Three Students Teach More Than 300 Students!

Three Students Teach More Than 300 Students!

Michelle Bergmann

 Last spring our Psychology Program interns did an amazing job of providing mental health workshops to all students at Keene Adventist Elementary School (KAES) and Chisholm Trail Academy (CTA) in Keene, Texas, just minutes away from Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU). The workshops were intended to provide education for the students on emotional regulation skills.

 In the spirit of SWAU’s mission of always sharing knowledge, faith, and service, psychology intern Lea Cuevas explains what knowledge they hoped to impart to the students during their workshops, “The primary message we tasked to teach the students was about normalizing the experience and expression of the array of emotions that come with being a human in these difficult times. We also taught them empirically supported coping skills to help them regulate their emotions effectively and safely. After surveying and analyzing the students’ needs assessment, we determined that the main issues they were facing were anxiety, depression, and emotional regulation. We collectively desired for the students to take away from our workshops resources for their mental health.”

 Psychology intern Jennifer Lopez points out, “During our internship, we had the opportunity to share our faith by following Jesus’ example. Jesus cares for every individual. He teaches us that there is no greater importance than being as humble as a child, but also welcoming children and younger ones into the community of His name. We were able to practice that during our internship as we tended to the younger ones’ needs by providing some strategies on how to manage their stress, anxiety, and emotion regulation.”

 The inspiration for these workshops developed out of the interns' awareness of a need they recognized within the Keene community and a willingness to fulfill that need through their service, explains psychology intern Jazper Dawkins, “In our classes at Southwestern, we learned that psychoeducation is one of the best tools to use to help others understand the importance of mental health, a topic that is often not talked about. After learning about how many schools do not have mental health professionals on their campus, we wanted to see how we could help students at both KAES and CTA, especially after having to adjust to life after the peak of the pandemic. We met with teachers, and through their feedback of changes they had noted within the student body, we knew our workshops would not only help the students but start the conversation about mental health within those schools.”

 After the interns' workshops, SWAU Professors Dr. Santos and Rico spoke with the principals of both schools and shared concerns about students who had verbalized troubling behaviors. It also gave them the chance to encourage the principals to coach their students to seek professional help when they need it.

 After such a positive response in the Keene community to the interns’ efforts, Dr. Santos says, “We are excited to continue to expand our program and see it grow!”

Each of the interns, Lea, Jennifer, and Jazper, desire to further their education through graduate studies. Lea and Jazper were accepted into the Counseling and Development master’s degree program at Texas Women’s University, where they will continue to pursue a career in mental health. Jennifer would like to pursue graduate studies in social work.

 If you would like to study psychology, come to Southwestern Adventist University. Learn under our leading professors in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. Grow in your faith. Then put your faith into practice by training to serve Christ and others in life-changing ways!

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