man in black graduation regalia, standing outside
Once he began his master's degree in counseling at Augusta University, Randy LaMons realized how important — and how easily applicable — his skills as a personal trainer are to the counseling profession. [Michael Holahan/Augusta University]

Graduation Week 2022: Counselor education grad celebrates both physical and mental wellness

Randy LaMons is passionate about wellness, both physical and mental, which led him to the Master of Education in Counselor Education program offered by the College of Education and The Graduate School at Augusta University.

During his undergraduate career, where he studied public relations at Georgia Southern University, he realized he had a knack for communication and connecting with others. Friends and colleagues thought he was calming and easy to talk to, said LaMons, a native of Grovetown, Georgia.

This translated well to one of his main passions: personal training. After graduation, he worked for about three years as both a personal trainer at the Grovetown YMCA and at his brother-in-law’s behavioral health practice. Realizing, thanks to both of these roles, that he had a talent for counseling others, he began applying to counselor education programs to further his career. He’d already been accepted to his undergrad alma mater’s program when he got an interview at Augusta University.

“I was debating whether I should even come to this interview because I already got into a place, but I was like, ‘Let me just go and act like there’s nothing else on the table for me.’ Best decision,” he said.

He clicked with the interviewing faculty right away.

“We really just connected. I appreciated even that day, after first meeting them, the level of care that they showed already.”

He also remembers how a certain faculty member fought for him during the recruitment process.

His undergraduate GPA, a 2.49, was just below the acceptance criteria for most master’s counseling programs (typically 2.50 and above). Despite being well received at his interview, he knew it was a factor that could hold him back.

But Dr. Meredith Rausch, an associate professor who served on his panel of interviewers, called him just 30 minutes after the interview to express the program’s interest in him. Still, she’d mentioned that his GPA might pose an issue — which led LaMons to think he should accept Georgia Southern’s offer.

But Rausch wasn’t through yet. In the days following that interview, she contacted the dean of the College of Education herself to advocate for LaMons’s acceptance.

“I was like, ‘I don’t even know this woman and she’s fighting so hard for me right now.’ And that’s really the thing that swayed my decision to come here,” he said.

man in blue collared shirt standing outside
Randy LaMons on the Augusta University Summerville Campus. [Michael Holahan/Augusta University]
“The amount of care that she showed really showed me that type of relationship with a professor is possible to have — and it’s OK to have,” he said. “And people actually do care about me as a person, professional and student. They don’t care just because I’m here right now; they care because they actually care.”

Once he began his program at Augusta University, he realized how important — and how easily applicable — his skills as a personal trainer are to the counseling profession.

“What I learned while training were those transferable skills,” he said. “Training and counseling almost go hand in hand: just that physical side versus that mental side.”

And as he progressed further into his program, he found that he liked the mission of his work even more than he thought he would.

“I’ve really found something that I’m passionate about and that I love to learn more about, and this is the first time I’ve felt that as a professional, outside of working out — because fitness will always be my first love,” he said.

In addition to his wellness mission, LaMons is also passionate about uplifting young people in the community. In his spare time, LaMons co-manages a scholarship foundation called Be the Change, which he founded with a high school friend in 2019. The foundation awards scholarships to high school seniors at Harlem High School and Grovetown High School.

Read more: Augusta University student Randy LaMons and former classmate help future college freshmen with new scholarship

So far, they’ve been able to award 10 students a total of $9,000.

In his spare time, he interns for Augusta University’s Student Counseling and Psychological Services — a role he’s held since fall 2021. His experience there has inspired him to pursue college-level counseling full time.

“I really have found a passion for college counseling specifically, because it’s not just counseling,” he said. “I have the opportunity to go out to classes and give presentations, do weekly workshops, do tabling events — but at the end of the day we can do group counseling, individual counseling, couples counseling. So I’m getting to fill all those needs that I care about as a student and as a professional.”

His favorite part of counseling students is what he calls the “aha moment.”

“It’s that connection that we make together in the session. Because it is a relationship; it’s a two-way thing. It’s not just me advising them and them venting to me the whole time. It’s us coming together and having a conversation about their experiences, and why they are the way they are. So just that moment when we make that connection in session — it’s cool for me to see, too.”

As he closes out his program and reflects on the last two and a half years he’s spent at Augusta University, he’s bittersweet, knowing he’ll miss his peers and faculty.

“It’s just been such a good time getting to know these people. And I’m sad that we won’t be able to see each other every week anymore. But it’s that bittersweet moment of like, we’re about to evolve into that next phase.”

With graduation approaching, he remembers that day almost three years ago when he took a chance on Augusta University.

“I wouldn’t change anything about it. I’m so happy I came to the interview,” he said with a laugh.

Learn more about LaMons’s scholarship foundation, Be the Change.

Augusta University’s Spring 2022 Commencement ceremonies will be held Thursday, May 12 and Friday, May 13. Thursday’s ceremony will honor graduate students, and Friday’s ceremonies will honor undergraduate students. Watch the events via livestream.

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Written by
Paige Fowler

Paige Fowler is an editorial associate for Communications and Marketing at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at pfowler@augusta.edu.

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Written by Paige Fowler

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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