By Collin Atwood
The life of a college student is stressful enough, but there is no doubt that everyone’s stress levels have gone up since March of 2020. College students, especially, have had to deal with numerous changes in their lives. Online learning, quarantine housing and weekly testing were all new aspects to college that nobody was prepared for.
Now that the college lifestyle is somewhat normal again, people are still getting used to the intensity and speed of a normal routine. It’s important that these students have someone to go to when they feel like the stress of college is just too much.
Fortunately for the Springfield College community, the Counseling Center on campus is full of counselors who are eager to assist students in processing their everyday problems.
“To have someone come into my office and to talk about the most intimate parts of their life and to be privileged to be a part of that is pretty incredible,” said Paige Getchell, a psychologist at the Springfield College Counseling Center.
It didn’t take long for Getchell to realize that she wanted to be a counselor, and help people through their problems. Sharing stories has always been a big part of her family culture. Through those years of sharing and listening to stories, Getchell’s love grew for hearing how people’s life experiences have affected them.
“I always really just enjoyed talking to people and was really interested in people’s stories,” said Getchell. “Everyone has a very unique, interesting story, and different perspective.”
This passion for listening to others talk about their life led Getchell to attend Roanoke College where she majored in psychology and minored in sociology. She attended graduate school at Loyola University and that’s where her specific interest in counseling adults originated.
“While I was there, I really knew that I wanted to work with adults,” Getchell said. “I had experience working at some outpatient settings, working with different communities [like] the LGBTQ+ community – I worked with individuals who were diagnosed with HIV or facing economic oppression.”
After completing her internship and postdoctoral at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, she was offered a job at Springfield College. It was the tight-knit community and amazing staff at Springfield that interested Getchell. The small community at Springfield makes it easier for her to connect with the students and work with them in a long-term way.
“There’s just a sense of community here and everyone… we’re all very different, but there’s a sense of family that was really welcoming,” she said.
Family is exactly what gets Getchell through her tough days. After a long day of helping students through the problems that life brings, she could use a little therapeutic time herself. When she’s not at work, she loves spending time with her daughter and dog named Bubba.
In her six years at Springfield, Getchell has been a tremendous resource for many students on campus. Her counseling and pure joy in helping others has been the therapy that the community needs.
Another counselor who has proved herself as a positive resource to many is Jennifer Dashiell-Shoffner. Other than a counselor, Dashiell-Shoffner is a professor and coordinator for the rehab studies program at Springfield College.
Dashiell-Shoffner has been at Springfield since the fall semester of 2020, and she was drawn here after meeting the faculty and realizing how genuine and “real” they were. She values a workplace where people can show up as themselves and not be afraid to be who they are.
“They were very authentic, very transparent…it felt very real and it was a place [where] I realized I can work in this department and be me,” Dashiell-Shoffner said.
Those qualities were important to her because prior to Springfield, she studied and worked at North Carolina A&T State University which is a public, historically Black university. The switch from a public all-Black school to a private, predominately-white college, was terrifying.
“I was worried about how I would be perceived in general by the students overall, because I was at a college where I wasn’t different.”
Dashiell-Shoffner came into Springfield very guarded because she was worried that as a Black female staff member, she would run into a scenario where a student would mistreat her. As the semester progressed, she soon realized that the students at Springfield were not the type to discriminate against anyone.
“The guard I came in with, I realized I didn’t need it. I got ready for something that I thought was going to happen and it never happened,” Dashiell-Shoffner said.
During her time as a student in North Carolina, Dashiell-Shoffner majored in psychology and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree. She continued her studies at Radford University because she was unsure about what she wanted to do for a career.
While she was there, she earned her Master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology before returning to teach and study at her alma mater in North Carolina A&T. While Dashiell-Shoffner was teaching there, she was also earning her Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling.
It wasn’t until she went for her PhD in rehabilitation counseling and rehabilitation counselor education that Dashiell-Shoffner realized she had a passion for counseling. The best way for her to pursue this passion without giving up her love for teaching was to be a part-time counselor, and that’s exactly what she did.
After being employed as a professor at Springfield College, Dashiell-Shoffner found herself reading an article in The Springfield Student about the list of demands made by social justice organizations in Sept. 2020.
“I saw what the Black student organizations were asking for and one of them was more counselors of color in the counseling center… so I called the director and said ‘Hey, do you still need counselors of color?’” Dashiell-Shoffner said.
She was more than qualified and from there, Dashiell-Shoffner became a part-time counselor. She’s now available at the Counseling Center one day a week for about four hours.
Dashiell-Shoffner’s favorite thing about counseling is helping students find the solutions to their problems on their own. She describes it as “seeing the lightbulb turn on.”
“That’s the best part because then I know we’re doing the work,” she said.
Brian Krylowicz, Director of the Counseling Center, is another person that has a passion for helping students through their four years of college. Krylowicz has held his role as Director since he came to Springfield in 2012.
Krylowicz graduated from Whittier College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1990. His interest in psychology stemmed from a sports psychology class he took in his junior year of college.
In his journey of becoming a sports psychologist, Krylowicz attended Texas Tech University where he ultimately would earn his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in counseling psychology. While he was in the program, he was responsible for working at the university’s counseling center. Although he was unfamiliar with the setting, the more he worked there the more he thought that being a counselor is a career that he would enjoy.
“I was sent over to go work at the counseling center,” Krylowicz said. “I got some good guidance and away my career went.”
Working in counseling at Texas Tech started a college counseling journey for Krylowicz. He has never been a counselor outside of the college setting – and that’s exactly how he likes it.
“As a therapist you want to work with people that have insight and you want to have people that are looking to change their lives,” he said. “College working is just awesome.”
Luckily for Springfield, after multiple stops at other colleges, Krylowicz brought himself over to the East Coast for the first time ever to join the counseling center on Alden Street.
“When I interviewed here, everybody seemed to care about the students, and that was a vibe you don’t get at every college,” Krylowicz said.
That is exactly what Krylowicz is about. All he wants is to see people on campus smiling and laughing, even through the tough times.
“My favorite part is watching people graduate,” Krylowicz said. “I had a great time in college, so part of the reason I like working at the counseling center is I want to make sure as many people as I can also have a great time in college.”
The counseling center at Springfield is a valuable resource filled with caring people who want to see the students on campus succeed. Students are encouraged to take advantage of this resource and visit springfield.edu/student-life/counseling-center for more information.
Photo: Springfield College Counseling Center