Nieto named Saint Martin’s College Faculty Of The Year

May 9, 2005

Lacey, Wash. – Prof. Leticia Nieto, Ph.D., who teaches in the Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology (MAC) Program at Saint Martin’s College, is the 2005 recipient of the Monks of Saint Martin’s Abbey Outstanding Faculty Award.

The award was established in 1994 by the Saint Martin’s monastic community as a symbol of support for the college’s faculty and for excellence in teaching. It carries with it a $1,500 award.

In addition to 16 years of teaching psychotherapy at Saint Martin’s, Nieto is known for her work in expressive arts therapy, diversity issues and community activism, Prof. Godfrey Ellis said. Ellis is director of the MAC program.

“Although it is an individual achievement, it reflects very well on the entire program and brings credibility to the work we do as a team,” Ellis said. “The students deeply sense her commitment to them and to the learning process. We are lucky to have her at the college – she could teach anywhere.”

Nieto said she was very surprised that she received the honor during the Saint Martin’s Convocation on April 26.

“I had gone to witness a student I know getting an award. I was completely unprepared,” Nieto said. “It’s a huge honor.”

Nieto works one-on-one with graduate students as many of them prepare for a career in counseling. She has taught developmental theory, gender and cultural issues in psychotherapy, and treatment for substance abuse, as well as supervised interns. She notes that learning to be a good counselor takes more than studying theory in class. Students must also be compassionate and able to listen to their patients’ needs.

“Based on research, the relationship a patient has with a counselor has the most effect on healing,” Nieto said.

In addition to her academic studies, Nieto is a poet, visual artist, dramatist and performer. Using Playback Theatre, she works with two groups. The first, which she helped found, is True Story Theatre/Teatro de la Vida Real, a Latina improv company that brings to life the personal stories of audience members, many of whom are also Latina. The other group is “Acting for Change,” which deals with social justice issues through theater. Both groups have performed around the state at community centers, schools, hospitals and prisons.

Nieto, of Olympia, graduated with a doctorate in clinical psychology from California’s Ryokan College in 1987. She has taught at Union Graduate School, Pacific Oaks College, The Evergreen State College, Azusa Pacific University, Marymount College and Citrus and Pasadena community colleges.

Her family includes longtime partner Garth Johnson, mother Leticia Fernandez, stepfather Jacky Astruc and sister Lilia Nieto.

Saint Martin’s is an independent, Roman Catholic coeducational college founded by the Benedictine Order. About 1,050 students are enrolled on its main campus and about 600 more in programs at the college’s extension campuses at Fort Lewis Army Post, McChord Air Force Base and Olympic College.

Barbara Gayle
Vice president for academic affairs

John DeWeese
Office of Communication