Counseling Center undervalued in its dedication, services

Editor’s Note: This letter is a response to a previous letter to the editor, “University Counseling Center lacks flexibility,“ published in the Sept. 26, 2013, edition of The Daily Illini.

This is in response to the recent letter to the editor that expressed concerns regarding services at the Counseling Center.

I believe I offer a more balanced student perspective on this issue. Unlike the claims in the aforementioned letter, I know that there is not one but, in fact, several administrative assistants that answer the phone.

In the past, I have only waited for a few minutes to speak to someone at the receptionist area. On a rare occasion in which my phone call was disconnected while I was on hold, the receptionist took initiative and returned my call. When I had a family emergency, the Counseling Center gave me a same-day appointment even though I called after 8 a.m.

All of my experiences setting up appointments have been convenient and painless.

There are many talented, excellent and dedicated clinicians at the Counseling Center. I worked with many of them on various committees, including clinical counselors Dr. Mary Russell, Dr. Jodi Thomas and Dr. Patricia Ricketts, along with Dr. Theresa Benson, assistant director.

One clinician, Dr. Greg Lambeth, won the Student Affairs Outstanding Staff Award in 2011. Dr. Lambeth won this prestigious award for his unfailing dedication to students’ academic concerns. As a result of his work, many students received their academic degrees.

Other clinicians have won other awards, too. Dr. Melanie Marklein, clinical counselor, received an award from the Women’s Resource Center.

Additionally, staff members are concerned with students’ holistic well-being, taking an interest beyond students’ academic well-being.

Unlike other University units, I have found the Counseling Center to treat people more like people and less like our University ID numbers.

The Counseling Center supports other activities (in addition to counseling) which I have found to be an extraordinary benefit to students.

I have attended and enjoyed many of the outreach activities including workshops from the Counseling Center Paraprofessional program (which received the Outstanding Program Award from Student Affairs for its service to students in 2013) as well as the plays produced by Inner Voices, a program that addresses social and health issues through performances and post-performance dialogues.

In short, I think the author of the aforementioned letter has greatly undervalued the dedication and benefits of the Counseling Center. I highly encourage other students to use this excellent resource.

R. “Néna” Mercedes Ramírez,

graduate student in education