Can’t Pick One: On Sharon Cheston, Ed.D., and Ralph Piedmont, Ph.D.

Teresa Waldman Wilkins, ′81, M.A. ′90, M.S. ′09, on Sharon Cheston, Ed.D., and Ralph Piedmont, Ph.D.

By Magazine Staff  |  Photo by Cory Donovan

Teresa Waldman Wilkins, ’81, M.A. ’90, M.S. ’09, has earned several degrees from Loyola—a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, master’s degrees in liberal studies and pastoral counseling, and is completing a Ph.D. in pastoral counseling. So it’s no surprise that she had trouble naming just one professor.

The two she gives the most credit to, however, she met more recently. They are both professors of pastoral counseling: Sharon Cheston, Ed.D., and Ralph Piedmont, Ph.D.

“When I started in the master’s program in pastoral counseling, Dr. Cheston was one of my very first professors,” said Wilkins, a former teacher herself who took a counseling theories course with Cheston. “When I’m in the classroom, I’m also kind of evaluating the process. I had already been through Loyola in two other programs, so I knew the quality of instruction was high.”

Wilkins was struck by how Cheston served as a model for her students. “She’s such a gentle presence in the classroom and really models how to be a pastoral counselor.”

When Piedmont asked the Middle River, Md., resident to serve as his graduate assistant, she was surprised and honored. “I think what he saw was somebody who was willing to argue with him and be able to back up what I said,” she said. “I think he liked that—my intellectual curiosity and my willingness to state what I believed.”

Wilkins, who will earn her Ph.D. next spring, appreciates Piedmont’s high expectations for his students—and himself. “He has such a depth and breadth of knowledge of his field. Learning gives me great joy, and I find it so engaging just to be around someone so knowledgeable.”

Piedmont has also given Wilkins opportunities to publish articles with him. “He has a wonderful way of scaffolding, which helped me through the process. Now I’ll have a publication where I’ll be first author before graduation.”

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