Hello, Montana - MSUB Library Lecture Series Segment

September 27, 2022 - 6:30 pm Petro Theater

Increasing resilience and adaptability therefore exploring the value of good health and wellbeing - Dr. Ambrin Masood

Wellbeing and resilience are essential in preventing and reducing the severity of mental health problems. Equipping ourselves with coping skills and protective behavior can help us react positively to change and obstacles in life, allowing greater mental, social, and academic success. Through this presentation, we will learn the value of resilience and adaptability. Together we will assess the techniques for growing our resilience and develop a plan to improve it. We will identify the key features of personal adaptability, assess, and develop a plan to improve it and demonstrate our ability to adapt in different circumstances.


Ambrin F. Masood, PhD is an Associate Professor for the Department of Rehabilitation and Human Services at Montana State University Billings and a Montana licensed school psychologist. She earned her PhD in School Psychology from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Her masters are in Clinical and Experimental Psychology. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a licensed School Psychologist for the state of Montana. She has years of experience in psychological testing as a psychometrician and therapy as a school psychologist. She serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Public Health Issues and Practices and Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology. Her main interest is in cross-cultural research and research on parenting and resiliency in children. She has authored articles in the areas of personality, mental disability, language, and resiliency in youth. She has given back to her community through educating people about resiliency, culture, stereotypes, and prejudice.

View Dr. Masood's presentation - Increasing resilience and adaptability therefore exploring the value of good health and wellbeing

KULR8 Report - MSU Billings Library Hosts a New Lecture Series on Resiliency 


October 4, 2022 - 6:30 pm Petro Theater

Resiliency through Literacy: Practical Ideas from Pre-service and In-service Teachers - Dr. Melanie Reaves

Working with and caring for children who experience trauma is filled with complexity. We often easily recognize trauma in the forms of abuse or neglect, but there is a myriad of other experiences in children’s lives that are difficult and can be traumatic, such as death of a family member, divorce, and even a death of a pet. Teachers and other adults who work with children can draw upon evidence-based strategies for supporting children’s resiliency during life’s difficult experiences. In this session, audience members will interact with a panel of MSUB students who are becoming elementary teachers and practicing elementary teachers around literacy-based resilience-building activities.


Dr. Reaves is an assistant professor in the College of Education. She has a B.S. in history and writing and rhetoric and a Master’s of Teacher Education from Eastern Oregon University. After teaching at the elementary level for 15 years, she obtained a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction—Literacy Education from the University of Wyoming in 2014. Her research focuses on literacy as culture-creator imbued with affective ways of being.

View Dr. Reaves' presentation - Resiliency through Literacy: Practical Ideas from Pre-service and In-service Teachers


October 11, 2022 - 6:30 pm Petro Theater

Resilient Communities - Dr. Paula McMahon

The idea of resilience is everywhere, and it has many different meanings. This discussion panel will explore resilience from multiple perspectives with a panel of students and practitioners providing insight to community experiences, lessons learned and how to build and reinforce each other.


Paula McMahon is the Chair and an Assistant Professor for the Department of Rehabilitation and Human Services at Montana State University, Billings (MSUB). Paula joined the faculty of MSUB in July 2017 after a 5-year career with Virginia Commonwealth University as their Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator (ADA). She teaches courses for students related to human services, individual and family response to disability, ethics, and psychiatric rehabilitation. She has presented numerous times at the national, state, and local level on topics related to rehabilitation counseling and the ADA. Her research interests include transition services for students with disabilities, social justice and advocacy, professional development and identity, community accessibility and integrated employment practices.

Panelist Biographies

Dustan Toth, LCPC, started his career as an elementary education teacher for eight years. Dustan has a passion for working with children with challenging behaviors and their families. He brings a balanced approach to his counseling utilizing his experience in education, behavioral supports, and mental health counseling. He has been trained in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy and has found success in helping caregivers develop positive interactions with their children. Dustan and his husband have adopted five boys from the foster care system, and he draws from this experience to assist others with foster children or children who have experienced trauma.

Rick Watson is 52 years old, and in his last semester in graduate school. He is an Area Director at Youth Dynamics, where he is completing his internship. His goal is to transition to work as a therapist in January 2023. He loves working youth ages 11-18 years old. He is married and his wife is a therapist as well as his son, who is 30 years old and lives in Grand Forks, ND. He has two daughters: 16 & 11 years old and a 1-year-old grandson. He has enjoyed the graduate program through MSU-B and has learned from all his professors.

Paula Bighorn is an enrolled tribal member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes. She is a Montana State University-Billings graduate, having earned a Master’s of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling. Ms. Bighorn is currently living and working in her tribal community, serving as the Health Promotion Disease Prevention Deputy Director. As a healthcare administrator, Ms. Bighorn aims to promote holistic care and improve the quality of life for Fort Peck community members, through leadership that is built on service, compassion, and innovation.

Tara Klena Barthel, JD MBA, is an attorney, mediator, trauma survivor, author, speaker, and grateful wife and mother who encourages redemption in all areas of life. Currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling degree program at Montana State University Billings, Tara’s professional goals upon graduation include: continuing to research, write, and help people and organizations that are in conflict, especially conflicts involving trauma, abuse, addiction, mental illness (such as narcissism and PTSD). She also plans to write and teach on topics that are particularly personal to her and important in current society: persons with non-typical neurological diversity, chronic pain, hidden disabilities, and obesity.

Leah Hooten is a veteran who served in the military for 8 years.  She enlisted in the Navy after high school, and later received a commission as an Army Intelligence Officer.  She also worked as an Intelligence Research Specialist for the U.S. Marshals Service before moving to Billings, MT 4 years ago.  Leah is currently attending MSUB in pursuit of a master's degree in Mental Health and Clinical Rehabilitation.  She is married to a fellow Army veteran and has two young  children.

View the discussion panel on Resilient Communities


October 18, 2022 - 6:30 pm Petro Theater

Adverse Childhood Experiences and Resiliency - Robin Cormier

“Trauma is the invisible force that shapes our lives,” Dr. Gabor Mate` (2021).  Childhood trauma comes in many forms and can have a lasting effect on the physical and mental health of people of all ages. It can result from a single event or through repeated exposure over time. It can happen in any culture or socioeconomic group. Childhood trauma has the potential to shape how an individual feels, thinks, and behaves. Through the presentation, the audience will learn key concepts related to childhood trauma, develop a better understanding of the effects of childhood trauma on behavior and long-term physical and mental health, and will learn how to strengthen resiliency after trauma.


Robin Cormier is an Assistant Professor of School Counseling at MSUB. She has been an educator for 26 years. She has worked as a teacher, guidance counselor, behavior intervention coach. She has a Doctorate ABD in curriculum, assessment, and design from Walden University, a M.Ed. in educational technology from Lesley University, a M.Ed. in school counseling from MSUB, an endorsement in English second language from Southern Utah University, an endorsement in early childhood education from MSUB, and an undergraduate degree in elementary education from MSUB. Robin has been an active member of the Billings community for the past 22 years. She has raised three sons while working with students, families, and educators across the Billings School District and MSUB. She is passionate about the mental health and well-being of all children, families, and educators, specifically regarding trauma and resiliency.

View Ms. Cormier's presentation - Adverse Childhood Experiences and Resiliency


October 25, 2022 - 6:30 pm Petro Theater

Growing Through Change that Never Ends: Developmental stages in life and work - Dr. Aaron Mertes

We’ve all heard the saying, “once you get the hang of it, it changes.”  We know this.  We know that kids learn to walk at a certain age and that something seems to be happening that leads to a ‘mid-life crisis’ around 40ish.  What we know less about are some of the other ideas about development including how our relationship to work changes as we grow, even into retirement.  We have less of an understanding about moral development and the general maturing process over our lives.  We all can sometimes ‘tell’ a good moral decision from a bad one or a mature vs. immature person, but our guides about how these operate are less clear.  This presentation will talk about some of the most popular developmental stage models that guide counselors in their work, as well as people who want to learn to embrace change as it inevitably happens across the lifespan.


Aaron is a Rehabilitation Counselor and a Certified life care planner and lives in Billings, MT with his wife, son, and two dogs.  He graduated with his master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from St. Cloud State University in 2015 and with his PhD in Counselor Education from The University of Iowa in 2019.  He began his professional career working with people with intellectual disabilities in a work-readiness program after working in several other areas such as residential living, job coaching, and special education.  During his education he worked in an inpatient psychiatric hospital, as a community crisis counselor, and as a private mental health therapist.  Most recently he has been working as a private consultant for the Veteran’s Administration while also teaching classes in undergraduate human service and graduate rehabilitation counseling.  He is particularly interested in career development and understanding the long-term care needs of people with disabilities.  He is currently the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Life Care Planning.

View Dr. Mertes presentation - Growing Through Change that Never Ends: Developmental Stages in Life and Work