This past summer I opened Inward Growth Counseling Solutions, my own private practice in Old Colorado City, where I serve children, teens and families. I was recently hired by Douglas County Schools as a prevention counselor at Mountain Ridge Middle School, a school of 1,150 seventh and eighth grade students in Highlands Ranch Colo. This is a new grant-funded position to create prevention programming services, and partnerships related to substance abuse and suicide.
I am working with my sixteen-year-old son to create a project to address teen suicide from a teenage perspective. I have committed to create a project to support early childhood literacy from birth to three, which will encourage early brain development, parent and child relationships, and collaborative community parenting.
The moment I most remember from my time at Central was during the A Cappella Choir tour at the end of my freshman year when we traveled throughout central and eastern Europe. I specifically remember Dr. David Williams’ commitment that we not simply be on tour for music, but for outreach and connections to others. While I do not remember if he explicitly stated this, it was very much implied simply because of who he was. The moment that defined my life path that was to be my calling happened after a concert in the Ukraine. We had just boarded the bus and as we were pulling away I saw a young boy who was probably no more than seven smoking a cigarette. I was shocked, saddened and disappointed, and at that moment I was also called to be of service to children. This was the defining moment in my life, where I was clear about my purpose.
Central gave me so much more than I gave during my time there. My education beyond the knowledge gained has propelled me to be an active member in my community, to be of service, and a steward. I have had my experiences in life and travel throughout the United States and the world, and what I gained from Ed Willis, Peggy Fitch, Anne Petrie, Schultze, Dr. Williams, Dr. Folkerts, Chad Ray, and so many others made a difference in every interaction I have had with others. I am comfortable with people in other cultures regardless of language, not because I am adept in their culture, but because I see our common humanity. I serve children no matter their needs or issues, not because of a specific theory or practice, but because I was treated with unconditional compassion and respect during my time at Central by every adult who supported my growth into adulthood. My life after Central is amazing, because the people who showed up to teach me were there to impart more than knowledge. I believe they were there to share their faith, compassion, humanity, and most of all their love. Thanks to all the Central staff, both those who worked there during my time, and those who continue to provide an incredibly valuable mission.