Zobaida Laota has lived and traveled all over the world, but when it came to the right place to pursue her doctorate degree, UNCG’s counseling and educational development program was the perfect fit.

Originally from Sudan, Laota and her family immigrated to the United States when she was six years old. They lived in North Carolina and Texas and became American citizens before moving to Saudi Arabia 12 years ago for her father’s job.

Laota returned to the U.S. for college, earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill and her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from NC State.

“I chose mental health, but in a lot of ways, it chose me,” she said. “I have a passion for it.”

Her interest in the subject started at an early age, when she first encountered individuals with autism and other developmental delays.

In high school, Laota spent time in Cambodia, the Philippines, Tanzania and Turkey on service trips, as well as other places in the Middle East. She also traveled to Honduras several times with the Global Public Health Brigade as an undergraduate student.

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