Aside from massage chairs and educational workshops, Kalamazoo College’s counseling center features several trained counselors who are available to talk to students about personal concerns.
Heather Dannison, the newest counselor, has also taken on the role of advising The Sexual Safety and Support Alliance (S3A), a peer-led program advocating for sexual health and safety on campus.
Some of S3A’s aims are to extend a listening ear and a helping hand to students who have been assaulted, or need access to emergency contraceptives or pregnancy tests. Dannison meets with the student volunteers weekly for updates and training.
Dannison attended Michigan State University for her bachelor’s degree in family counseling services. She also attended Western Michigan University for her master’s in community counseling and worked towards a holistic health graduate counseling certificate specializing in marriage therapy. Dannison received her PhD in counseling psychology from University of Memphis. While at U of Memphis, she focused her research on LGBT relations and healthy sexuality. With an extensive resume and experience including practicum and internships at various colleges, K College is the sixth college she has worked at.
Dannison encourages everyone to come to the counseling center regardless of the levity of their issues.
“Counseling is for everybody for any reason,” Dannison said. She encourages students who are struggling, or just want extra support to come and utilize the free service.
She recognizes that there is a lot of anxiety amongst students owing to high stress levels at school, but she also realizes that it might be hard for students to come forward and open up to a stranger.
“My hope is that students can feel like they can come no matter what’s going on with them and be given a confidential and safe place to talk about what their concerns are,” Dannison said.
Dannison is also planning an outreach service with the counseling center to allow students to meet the people working in the center before coming to a formal session.