KOKOMO, Ind. — Making a successful transition to college can be difficult.
For those from a minority or underrepresented background, having someone to help you who identifies with your struggles can make all the difference.
Recognizing that special need, Indiana University Kokomo has added free counseling services to its Multicultural Center, in addition to the free services available to all students through the campus Office of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).
Dr. Kimberly Morris will offer individual appointments and group sessions through the Center, serving the unique needs of the campus’s growing population of students of color.
“Having that role in the Multicultural Center is important so students know they have an advocate for their emotional well-being, as well as their academics,” Morris said. “As a person of color, we don’t get the opportunity to work with providers because services aren’t available, or we don’t know how to get them.”
Tess Barker, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management, said in the last six years, the percentage of IU Kokomo students of color has increased from about 13 percent to 15 percent, while requests for services from CAPS has nearly doubled.
“As we considered adding additional counselors to CAPS, it made sense to add someone who had expertise and strong competencies in providing services to people of color,” she said, adding that IU’s Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA) had grant funding available related to addressing racial disparities in health care.
Barker added that there can be a stigma about receiving mental health care services among some minority communities. Placing Morris in the Multicultural Center is one way to remove that stigma.
“We see the Center as a home, where students will hang out between classes, and connect with their peers, as well as with staff and faculty,” she said. “Embedding these services there will promote connections, and destigmatize accessing mental health care services, which is really important.”
Morris can also help with more typical issues that all students face when adjusting to college, from a perspective of shared understanding.
“Just like other students who are coming to campus, I think the transition to college is difficult,” she said. “Some of our students of color may be coming from other places, and may have a hard time adjusting to small town middle America.”
Morris is now available for both virtual and in-person appointments, with some evening and weekend availability. To make an appointment with Morris or any CAPS provider, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 765-455-9203.
The Multicultural Center is in the Kelley Student Center, Room 265. Its goal is to promote a welcoming and positive campus climate, and to cultivate a diverse, inclusive environment that supports equal access, participation, and representation on campus. Open to all students, it includes the Black Student Center, LGBTQ Center, Office of Campus Diversity, Latinos Unidos: Hispanic Center, International Student Services, and the Accessibility Center.