June 07, 2013
Students benefit from Rosemary Simmons' compassion, skills
The members of our faculty and staff are incredibly talented. They bring impressive expertise to campus every day, and they are passionate about helping SIU students prepare for success in careers and in life.
They also are very caring individuals. They recognize that while college is a time of learning, growth and fun for students, it can be very stressful. Rosemary Simmons, director of our Counseling Center, appreciates the fact that students rely on the services she and her staff offer.
“There is a lot of stigma around mental health, but our students are utilizing our services well,” she said. “We see 10 to 12 percent of our population, and I consider that to be a positive. It means they are coming in to get help with all of those normal transitions, rather than struggling through them on their own.”
At other universities the size of SIU, 6 percent of students seek help.
“Students here will help each other,” Rosemary said. “We get calls from faculty, staff, and resident assistants, but we also hear from friends who are concerned about their roommate or best friend. The culture of young adults caring about each other is a real positive. We have such a high utilization rate because students are encouraging other students. That flies in the face of people thinking that students are self-focused.”
With more than 25 years of experience at the Counseling Center – the last seven as director -- Rosemary knows our students as well as anyone on campus. An Iowa native, she holds master’s and doctoral degrees in counseling psychology from SIU. In addition to her expertise and experience, Rosemary brings compassion to every situation – including when serving as a first responder, no matter the time of day or night. Being a good listener, she emphasizes, is essential.
“Unfortunately in our society, with multi-tasking and productivity, the fast pace, we often don’t get the privilege of just sitting with someone and really listening to them, just being in that moment,” she said. “To clear your mind and be present with someone in that moment, to really hear what they are saying and the nuances, that’s a gift to give to someone. It is a gift to me as well because that person has opened up that door for me to be there. I can’t describe how rewarding that is.”
One of the best indicators of colleagues’ respect for Rosemary was her nomination for a 2013 Faculty and Staff Excellence Award. I had the pleasure of presenting Rosemary with her award during a ceremony earlier this spring. While gratified with the well-deserved recognition, Rosemary is quick to acknowledge the many contributions of colleagues.
“Over my 25 years here, I really have appreciated how easy it has been to work with other colleagues,” she said. “I have always found people willing to pitch in for a good cause. Part of the reason I have been here for so long is because it is so rewarding to work with the students and my colleagues on campus.”
With her professionalism, commitment and genuine warmth, it is easy to understand why Rosemary is an inspiration to so many on our campus.