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My name is Justin Curran and I was born and raised in Tucson, AZ.  I attended the University of Arizona for undergraduate school and Northern Arizona for graduate school, receiving my Masters in School Counseling in 2011.  Though I am passionate about my profession and helping students succeed, I define myself by the other passions that I have been fortunate to experience in my personal life. 

I married my lovely wife two years ago and we are parents to two pugs who think that they are humans; we are working on bringing a real human into the world.  My competitiveness pushed me to coach Varsity Basketball for the last decade, I continue to play basketball and strength train but I also appreciate self-reflection so hiking, reading, and playing/listening to music help me balance and calm my mind.  I ride all types of boards- snowboards in the winter, surfboards in the summer and longboards when it’s nice outside.  I volunteer at A Light Network, a local non-profit dedicated to helping ill children and within the last year I have taught myself and started a screen-printing side business.  My family and friends are priorities to me and when this life is done, I hope to have made an impact on my community.
I am seeking an opportunity to serve on the AZSCA Board of Directors to further support the School Counseling Profession as well as promote and represent the work that School Counselors do in a meaningful and impactful way.

I want to continue to grow and develop my leadership skills and the opportunity to do so while serving on a committee with like-minded professionals and honoring the job that I am passionate about is an opportunity that I look forward to.

I am confident that if selected, I can contribute and be part of the team that can improve and evolve Arizona's Counseling Association.
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My name is Angel McSwain and I am the counselor at Desert Meadows in Laveen. I come all the way from the metro Atlanta, GA area where I have been a school counselor for many years. This will be my 21st year in education, my 20th year as a school counselor and my first year as a counselor in AZ. I have worked with students from PreK to 8th grade and I absolutely love it! Counseling is not just my job, it’s my passion, it’s my ministry!

I have my B.S. degree in criminal justice and my M.S. degree in school counseling. I believe that my degrees opened the door for me as a counselor, but the experiences & training I have gained over the years, professionally & personally, have truly prepared me to work with and help others. There is no greater satisfaction than helping others to reach their full potential.

I have had the privilege of raising three unique children with my awesome husband, Dexter, who is also a school counselor. Through my experiences of raising our children, Christian, Christopher & Charity who are all “adults”, I have a greater understanding of the importance of connecting with my students. Building Healthy Relationships has been one of my primary themes for over 10 years, and I believe this focus has allowed me to bridge the gap between all facets of relationships. I will continue to strive building healthy relationships within every organization I work.
My goal as a school counselor is to help all students reach their full potential in all areas of life. As a member of the AZ Board of Directors, I would advocate that all school counselors be afforded the opportunity to use their knowledge, skills and abilities through the implementation of a comprehensive guidance program, including college & career readiness lessons and activities. This can only be achieved through awareness of the school counselors roles and impact on student achievement, as well as collaboration with leaders who make critical decisions for educators and students throughout Arizona.
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Brenda Vargas is a natural born leader who advocates for students and the critical need for more professional school counselors daily. Her current position as the Director of Counseling and Social Services for the Chandler Unified School District provides her with significant opportunities to advocate for our profession. Brenda is responsible for leading all school counselors and social workers district wide. She has developed procedures, regulations, and training used throughout all K-12 schools allowing professional school counselors to promote student wellness, mental health and provide information and resources to students, parents, and staff. She has provided researched based suicide prevention training for all staff in contact with students including certified staff, classified staff and administrators. As a member of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, and the Chandler Education Foundation, Brenda connects with key supporters of professional school counselor efforts. Through her active participation in community leadership activities, she has built collaborative partnerships to support students. Before being named to this role in 2018, Brenda was the assistant high school principal with oversight and responsibility for the Special Education and Career and Technical Education department ensuring that all students received a well-rounded and engaging curriculum driven by student interest and learning opportunities. She credits this role with teaching her that the impossible can be achieved by remaining grounded in what students, staff and parents need, having a willingness to have courageous conversations and blending in a dose of healthy self-awareness with unstoppable faith to achieve the impossible. 

Ms. Vargas’s career spans nearly 20 years, 16 years of which have been at Chandler Unified, where she has grown and evolved from teacher, to counselor, to administration. Ms. Vargas earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and certificate in School Counseling and a Bachelor’s of Science in Special Education from Cleveland State University in Ohio.  Additionally, she is a certified trainer for Mental Health First Aid and ASIST (suicide prevention).
Even though I grew up in the US, Puerto Rico and Ohio, English was not my first language.  Growing up you see I saw the world very differently than most I lived between 2 cultures as my identity. For example, owning a pair of blue jeans was a rite of passage of being American, something I did not have. Although I struggled in school, as I got older I was met with the help of kind school counselors. I was placed in classes that assisted and challenged me.  When the cultural differences were overwhelming, they provided a safe place for me to go. These strong figures encouraged me, listened to me, and empowered me to go after my dreams and achieve my goals.  All these years later, I still consider these counselors personal heroes.  In part because of their dedication, I am the first person in my family to graduate from college and obtain an advanced degree.  I have always been inspired to work in education; these strong role models, and the students I serve inspire me to be a part of this board.

Today more than ever, our students need advocates, support and safety.  Our profession is uniquely positioned to carry student voices beyond the school level.  Student needs are constantly changing and during the unusual circumstance of 2020, we know more than ever how much professional school counselors are needed.

Every student has a story.  We are the front line of hearing, understanding, and responding to those stories, whether it is a class change, suicidal thinking or struggling to navigate school/world, we make a difference.  We can empower these students!  And, we can empower others to support us.