The Helping Professions Association (HPA) is off to a great start this semester, as they held their first event of the semester—last week. The club set up an event to help promote and spread awareness for suicide prevention and mental illness. HPA set-up an awareness program called the ABAC Zero Suicide Committee, that gave out different color beads representative of a wearer’s connection to suicide.

HPA is intended for those interested in jobs or careers in the fields such as psychology, counseling, sociology, or any field dealing with human services. The members of HPA have numerous opportunities to tour both the community and social agencies, conduct mentored research and present their findings at professional conferences. HPA students stay active within in the community, and during student, trips network with professionals, other students, and participate in panels discussions involved with.

The HPA recently took students to Wisconsin, for The Rural Sociological Society Conference, where they were able to network. In the past, HPA has also taken students to tour Valdosta State’s Marriage and Family Therapy Family Works Clinic. They have also toured Jacob’s Ladder, an equestrian therapy agency. Members of HPA have also had opportunities to be professionally trained. Earlier this year students participated in Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) Suicide Prevention training. Through these trips and conferences, students gain connections and explore potential career paths. This year the club will be going back to the Suicide Prevention Coalition Conference in Callaway Gardens. They also hope to feature more guest speakers, focus on member’s interests: such as educational counseling, non-profit counseling and working with the elderly and veterans.

HPA is still working to set an official meeting time, but for now, it is 11:30 am. The current president of the club is Laura Starnes, and the advisors are Jewrell Rivers and Suzanne Smith. If a student wishes to be notified when meetings for HPA are they can contact Rivers at or Smith at

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