Alumni Spotlight

Decades of Devotion Lead to Continued Success for OU Counseling Alumna

After more than 22 years as an educator, OU counseling alumna Angie Niforos continues to raise the bar for herself and her students.

With five academic degrees under her belt, Oakland University alumna Angie Niforos has dedicated her career to bettering the lives of youth, both as a teacher and, more recently, a counselor. (Photo Credit: James Silvestri)

icon of a calendarMarch 5, 2021

icon of a pencilBy Trevor Tyle

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Angie Niforos knows a thing or two about the importance of education. She’s spent the entirety of her professional career furthering her own education while working in schools to advocate for students and their families.

“Throughout my high school and college years I enjoyed working with youth,” she said. “After working in various roles — tutor, camp counselor, resident adviser, residence hall director — I decided to pursue a career in education.”

Upon receiving both her bachelor’s degree in English and master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Michigan, Niforos taught at the Center for Occupational and Personalized Education (COPE) and Brother Rice High School. However, she ultimately felt that she could better serve the needs of her students as a counselor.

“After being a secondary English and social studies teacher for several years and wanting to do more to support student needs, it felt like a natural progression to move into a career in school counseling,” she said. “I especially feel strongly about the importance of the school counselor supporting the mental health needs of students.”

Niforos eventually pursued two more academic degrees — a master of arts in guidance and counseling and an Ed.S. in educational leadership and administration — from Eastern Michigan University. With four degrees under her belt, she accepted a position as a counselor in the Grosse Pointe Public School System, where she has worked for the past 22 years.

In 2010, she decided to take her academic endeavors a step further, pursuing a Ph.D. in counseling from Oakland University, which she completed in 2016. Although it marks her fifth academic degree, Niforos said earning a Ph.D. was particularly special because it strengthened her skills while allowing her to fulfill one of her personal and professional goals.

“Oakland’s counseling program strengthened my skills in a number of areas related to child and adolescent counseling,” she said. “The research skills and therapeutic techniques I learned have added great value to what I could offer.”

During her time at OU, Niforos interned under Professor Christine Summerell with the master’s level School Counseling and Consultation classes while conducting research focused on middle school counseling. Her research culminated in her doctoral dissertation, Middle School Counselors’ Use of Academic Interventions to Enhance Student Success

According to Niforos, she found OU particularly appealing because of the guidance and support she received from the counseling professors in her time as a Ph.D. student. She cited her dissertation chair and adviser, Dr. Lisa Hawley, as a major influence, while also expressing gratitude for the rest of her dissertation committee — Drs. Robert Fink, Julia Smith and Todd Leibert.

Niforos is currently a counselor at Brownell Middle School. In her role, she is responsible for providing and maintaining a comprehensive program that serves the academic, social and emotional needs of students, as well as career and college planning.

“Building relationships with my students and collaborating with my colleagues to ensure that students have their academic and social/emotional needs met is my top priority,” Niforos said. “I am passionate about my profession and the impact school counselors have in advocating for students and families.”

In recent years, Niforos was responsible for helping Brownell become one of only five schools in the state to earn the Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) designation from the American School Counselor Association. Inspired by the achievement, Niforos became a RAMP reviewer to learn about the efforts of other school counseling programs across the country. She eventually returned to OU as a guest speaker to educate graduate students about the process of receiving the RAMP designation as well.

The Michigan School Counselor Association also recently honored Niforos for her work by naming her the 2020 Michigan School Counselor of the Year. She has credited her education from OU with helping her to achieve this distinction and fulfill other long-term professional goals.

“The OU doctorate program not only further prepared me for my current role, but established a strong foundation for my future plans of possibly teaching at the college level or going into private practice,” Niforos said.

For additional information on the counseling programs available at OU, visit

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