Interviewed by Marissa Cremin, Communications, Class of 2018
Suzanna began her journey to counseling when she was an undergraduate student studying psychology and she went on to get her Master’s in counseling in 1983. She has worked in a number of college counseling centers of which WSU’s is the fifth. She began at WSU in 1995, at the inception of the Counseling Center.
Her favorite part about working with students on campus is the seasonal aspect of the job. It’s a semester-based process, and she explains that the natural ends and beginnings seem to help with problem solving. She believes that with the proper accommodations, students can excel to their greatest potential.
Suzanna describes the most rewarding part of counseling as seeing people grow after a struggle. She loves it when students are able to see after the work they have done, the growth they are experiencing in their lives. Suzanna wishes that when she was in college, mental health struggles weren’t so stigmatized. A lot of people were suffering, but it was hidden because people just didn’t understand.
Suzanna loves the beauty of Western Mass, and especially the beauty that can be found right on campus. She explains that she is lucky to be able to work at the same place as her husband who currently works on the academic side of the campus. In her free time, Suzanna enjoys singing in various classical music groups in the area. She also loves to bake, and regularly makes treats for Counseling Center staff to enjoy.
Brian Cahillane, MSSW, JD, LICSW
Interim Director, Substance Abuse Specialist, and Counselor
Lammers Hall A105
Interviewed by Marissa Cremin, Communications, Class of 2018
Brian’s first position in human services was at a treatment center for adolescent substance abusers. He specializes in substance abuse counseling and guiding substance abuse prevention efforts on campus.
Brian’s favorite thing about working with students on campus is that he is constantly surprised in a good way. He loves that Westfield is a place where you can make a difference.
Brian wishes that in college he had known more about mental health issues. When he was in school, there was no counseling center. If someone were to exhibit signs of mental illness he and his fellow students would not have had the same resources to figure out how to recognize mental illness or how to help someone.
Brian is a foodie who loves to explore new restaurants. He also loves to travel and has served as instructor and staff for WSU J-terms to Morocco and Ireland/Northern Ireland.
Julia Nedry, MSW, LICSW
Lammers Hall A102
Interviewed by Monique Desnoyers, English, Class of 2017
Julia knew she was interested in social work since her teenage years. Julia recalls staying up late talking with one of her best friends, dreaming up plans for how they would change high school, if it was up to them. This strong desire to use knowledge to improve things is what propelled Julia to find a career she loves in social work, outreach, and counseling.
Julia’s favorite part of working in the Counseling Center is that she gets to support students through a time that is full of changes, whether it be living away from home for the first time, finding new levels of independence, shifting relationships…there are so many changes that happen during college. She loves the chance to help students come up with their own decisions. It is gratifying for Julia to help students feel empowered. Witnessing students figuring out who they are, especially by overcoming a struggle, gives her hope.
In addition to counseling one-on-one, Julia truly loves her outreach work. As an Outreach Coordinator, she works towards expanding mental health education. Julia enjoys that her outreach allows her to work with the enthusiastic students at WSU.
When it comes to her free time, Julia likes lots of time with no plans – so she has the freedom to do what she really wants to do. She says that she can relax by simply spending time at home with her husband and adds that she enjoys eating a good meal – especially if she doesn’t have to cook it. Above all, Julia relaxes by going to yoga.
If she could give advice to herself back when she was in college, it would be to know that it is okay to take advantage of the Counseling Center, and it doesn’t take away your sense of being an independent adult – instead, it makes you feel more like a grown-up when you take the initiative to solve a problem or make something better. Julia adds that that no one has to go through difficult times alone.
Joseph Holbrooks, MA, LMHC
Lammers Hall A101
Interviewed by Alyssah Delgado, Communications, Class of 2019
Joseph comes from a big family and was always interested in how people communicate. As a college student trying to decide his career path, he knew he wanted to be involved in helping people, even as an English major. Being a writer and doing character studies, he observed people's motivations. This caused him to link helping people with figuring out why people do the things they do.
Joseph’s favorite thing about working with students on campus is helping them determine what kind of person they want to be. He most prizes the fact that his work can make a positive difference in others’ lives, especially during the emerging adulthood stage. As a counselor, he is drawn to helping students through the process of assessing where they’ve been and deciding who they want to be.
On his recent journey to Westfield, Joseph started applying for jobs in Boston, but found that he loved Western Massachusetts because of the hiking, the affordability, and its smaller web of people where it is much easier to make interpersonal relationships. Some of his favorite pastimes include being active, reading literature, watching movies, seeing live music, and creating art. He is a big fan of 80’s alternative music, and some of his favorite current artists are Sylvan Esso, the National, and Alabama Shakes.
Joseph wants current and future students to know that the college experience is a time to be free to try things out and figure out what and who brings out one’s best self.
Mowie Freeman, MSS, LICSW
Lammers Hall A103
Interviewed by Alexander Silva, Masters in Social Work, Class of 2021
Mowie’s interest in counseling arose around the age of 14-15 years old. At an early age, she experienced many family events in which she learned just how meaningful it was to have the right support system. Mowie realized that she was passionate about and wanted to do deep listening work, as well as accompany people in the areas in which they hoped to grow, shift, and heal.
Mowie’s favorite part about working with students on campus is that she can provide a unique space for students who are in the process of learning about who they are, who they want to be, and what’s important to them. She feels very fortunate to spend time with students during this period of growth and learning, which gives her a feeling of excitement and fulfillment. Mowie’s experiences with clients have brought so much learning and joy to her life. She describes the process of accompanying others through their growth and healing as meaningful, as she can see how her clients have come to feel more grounded and comfortable while at school.
Mowie really enjoys the WSU campus community, along with the diversity that comes from students’ different backgrounds. She describes Westfield State as a small and unique community that offers students an immense amount of opportunities to connect and network with others.
During her free time, Mowie likes to spend time outdoors, either hiking or walking. A few times a week, she also practices meditation and mindfulness. In addition, Mowie enjoys the art of music. You can find her playing the guitar and ukulele as well as singing and writing.
If she could now give herself advice while she was in college, Mowie wishes she had been more aware that emotional wellbeing is something that we are all figuring out, and that it is normal to have different emotions and experiences while in school. She also believes it is important for everyone to get the right support system in spite of the culture of shame and stigma that all students navigate.
Professional information :
Lynn Koenig, MSW, LCSW
Post-Graduate Fellow and Relaxation Coach
Lammers Hall A107
Interviewed by Samaily Bonilla, Psychology, Class of 2019
Lynn grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts in a lower income neighborhood, where she was exposed to many different types of help. This early exposure to social services inspired her to help others in return, especially single mothers and parents in need. From there, she started to expand her career into different areas such as helping kids and the elderly.
Lynn’s favorite thing about working at Westfield is that she gets the opportunity to help a great variety of students who are going through different conflicts in life – conflicts that she remembers going through herself as a student trying to balance life and school. She also loves that there are so many resources on campus that work hand-in-hand with her position at the counseling center.
Lynn enjoys Westfield, Massachusetts because it is a small town with a suburban feel. To start her day, Lynn does a two-minute meditation to help with stress management, and uses techniques from the counseling center’s very own relaxation coaching sessions. For fun she also attends an adult tap class on a regular basis.
Lynn feels rewarded when her clients say they felt better after a session with her; she mentions, “even if I just get to help someone plant the seeds of change, I feel rewarded, because you don’t always get to see that.” College experience helped prepare her for her field, and she had the privilege to work with college students as a coach and academic specialist at Becker College. She even did mediation work with the student athletes on the team. She feels especially that her experience studying motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy prepared her for working with students as a counselor.
Gradutate Intern Counselor
Lammers Hall A107
Interviewed by Maddie Hawkins, Business, Class of 2021
Ben became interested in counseling as an undergraduate English Major at UMass Amherst. After college, this interest was solidified when Ben attended a training as a part of his work with adults with disabilities that emphasized the power and importance of relationship. This training helped Ben realize that he wanted to do work that was relationally focused—and counseling felt like one way to do this.
As Ben deepens his counseling experience, he wants to continue to help others and to create a positive change.
At the WSU Counseling Center, Ben enjoys working with the Center’s team, since they have strong relationships with one another and a sense of the Westfield Community. A sense of the community that he’s working in feels important to Ben as he continues his counseling experience. In his downtime, you can find Ben taking a walk, doing yoga, and playing video games, such as Witcher and Animal Crossing.
As an undergraduate, Ben wished that he had known more about what counseling entails, since it’s so different than what he expected. He expressed, “Everyone at the counseling center is so understanding and wants to help and be there to support you. Just to know that there are people that exist and are willing to help makes it all worth it.”
Currently a second-year graduate student studying Clinical Mental Health at Springfield College
Lammers Hall A100
Interviewed by Lynn Paulella Beard, MSW Student, Class of 2022
Leslie is the Administrative Assistant for the Counseling Center here at Westfield State University. She has been with our Owl family for over 12 years, having previously worked with Student Affairs and Public Safety before adopting her current role at the Counseling Center. Leslie enjoys working with WSU students and finds the Counseling Center to be a rewarding place to be.
Throughout her life’s journey, Leslie has been a caregiver to many. One particularly important relationship for her was with her brother, a connection that she attributes to changing her perception of mental health and well-being. Leslie feels blessed and grateful in so many ways for her path and is thrilled to now be a part of the caring WSU Counseling Center family.
Leslie finds inspiration in encouraging others as they find their strengths and reach for their goals. During her downtime, she enjoys music, reading, and the calming of light of a candle. She is out-going, enjoys people, and approaches life with the “glass half-full” perspective. On top of everything else, Leslie is a great listener too!
Interviewed by Alyssa Bartula, Psychology, Class of 2020
Kirsten first became interested in the field of counseling when she was a neuroscience major at Bucknell University. She became extremely interested in the brain while conducting research after college at Harvard Med, and decided that she wanted to return to school and work hands-on with people. Kirsten is dedicated to her many jobs of which Westfield State University is one of them. Kirsten is thrilled to work with WSU students because they are motivated and future-focused. She enjoys helping the next generation of people and loves to meet new people who offer a new perspective. Kirsten loves to get to know the students and sharing her empathy with as many people as she can.
For Kirsten, the most rewarding part of her job is seeing when clients progress and gain more insight into their circumstances. She loves sitting with someone who is struggling and helping them with their struggle.
As an undergraduate, she wished that she was made more aware of the importance of taking time for herself. Kirsten wants students to know that self-care is important and that it is normal to go through hard times throughout life.
When Kirsten is not working, she enjoys running and being in nature. She finds beauty in the outside world and enjoys outdoor activities and being out on the water.
Interviewed by Katelyn Chandler, English, Class of 2017
Andrea explains how her father’s struggle with heart disease was one of her main motivators to enter the field of nutrition and become more health-aware. “You can’t change the cards you’re dealt, but you can change the way you play your hand.”
Although Andrea is only on campus a handful of hours each week, she describes her time at Westfield as very fulfilling, and says the students’ youth and energy keeps her on her toes. For Andrea, the best part of her job is being able to help students reach their goals. “It almost brings tears to my eyes when I see their happiness,” she said.
One of Andrea’s favorite things about Westfield is the small size of the student body, and the sense of community the smaller campus allows everyone to build. “It’s great to see the [faculty and] staff from all the different departments working together,” she said. “It’s truly like a family.”
Recalling her own time in college, Andrea said she wishes she had known more about health and nutrition. Andrea says that working with college students is an amazing opportunity, because we’re at an age when learning about nutrition can really impact our lives and futures.
Lynn Paulella Beard
Lynn became interested in counseling after many years of teaching voice to students in higher education. She believes that through developing our own self-awareness—which counseling can help with--personal growth and self-confidence can be achieved. Lynn enjoys encouraging others to find their strengths and identify their personal goals.
Lynn really enjoys how the Westfield State community is like a family. In addition to working as an adjunct voice instructor in the music department, she is currently getting her masters in social work in the WSU graduate social work program and is working as a Relaxation Coach at the Counseling Center.
During her free time, Lynn enjoys spending time with her family, reading, listening to podcasts, and biking.
Lynn learned a lot about mental health and well-being through studying theater and music in college. When you study the arts and music, you have to be very aware of the health of your body and mind. Lynn believes in the importance, for everyone, in taking care of their mental health and physical health so that they are able to go after their dreams.
Master of Arts from NYU in voice and theater
Pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work at Westfield state university
Sean’s favorite part about working with college students is getting to see their ambition and motivation as they venture into adulthood. Sean sees young adulthood as a powerful period of transition--a time in which folks are exploring how to be heard and figuring out important parts of their sense of self, all while developing positive habits and systems which will be with them for the rest of their lives.Sean began his journey to counseling when he was an undergraduate student studying sociology. In addition to his studies, Sean worked as a homeless case manager at Dial/Self Youth and Community Services for two years. Sean grew up through adversity and felt his past brought him to counseling. Learning more about the ways in which different social systems work and impact individuals and communities deepened his interest in social work and affirmed his desire to affect change.
When reflecting on formative social work moments, Sean shared an experience in which he felt he helped a person he was working with feel empowered. Sean notes how important it is for us to feel both closure with and gratefulness for past relationships.
Sean wishes that when he was in college he had known that everybody needs access to some form of mental well-being at times. Checking in with your wellness can be with a counselor or in other ways on campus.
Sean finds the Westfield State University campus to be inviting and accessible. He enjoys the closeness to the town center with a rural feel. In his free time, Sean enjoys running, hiking and biking to keep himself active. He also loves to play cards and games with friends.
Interviewed by Sean McMahon, Outreach Intern, Masters in Social Work, Class of 2022
Maddie’s interest in counseling started when she was a teenager. Her experience in her own therapy, as well as an amazing psychology class in high school, helped her realize that she belonged in a helping profession. This realization was solidified in her experience of helping a close friend through chemotherapy. She felt energized by supporting her friend and their family during such a difficult period.
Maddie loves working with the students here because she feels being a peer helps her connect with them on a deep and meaningful level. She loves that she has a shared experience as a fellow student, as well as the opportunity to help and guide. She loves the City of Westfield because it’s small and accessible but still has a bustling town center. Maddie appreciates that the WSU campus is so beautiful, particularly Courtney Hall which reminds her of a castle that can be seen from anywhere on campus.
One thing Maddie wishes she knew when she started college was how important sleep and a healthy sleep schedule are to her health and wellbeing. She said if she could go back she would pay a little bit more attention to her sleep habits and time management.
To wind down Maddie likes to spend time with her dogs, by playing or just cuddling and napping. She also enjoys walking and relaxing on the beaches in her hometown.
Pursuing a Bachelor of Psychology at WSU Class of 2021
Maddie chose the field of business and marketing after taking a business class in high school that felt both interesting and inspiring.
Maddie’s favorite thing about working with students on campus is the bonds she forms with them. Although she is independent, and enjoys doing her own thing, when it comes to working with others she finds socializing with her peers and forming social connections both important and rewarding.
One counseling moment that was rewarding for Maddie was in her sophomore at Westfield year when a friend was having issues with a roommate. Wanting to offer support, Maddie brought her friend to the counseling center and remembers this as part of the push this friend needed to make a change in the right direction. Maddie sees Westfield as having a range of amazing resources available for students, and identifies the Counseling Center as just one of these important supports.
When she wants to relax, Maddie’s go-to activities are to read a book, exercise (such as running around the track), and play Xbox. Gaming has become a huge stress reliever for her, as it offers her time to wind down and shake off any accumulated stress from the day.
Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing at Westfield State University
Marketing/Outreach intern in the Counseling Center
Interviewed by Maddie Hawkins, Business, Class of 2021
Kennedy chose the field of counseling due to her own personal experiences with counselors. Kennedy enjoys helping others and being a support system for her peers. This is what truly piqued her interest in counseling. She wants to draw upon her previous counselors’ characteristics in her own work with clients, such as being reliable and supportive.
In Kennedy’s eyes, Westfield can be described as a place that feels like home and where she has been able to truly establish herself and her work ethic. From doing group projects to participating in discussions, she is always eager to learn and expand her thinking. During her free time, you can find Kennedy exploring the beauties of nature, whether on a walk, run, or a drive. Kennedy values all ways to get out of the house and see what the world truly has to offer.
Before Kennedy was introduced to her psychology major, she wished that she had known that the WSU Counseling Center is not for people who have a certain diagnosis like depression. Rather, the Center a place for everyone, since we all experience emotions in so many different ways. Kennedy believes that WSU Counselors will help you understand that your life isn’t a single story, rather that there is so much more to the tale.
*Caution: We request that you do not disclose personal or confidential information through email. Because email is not a secure medium, confidentiality of email cannot be guaranteed. If you are a WSU student and in need of personal assistance, please refer to the Counseling Services page for information on how to schedule an appointment with a counselor