A&M-Commerce graduate student Brad Chilcote gifted the first-ever professorship in counseling to the university in February.
Chilcote and his wife, Candy Chilcote, visited the campus on February 14 to sign the gift agreement.
The Chilcote Professorship in Counseling will fund faculty research and initiatives to address mental health needs in the East Texas region.
“I wanted to contribute for the benefit of the counseling department, and I wanted to do something that would have a long-lasting effect,” Chilcote said. “The professorship endowment does that.”
Chilcote previously worked in IT and management for the American Heart Association and as a self-employed career coach. Retiring in 2014, Chilcote remained active as a volunteer business mentor and provided career services to A&M-Commerce students as an executive-in-residence for the College of Business. In 2016, he emerged from retirement to become a full-time career coach in the Career Development Department at A&M-Commerce.
Chilcote enjoyed his role as a career coach so much that he decided to pursue a career in mental health counseling. In 2017, he enrolled in the Master of Science in Counseling program at A&M-Commerce.
Throughout his graduate studies, Chilcote became increasingly interested in serving the older adult community, a rapidly growing segment of the U.S. population that is underserved by the mental health services industry. According to Chilcote, gerontological counselors can help older adults navigate a myriad of losses in their lives.
“As an older adult, you’re losing friends; you’re losing family; you’re losing your career; many times, you’re losing your home,” Chilcote said.
After his May 2020 graduation, Chilcote hopes to pursue gerontological counseling opportunities. Chilcote also hopes the endowment will help the Department of Counseling more fully address mental health needs among older adult populations, especially in rural areas.
He intends that the professorship will continue the legacy of his parents, Wilbur (Bill) and Blanche Chilcote, who helped others in ways that enabled them to grow and become more productive members of society.
Chilcote’s father taught him a valuable lesson: “When you’re able to be philanthropic, do it in a way that’s either a seed or something that will grow,” Chilcote said. “And by all means, do something that will help people to become fishermen, not just eat the fish.”
According to A&M-Commerce Provost John Humphreys, the Chilcote Professorship in Counseling will be an impactful building block for the counseling department.
“This will be a start,” he said. “We will take this as a jumping-off point and build on this. Not only will this endowment be here for years to come, but the things that follow it will be directly attributable to it.”
Dr. Zaidy MohdZain, counseling department head, expressed appreciation for the professorship on behalf of his department.
“This gift will enable our faculty, staff and students to continue working to serve rural populations. We are very grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Brad Chilcote for their generosity and empowerment,” he said.