Dr. Cyndi Briggs grew up in Roanoke, Virginia and moved to North Carolina for her bachelors (Guilford College) and master's (Wake Forest University) degrees. In between, she worked as a trainer for adults with developmental disabilities, as an addictions counselor, and as a higher education administrator at her alma mater, Guilford. During those years, Cyndi explored her love of travel via a semester abroad in Paris, France, and through three return trips to England, France, and Italy. In 2003, her itch to travel got her going once again, this time to Corvallis, Oregon and Oregon State University where she received her PhD in Counseling. That April, her love of Latin culture took root as she began taking salsa dancing lessons.
Cyndi came to Winona State in the fall of 2006. In the fall of her first year of teaching, Dr. Mary Fawcett invited Cyndi to travel to Antigua, Guatemala to study Spanish. During this trip, Cyndi and Mary were inspired to bring students back to study counseling issues in Guatemala and the rest is history. When not teaching, traveling, or sleeping, Cyndi can usually be found out salsa dancing.
Dr. Mary Fawcett attended the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill for her bachelor’s in psychology, Appalachian State University for her master’s in counseling, and the University of South Carolina for her doctorate in Counselor Education. For eight years, she worked as a licensed professional counselor in college and community settings. She also had a private practice and focused on work with adult and adolescent clients, on developmental issues related to depression, anxiety and PTSD. Mary traveled across the US once during her 20’s and vowed to travel as much as possible around the US and other destinations of interest. With siblings that settled in Los Angeles, CA and Kill Devil Hills, NC she has had the opportunity to visit and explore many places from coast to coast over the last several years.
Mary came to Winona in the fall of 1999 and fell in love with Minnesota! In addition to teaching, she began doing volunteer work career counseling with local Latino high school students. She learned through dissertation research that most minority immigrant students fall behind white students in the areas of achievement, vocational planning and post-secondary education. Mary hopes that she is helping to ‘level the playing field’ for these students in terms of offering support in the areas of vocational planning and academic achievement. Over the course of a few years of working with these amazing students, she fell in love with Spanish language and the Latino cultures. This experience fueled the passion to visit Mexico, Central and South America. So, the journey began when Dr. Cyndi Briggs agreed to travel to Guatemala during the summer of 2007.
During travel to Guatemala, Mary was most impressed with the resiliency that Guatemalan and Mayan people have exhibited through the generations despite the violence and oppression that has occurred on many levels. She was also very eager to learn about the Counselor Education program at Universidad de Valle de Guatemala in Guatemala City. Maria del Pilar (program director) met with Mary and Cyndi and told them about her work to offer graduate counselor training. The graduates of this program work in a variety of mental health settings in Guatemala.
This coming spring (2010) Mary and Cyndi are returning with dedicated and energized students, and look forward to an amazing learning experience for everyone!