Tempest Anderson describes her time as a graduate student in the master’s in counseling program at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) as “amazing and life-changing,” and now as director of the counseling center, she is again investing herself in the campus community.
A Richmond native who graduated from Mary Baldwin University’s social work program in 2010 and from EMU’s graduate counseling program in 2016, Anderson has ample experience in the higher education environment: She has interned or worked at Shenandoah University, Bridgewater College, James Madison University and EMU.
At a time when mental health issues are rising among college students, Vice President of Student Life Jim Smucker says the director of counseling provides “services that are crucial to the health and well-being of our students.”
“We did an extensive search, and the committee was unanimous in our selection of Tempest,” Smucker said. “She has shown herself to be invested and proactive in working with students in the higher education environment, and we think her leadership in providing existing services and establishing new services will make a great contribution to the campus community.”
In her role, Anderson is responsible for administrative coordination of all counseling services provided to students, faculty and staff. In addition to providing direct clinical services, she will facilitate a new expansion of services that includes partnering with the master’s in counseling program to place interns and practicum students in center-based clinical training.
Among other initiatives, Anderson envisions “porch programming” — literally, on the Suter House porch — for students to get to know the center staff.
Drawn back by ‘family feel’
While working in child protective services at the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Department of Social Services from 2010 through 2013, Anderson was often asked by colleagues about pursuing a counseling degree.
Eventually she did start looking into graduate programs, and, with encouragement from a co-worker, decided to visit EMU. She attended an addictions class that she remembers was “enlightening,” and that same day spoke with Teresa Haase, director of the master’s in counseling program.
“It was a conversation that was very life-changing,” Anderson said. “She really spoke to my vision for life, and my hope and joy that I have in empowering and encouraging people. She encouraged me to apply, and I was like, ‘Can I do it today?’ It just felt very much like a family.”
That feeling of “family” is one that drew her back to EMU, and has shaped her work with young adults. Belonging in a community is the basis for thriving, Anderson said. “It is in community where you learn how to establish healthy relationships, explore mentorship, and learn to grow to your fullest potential. We are not meant to live this life alone. We are meant to live together, love one another, support one another, and affirm each other in our purposes.”
‘A greater future’
Anderson sees working with people in hard times as a mission of hope. “Hope does not mean ignoring your present circumstances. On the contrary, it dares you to embrace them with faith that there is a greater future in store,” she said. Her previous work experiences at different universities, she believes, gives her a “fresh perspective” about running a college counseling center and responding to students’ needs and desires.
“College is such a time of exploration, discovery, and transformation,” she said. “It’s a time of vulnerability but also amazing opportunity. My hope as a director is to provide a safe space for students to take advantage of this great opportunity and learn healthy ways of establishing their identities.”