having a safe place to work productively. This building has an extraordinary atmosphere, and my coworkers are wonderful.

brianna gilligan selfie

Which professors have helped mentor you during your time at ENMU?

My first mentor at ENMU was Mr. Dustin Seifert, chair of the Department of Music and director of Bands. As a music student, he fostered an environment that helped me understand the importance of music and perform to the best of my ability.

Mr. Seifert also encouraged me to find joy in the hidden meanings and history, which is why I love music! He inspired me to grow into the person I am today and has the kindest heart; he will always be my mentor.

Another mentor I have at ENMU is Dr. Bryan Moffitt, assistant professor of Counseling and graduate coordinator. His love for people and his devotion to mental health are uplifting and motivating. Meeting with him solidified my decision to be a counselor.

What has been your favorite class at ENMU?

My favorite class at ENMU is Wind Symphony, taught by Mr. Seifert and Dr. Shuler. Band rehearsals have always been a special place where the world stops, and I can focus on music and listening to others.

The ENMU Wind Symphony performs concerts, which are the only phenomena that make me feel genuinely elevated and euphoric. I spent my undergraduate years playing the tuba, my main instrument.

After I graduated in May 2021, Mr. Seifert kindly invited me to continue and play the horn during my graduate studies. This class is challenging, structured and filled with great musicians; I absolutely love it.

What advice would you give to students who are interested in your field of study?

Counseling is an excellent field with many opportunities! There are many different populations one can work with, such as geriatrics, kids/teenagers, adults, adults with disabilities, couples and more.

Also, counselors can work at many places, including but not limited to prisons, community health, schools, hospitals, private practice and telehealth!

If you are interested in mental health and helping people, this field is for you.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy reading, taking baths and hanging out/walking with my Rottweiler, Tilly! I also love to paint and try new cuisines with my boyfriend, Scott.

Brianna's brother Josh, her dad, Mark, her mom, Annabelle, Brianna and her brother Matthew. On the bottom is her parent's dog, Tank.
brianna gilligan family