Mental Health Counselor Honored With Obsidian Award


Dr. Pauline J. Furman ’73 ’75 has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Obsidian Award, the highest recognition given annually by BGSU’s Black Alumni Council. The award is presented to a black alumnus who represents the best and brightest in their professional community and serves as a stellar example of BGSU.

“It’s so wonderful to be honored by the university where I received two of my degrees,” said Furman, a psychologist in private practice. “It’s an awareness that others can see all of the things that you’ve been doing for a number of years that you love to do.”

The Obsidian Award is named for a strong, black, volcanic rock, and its recipients reflect the rock’s properties – diverse and durable with the ability to rise above life’s challenges.

Furman’s practice, the Center for Individual and Family Counseling in Southfield, Michigan, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. Over the last three decades, she has been tapped to lend her expertise to a number of organizations throughout south­eastern Michigan, includ­ing corporations, small businesses, schools and faith-based institutions. In addition to family and couples counseling, she has developed a number of workshops, seminars and trainings, as well as offering crisis therapy to provide emotional sup­port and coping strategies when a critical or traumatic incident occurs in the school or workplace.

As a result of her dedication and long-time contributions to the region, she also was recently honored with a Spirit of Detroit Award.

Furman admits she didn’t set out to become a mental health counselor. She first enrolled in BGSU with plans to become a music teacher, having studied piano and violin herself since elementary school. But a chance encounter with a hall director who was looking for test subjects for mock therapy sessions in the counseling program changed her life’s trajectory.

“That was like the foundational piece of my experience,” Furman said of taking part in the class exercise. She knew she’d found her calling, and she went on to get her master’s in mental health counseling after finishing her bachelor’s in music education.

“I was studious and passionate,” she said of her time at BGSU. “My parents were very interested in education even though they did not have a college education. They grew up in the south and were much older when I was born. But they had a belief in the power of education to open doors to success.”

Furman is proud to have proven them right.

Furman has made a point to stay involved with the University since graduation, and she remains very close to several of her Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters. In addition to engaging with the Black Alumni Council for many years, including helping with homecoming plans, also recently accepted an invitation to join the Leadership Council at BGSU.

“I’m enjoying the journey and the opportunity to continue to take part in BGSU,” she said. “My desire is to continue to be an asset and use my skills and enhance the university for future and current students.”