By Sarah Ferns
May 1, 2019
Monica Romeo sits patiently, with a warm and inviting smile, as she sips green tea from a see-through glass mug. Her office is a large open space, situated with a comfortable Peruvian blue couch. In the center of the couch is one small decorative throw pillow embroidered with an orange stripped cat; the cat is wearing a bow tie providing a unique homelike comfort and an overall welcoming atmosphere.
Romeo, PhD, LMHC assistant dean for Student Services, has worked in the counseling center at Genesee Community College since June of 2018 and plans to remain at the College indefinitely. “I love helping students and plan to stay at GCC,” she said. She is a current adjunct professor through the University of Buffalo in the Master’s Program for Mental Health counseling, overviewing and mentoring graduate students’ internship courses. At Medaille University, she is the program director of the M.A. for Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
As the assistant dean of Student Services, Romeo has many roles in the counseling center. The roles are separated by three different areas in the center. The first being access and accommodations, in which she works with students with disabilities, helping to resolve problems/challenges for these students.
Another area Romeo focuses on is health services for students. This area of expertise mostly regards immunization records for upcoming and current students. The department makes sure the mandatory papers are up to date and properly executed, in order to avoid account holds and other complications for the student.
The third department is counseling services, where she assumes the role of backup counselor if one of the primary counselors is unavailable. She provides crisis intervention, as well as special circumstances counseling as needed.
Romeo works with a variety of dedicated staff at the counseling center. Amongst the staff is Jeanie Burdick, LMHC and professor at GCC. Burdick said, “We are fortunate to have someone as skilled and knowledgeable as Monica here with us at GCC.” Romeo has been with the college for less than a year, and has already made a tremendous impact at the counseling center and on the campus in general. “She quickly won the respect of students, staff, and faculty,” said Burdick.
The roles of assistant dean of Student Services are different; however, they are all wellness based. All three departments work together in supporting and assisting students in their college experience. Romeo said her favorite part of her job is “helping to solve student’s dilemmas.” She is most fond of being able to provide services and solutions to students who did not know were available to them through the counseling center.
Romeo said the most important part of student services provided at GCC is “accessibility, and helping students to develop the tools and skills they need to stay successful.” Although students utilize the services provided, there are still many more students who do not, and they could benefit from them.
The counseling center does a lot in order to reach out to students; however, Romeo said “advertisement is a two-way street.” Students have access to the center and its events through email, flyers, and electronic bulletin boards around the campus. Advertisements can be difficult because the staff to student ratio is not equal. Advertisements and announcements are all about meeting in the middle. “Finding balance between the student body and advertisements is tough,” Romeo said.
GCC has an abundance of resources for students on campus, increasing student knowledge and understanding of these services is a goal of Romeo’s. She also wishes to increase accessibility to the center’s services and the work they do. She said, “Students may feel stigmatized by the words associated with the work we do here, but there are many benefits linked to our work. I helped and supported students through their journey at GCC.”