Archive for the 'Counseling and Human Services' Category

Getting to Know Our Students: Leslie Alton

This year, we are spending time getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Leslie, one of our current graduate students!

IMG_1990My name is Leslie Alton, and I am a second year in the Masters of Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program. I grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Barrington, went to undergrad at Ohio Wesleyan University, and then made my way to Milwaukee. I moved to Milwaukee in the summer of 2017, and its charm has been growing on me ever since. My favorite educational experience is the internship that I have been able to do as a part of the program. My placement is at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in the Counseling Services working with the students on myriad issues/concerns. I love using what I learn in the classroom and applying it to my work at internship, as well as growing into the skills and feeling more confident as a counselor.

With graduation in May, I am excited to enter the workforce and start my career as a counselor. I was drawn to Marquette because of the people I met. While a lot of schools have good programs to offer, the people I came across during the interview process and faculty I spoke to are what set apart Marquette from other programs. When I am not busy with everything school wise, one of my favorite hobbies is rollerblading, and I would suggest that anyone who is interested in rollerblading prioritizes learning how to stop! The inspiration that I have for the field of counseling stems from all of the internships that I have had since the beginning of college. At each internship I have had the pleasure of working with a lot of people who have the drive and passion to make a difference in the lives of others, and I hope to do the same!

 

The Importance of Counselors

counselor-1294858_960_720By Sabrina Bartels

Last week, I had the honor of participating in a panel discussion focused on youth mental health. The event was a collaboration between several organizations, including Marquette Law School, Marquette’s College of Education, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Individuals from across the country and from many different walks of life joined together to talk about the mental health crisis and what we can do to help support children and teens as they navigate these difficult struggles.

Of all the panels, I really liked the one where teens talked about overcoming and living with mental health concerns. One of the girls was a middle school student. When describing her middle school experience, she mentioned that she sometimes goes to her school counselor, but that it’s hard to see her because she’s so busy. The student said that her counselor’s door is closed a lot because she’s with other students, or “in a six-hour meeting.” It made me crack up (because it’s true, we have a lot of meetings!) but it also made me a little sad. Here was a student who really needed to see someone, but her counselor wasn’t available.

Which made me think of my own students. I’ve been lucky this year to have a slightly smaller 8th grade class, but I’m still as busy as ever. I thought about all the sign-up sheets on my desk, and how sometimes, it takes me one or two days to follow up with these students. Not because I don’t want to talk to them, but because every day can be filled with chaos and crises, and I am never guaranteed enough time. I think about students who like to check in with me, but whom I can’t always consistently meet with on the same day, or even the same time. As one of my kiddos put it, “You just never know what’s going to come through your door next, do you, Ms. B?” And for the record, he’s absolutely right.

I am so incredibly blessed to work in a district that recognizes the importance of counselors, psychologists, and social workers, and why we are so necessary. I’m also really fortunate that my administration recognizes the work we do. They’ve excused us from lunch duty and hallways sweeps. They limit the number of students who test with us. I’m lucky; I can’t say that enough. But I recognize that not every counselor is in my situation. At my school, the student to counselor ratio (on average) is about 310 to 1. In the state of Wisconsin, it’s around 454 to 1. And the ideal ratio? 250 to 1.

Why is this important? Because the more “stretched” we become, the less effective we are, and most importantly, the less time we have for kids. That means students who are struggling with bullying, mental health issues, academics, or trauma may not see us when their need is highest. This also means that we lose a window of opportunity to get to know the student on a deeper level. For some, it’s okay; the student will keep reaching out to us and we will have that chance. But for some who may already be nervous or scared to reach out, if they can’t have us at that precise moment the window closes and may not open up again.

Are we bound to miss students sometimes? Yes, of course. Sometimes, we have another student in our offices, and we have to tell the other one we will talk to them later. That’s part of our job. But the more counselors, psychologists, social workers, and outside agencies that are available, the less time they have to wait, the quicker we can address the problem, and the sooner students can return to class with a less-burdened mind. With their mind at ease, students have more brain power for school, which can help them achieve their full academic potential.

We’ve heard that these things we teach and model – emotional regulation, conflict resolution, and organization – are “soft skills.” These so-called “soft skills” are not that soft. These are skills that are so important to a student’s every day functioning as an adult. Their social/emotional success is just as critical to their learning as reading and math. That is what we are trained in. That is why we’re needed.

The event really sparked my enthusiasm, and continued to stress the importance of mental health professionals. But it was the youth panel that reminded me of why I do what I do, why I advocate for counselors, and why it’s an important job. The most inspiring thing is that these students haven’t given up. Neither should we.

Getting to Know Heather Wolfgram

Heather Wolfgram joined Marquette University and the College of Education as a Director of Development in November of 2018. With several years of exerience in development on behalf of nonprofit organizations, Heather is ready to to advance the mission of both the college and the university. Read on to get to know Heather, and check out the rest of our series getting to know faculty, staff, and students!

IMG_9016 I’m originally from Big Bend, WI, and I’ve been back in Milwaukee for five years. My family is BIG and very close. All of my extended family still gets together for every holiday. My immediate family gets together almost every Sunday for dinner. Kids and dogs are welcome.

I have my Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota. I absolutely loved the experience. I learned so much and had the opportunity to build what I think is a really broad skillset. As a social worker I’m drawn to community organizers like Saul Alinsky and Barack Obama. Grassroots community organizing can be incredibly impactful. I’ve always been passionate about higher education and life-long learning. Marquette offered me an opportunity to make education accessible (through donor-funded scholarships) to those who might not have thought it was possible. I also really admire the Jesuit commitment to service and giving back to the community. As I move into my new role, I’m excited about partnering with Dean Henk to build the College of Education Leadership Council.

When not at work, I’m an avid cyclist. I love the combination of being outside, being social, and contributing to my health. When I moved back to Milwaukee, I joined a female cycling club called the Bella Donnas/Cadence. These are some of the most supportive, compassionate, and welcoming women I have ever met. Many of them have become close friends and will likely lead to life-long friendships. I would encourage any women who are cyclists or interested in becoming cyclists to ride with Cadence this spring/summer.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Marquette family and I look forward to learning everything I can about the College of Education.

The College of Education provides outstanding academic programs, generates nationally recognized research, and engages in significant community outreach. With the assistance of those who believe deeply in the importance of schooling and mental health across the spectrum, we can be more impactful in all of these social justice pursuits. To contribute to scholarships or community outreach endeavors, contact Heather Wolfgram today! 

 

Celebrating 10 Years and Giving Back

IMG_1505By Hannah Jablonowski

Marquette University’s College of Education is collecting warm winter clothes for Penfield Montessori Academy (PMA), a local elementary school, in celebration of the tenth anniversary since we became a college. Marquette and the College of Education have a strong connection with PMA. Located close to Marquette’s campus, current students and alumni work within the school, and the College of Education could not think of a better way to celebrate our tenth anniversary than to help out!

The weather in the Midwest has been at a record low, and it is necessary for everyone to be warm. PMA is in need of winter clothes for their students. As part of a Jesuit community that embraces helping those in need, the College of Education started a winter clothing drive to collect materials needed to help keep these students warm and safe. The drive is continuing through February 15th, but items that were already donated were delivered this week due to the recent cold temperatures. With multiple coats, hats, scarves, and gloves already donated, Marquette’s College of Education is excited to see what other items will be donated and how we can continue to be the difference within our community.

If you are willing and able to help out but cannot make it to campus to drop off any donations, please view Penfield Montessori’s Amazon Wishlist for items you can buy and have automatically shipped to the school!

 

The Importance of Mental health: A Letter From One Marquette Student to Another

counselorBy Sabrina Bartels

Earlier this month, the Journal Sentinel published this article on Markus Howard. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.  After reading it, I felt compelled to write a little note to him.

Dear Markus,

To start with a cliché: you don’t know me, but I know a little bit about you. I am an avid Marquette fan, having graduated from Marquette with my undergrad degree in 2011 and my Master’s in School Counseling in 2013. I have watched games where all the odds have been stacked against us, and seen you help lead the team to victory. Earlier this month, you helped elevate the team over Creighton, scoring a historic 53 points and whipping Marquette nation into an absolute frenzy.

And because of your skill, my 8th graders have started taking notice. They talk about how great you are and how much they want to be like you. They talk about going to Marquette someday and playing in the Fiserv Forum. I’ve had kids try to imitate your three-point shot so they can use it during their own games. They talk about someday beating your free throw point average.

You are an absolute hero to them because of what you do on the court. For me, you are a hero for what happens after the game has ended.

You may not know it, but I’m hoping my students are watching you because of the way you portray yourself. You make sure to stay humble. (I just saw an interview you gave after the Creighton game, and when asked about how you are so effective at what you do, your response was “I play on a great team.” Nothing about how you scored about half the points Marquette made that night.) You give back to the fans. You volunteer and work hard. You are a great leader on the NCAA Division I Men’s basketball Oversight Committee. But most importantly, you’ve gone public on the importance of mental health in athletes.

As a counselor, mental health is my daily job, but it’s often hard to put it into perspective with my 13- and 14-year-old students. My kiddos come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and all of them come in with a different perspective on counseling. Some students love having me at school, so they can talk about their problems. Some just think I’m a friendly person to have around. But then there are some who view counseling as weak. They don’t want to ask for help, for fear of how that makes them look. And these are the kids that I struggle connecting with the most. It’s almost like we have little boundaries up that are hard to overcome.

The fact that you talked about seeing a psychologist as “just another practice” has really opened up the door to a lot of my students. Suddenly, talking to a mental health professional is not taboo. It’s not weird; it’s not only for people they think are “crazy.” It’s for everyone who needs someone to talk to. And my hope is that my students start to embody that mentality, that counseling is something that can help everyone, regardless of age, race, orientation, socioeconomic status, etc.

You’ve also opened the door to talking about mental health openly. A lot of my students think that mental health – good or bad – is a very private thing, or something that could never happen to them (“I’m a good student, so I can’t have anxiety”). And while it is in some respects private, talking about how mental health has affected you or someone you know can open doorways to others sharing their own personal experience, which all helps reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

It was also important for my students to hear why spending time with people you love is important. Some of my students are going through a phase where it isn’t cool to spend time with family, or people in general who love them. In an age where isolation is all too common, having someone whom they look up to emphasize the importance of connection is all the more special.

So thank you. Thank you for speaking out and using your voice to inspire others. Best of luck the rest of this season.

We are Marquette!
Sincerely,

A grateful school counselor

Be Present to Receive the Gift

By Karisse Callender

downloadA lot happens during the holiday season. There’s a lot of food, celebrations, family visits, travels, and time with loved ones. No matter the situation or our experiences, there is a gift we can all give to ourselves – the gift of mindful living so we can be present, in the moment, to fully experience life.

 

Here are some mindful tips and suggestions for the holiday season to help you remain present:

  • Practice gratitude: I use the word practice because being grateful takes intentional effort and it is a habit that needs to be cultivated. During this season, take a moment to think about at least three things you can be grateful for. It can be as simple as “I’m grateful for having a meal today,” “I’m grateful for a safe place to sleep,” “I express gratitude today for waking up.” A gratitude list can help to remind us of the simple things in life that make the biggest difference. On the days when it seems hard to find something/someone to be grateful for, think about what you would express gratitude for if you were having a good day.
  • Set intentions: Think about what you want this holiday season to represent for you. Is this a time for you to bond with distant family? Create new rituals with loved ones or for yourself? Is this a time to be contemplative and introspective? Whatever your intention, write it down and work towards it.
  • Journal: This is a great way to keep track of your thoughts and feelings over the holiday. It’s also a way to sit with what you are experiencing, in the moment. What did you learn about yourself? How did your intention(s) manifest? What were you able to do for others? How have you grown in the year? What lessons from the holiday can you take into the new year? How have you shown yourself loving-kindness over the holiday?
  • Radical acceptance: It would be ideal if things happen the way we want, all the time. However, that’s not the reality of our lives. When we feel confused and have no control over how things happen, you can remind yourself that “it is what it is, it is as it should be.” In other words, you are recognizing what is happening, as it’s happening, and acknowledging that it is out of your control.

Mindfulness is less about sitting still and more about being present in our lives – each moment, each experience, each day. When we take the time to be attuned to what is happening within and around us, we learn more about ourselves and our needs, and what we are capable of giving to others. As we think about what we can give to others, another mindful practice this holiday season is to remember and reach out to those who may also be in distress. Some may experience grief, a sense of loss, poverty, homelessness, and discord in relationships. As we think of the ways we are blessed and the simple privileges we have, let us also think about how we can be the difference for others.

May you all be happy, healthy, and at peace during this season and the new year. Be well.

Changing Climate: Counselors Getting Crafty!

By Sabrina Bartels

At the start of this school year, the Student Services department decided to help “beautify” our building. Here are some fun things we did to help our school climate!

  1. “Be the nice kid” quote. This was one of the most difficult things we did, but it was definitely worth it. We started by purchasing white paint and painting over a small section of the brick wall. We then projected a picture of the quote on the wall and traced the lettering, before finishing off the words with a couple coats of paint. It was finicky and stressful, but we’ve gotten tons of compliments on it. If you’re thinking of adding this quote to your school, we recommend picking up a variety of brushes to accommodate the different fonts. Also, this is a team activity – all the painting can get very tedious for just one person! Be the nice kid
  2. Drake bulletin board. Our students love this one (and also use it as an excuse to sing the song “Hey Keke.”) We saw a bulletin board on Facebook that used the quote, so we adjusted it a little to fit our school and added our own picture of Drake. We hope that it encourages our students to start thinking about their post-secondary education paths. It’s also a fun way to incorporate a little pop culture into school! Bulletin Board
  3. And speaking of education paths … we added a bulletin board outside of Student Services so we could post our own educational paths. Our students love seeing where all of us went to school! We’ve also used our new bulletin board to post inspirational quotes for our students to read. Educational PathwaysEducational PathStudent Services board
  4. Inside Out bulletin board. We also created a bulletin board that offers students a gentle reminder about what we do in Student Services. So often, we have students who don’t know what our roles are, or what they can talk to us about. Inside Out
  5. Pennants. In September, we sent out emails to (almost) all of the colleges and universities in Wisconsin, asking for pennants and any “swag” the colleges had to promote their school. The responses we got were overwhelming! Around 15 schools (Marquette included!) not only sent us pennants, but were super generous in sending us t-shirts, temporary tattoos, stickers/decals, water bottles, and more! Thanks to their kindness, we are able to start discussing post-secondary education right now with our students. We wanted to hang them over the bulletin board outside our office, but are trying to find something better than duct tape to hold them up.

What is a Marquette Educator?

Follow us on Twitter

Archives