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Faculty/Staff Focus: January 2021

January 4, 2021

Meet College Counselor and 17-year Fenwick veteran Ms. Emily Anderson, who also teaches health to Friars’ students and previously served as a Class Counselor.

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What is your educational background?

EA: I attended Mt. Mansfield Union High School in Jericho, Vermont, and attained a bachelor's degree in psychology at North Park University in Chicago. A couple of years following, I obtained a master’s degree in social work at Loyola University Chicago, followed by a master’s in counseling from Northeastern Illinois University.

What did you do prior to becoming a counselor at Fenwick?

EA: I was an admissions officer at North Park University. I read applications, helped with admission decisions and aided high-school students with the admission process from the college side.

What are you currently reading for enjoyment?

EA: Currently I am reading The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. It’s “a saga of Churchill, family and defiance during the blitz” [WWII] and is written by the same author who wrote Devil in the White City.

What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?

EA: I love the theater and I love music, so I especially love musicals. I also love traveling. Lately, I have been able to travel internationally and I think it’s fair to say that I now have the “travel bug.” I am already planning my next trip for when we are able to travel again. I also have two young nephews whom I love to play with and who keep me well entertained.

To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?

EA: Unfortunately, I was not (and still am not!) an athletic person. I’m lucky if I don’t hurt myself walking. Therefore, I got myself involved in theater in high school. I wasn’t the best on stage, but that didn’t matter. I loved the time spent with friends and, of course, our annual musical was always my favorite performance. I also was involved in choir in high school and was a member of my high school’s chapter of National Honor Society as well. In college I was a member of the Psychology Club and volunteered as a campus tour guide in our admission’s office for prospective students.

Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?

EA: In the past, I was the moderator for Speech Club, and currently I am the moderator for National Honor Society. I am also the Test Coordinator at Fenwick, meaning I organize and run the standardized testing (ACT and SAT) that is held here.

What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?

EA: What I love most about our Fenwick students, and I think what makes our students unique, is their wide range of interests and their willingness to accept one another for these interests. Our students can be, and are, involved in anything. When it comes to participation in sports and clubs, stereotypes do not exist. Our students embrace their interests and individuality without the fears of labeling that may exist at other high schools.

When did you decide to become a counselor, and why did you choose this field?

EA: I have known since high school that I wanted a profession where I could help people and feel as if I was making a difference in their lives. I know that life can be challenging, and if there is any way I can make things a bit easier for someone, I want to do so. This is true for everyone, but particularly true for younger individuals. I can remember the challenges of high school and how hard it was to navigate not only the academic difficulties but the social difficulties as well. Now, as a college counselor, I am very excited to help guide students toward finding the perfect college for them -- one that not only will lead them toward success but will also provide the ideal college fit and experience. I hope that the support I provide can make a difference for someone, even if it is just a small one.

What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in counseling?

EA: As a counselor, one at times can share in the heartbreak of our students. Some of the challenges our youth face today are so much more extensive than what I experienced at their age. I think, as a counselor, it is incredibly important to not always fall to heartbreak ourselves, but to do our best to simply just be there. What students need most is support, a calming presence and a listening ear.

What are your favorite classes to teach?

EA: Health! I only teach Health, but I think even if I taught something else Health would be my favorite. It encompasses all that I find interesting and important. Strong mental health, physical health and emotional health is really all that counselors could wish for their students. Teaching individuals the importance of all three, and how best to attain it, is something that I thoroughly enjoy.

What is the greatest success you have had in counseling?

EA: Any time I have a student stop by to visit, or send me an email, after they have graduated from Fenwick is always so fulfilling. I love hearing how successful my students have become and, more importantly, how happy they are in life.

What challenges face students today?

EA: I feel that advances in technology are both a blessing and a curse. Obviously, this past year, without technology things would have been much more challenging. Technology has allowed us to teach, support and meet with our students remotely. It has allowed us to maintain contact with loved ones, even when we had to maintain physically distant.

However, for our young people, technology has also proven, in my opinion, to be a curse. When I was younger, if I was experiencing struggles socially, I knew I could go home and escape. Our young people today, due to technology, are not able to escape. They are constantly reminded of the parties they were not invited to, and any bullying occurring at school can continue to occur online once the student is home. Technology also can take away the personal, face-to-face contact and actual communication that is so important if one wants to feel a close connection with another person.

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