Victoria and Derek are mental health clinicians at Missouri State University. Victoria
is a mid-career Latina who lives in her hometown of Anderson, Missouri, while Derek
is a young Black professional who moved to Springfield from Chicago. Both were drawn
to providing mental health services in a college community, however for much different
Victoria recalls the struggles of being a first-generation student trying to navigate
all the forms, deadlines and aid offerings just to pursue her education. She fought
to keep up in class and felt very alone in her struggles.
After attaining her master’s degree in counseling, Victoria moved back to her hometown
to care for family. She wanted to work with college students but needed flexibility.
The Counseling Center at Missouri State provides accommodation for remote services
and 24/7 accessible student dashboards. Victoria sets her hours according to when
students need help, without having to factor in daily commutes. Alerts on the dashboard
allow her to provide preventative assistance before distress becomes a crisis.
Derek and high school best friend, Aiden, attended Missouri State. Aiden’s transition
was difficult. His struggle with depression and anxiety interrupted his college experience.
It’s a memory that still motivates Derek to find a connection with students in need.
After earning his undergraduate degree in psychology, Derek gained a graduate assistantship
in the MSU Counseling Center. The financial support of the assistantship allowed him
to pursue a master’s degree in psychology, while the experience he acquired helped
prepare him for a career working with college students.
Now as a full-time mental health clinician, he’s helping students like Aiden deal
with personal problems and get back on track. Derek knows there are stressors underrepresented
students experience that not every counselor can relate to. His goal is to not only
be a resource to Black students in need, but also those dealing with mental health
Both Victoria and Derek believe in the foundational support they provide to Missouri
State students. They also appreciate the forward-thinking culture that acknowledges
their sensitive work.