Colin Powell School
From CCNY to Business Owner: Alumna Alice Mills Mai's Pursuit of Mental Health Counseling
Where are you from and what is your background story? Please share your details from the period before you arrived at CCNY.
I am human first before any titles or roles. I am Alice Mills Mai (she/her), a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (New York and Ohio) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). I am an immigrant and a proud daughter of Ghanaian immigrants and I consider the Bronx to be my home. Through a family tragedy, I discovered the profession of counseling which I am devoted to today. My counseling career comes in large part as a gift from my grandmother before she passed away.
As someone currently on a healing journey, I know the significance of counseling and creating sacred healing spaces for individuals. I am no different from the clients I work with. As stated, I am human first and see a therapist weekly. Through my work, I am committed to being unapologetically human and Black, thus the focus on wholeness.
What brought you to CCNY and to the Colin Powell School?
I chose CCNY because it was close to home (Bronx), and the diversity of the student and faculty population encouraged me to pursue my degree there.
What is your passion or purpose behind pursuing what you did at City College?
My passion is creating healing spaces and reducing the stigma around mental health. Through my degree program at CCNY, I developed my career focused on this passion for mental health. I pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from the City College of New York. This degree supported me in my journey to becoming a social entrepreneur, Ph.D. student, consultant, and founder/clinical director of Centering Wholeness Counseling. Centering Wholeness Counseling is a conglomerate of two business entities, Centering Wholeness LLC (for profit) and Embracing Wholeness Community Care (nonprofit). Centering Wholeness Counseling offers convenient and culturally affirming mental wellness services to Black and Brown people. I am also a workplace wellness consultant. I work with organizations to create a belonging and wellness culture in the workplace.
I have most of my experience providing counseling and supervision services within nonprofits, correctional facilities, and private practice. My area of expertise and learning has been working with incarcerated survivors of intimate partner/domestic violence. I am forever indebted to survivors who continue to teach me about humanity, resilience, love, and advocacy. I am a doctoral student studying Counselor Education and Supervision at the University of the Cumberlands. My research areas include supervision, counselor wellness, the intersection of societal structures, and mental health.
Briefly, how has your career unfolded? How did City College and/or the Colin Powell School help you to get where you are in your career?
I graduated with a Bachelor's degree in 2013 from CCNY and then started a MA program at CCNY in Fall 2013. I graduated with a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling in 2016. From there, I worked on accruing my hours for my independent licensure and once I received my license, I transitioned into a supervisory role and started seeing clients in private practice on a part-time basis. I went on to pursue a Ph.D. program shortly after that, in 2019, and in 2021/2022, I developed my mental health practice dedicated to serving Black and Brown people. I credit CCNY for giving me the tools to become a licensed therapist, supervisor, Ph.D. student, and business owner.
Do you have any significant memories or accomplishments from your career or time at City College / Colin Powell School that you would like to share?
One of my significant memories at CCNY is meeting Professor Ackerman during my Women's Studies class. I worked with Professor Ackerman on a few projects, including one at the U.N. and one in South Africa. I was the President of the Mental Health Counseling Club during my time at CCNY, where I had the opportunity to meet people that have become part of my network both professionally and personally.
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
My first piece of advice is to get to know your faculty and colleagues. CCNY is an extensive and diverse community; make use of it. Secondly, do not undervalue your experiences and background; these things make you unique and who you are. Lastly, do not neglect your mental health and self-care while pursuing your degree. Integrate small self-care practices into your day such as 15-minute walks.
What is your current profession / position?
Founder/CEO at Centering Wholeness Counseling
What are your future aspirations for your career?
I aspire to create an international mental wellness brand dedicated to serving and educating Black and Brown people. I am currently a Ph.D. student studying Counselor Education and Supervision. My research areas include workplace wellness, holistic wellness practice, anti-oppressive supervision practices, and incarceration.