Darcy Dawson ‘04 ‘10C sits next to the window in her office, room 306 in the Fred Brown Center on Doane's Lincoln campus location.
Darcy Dawson ‘04 ‘10C sits next to the window in her office, room 306 in the Fred Brown Center on Doane's Lincoln campus location. Dawson joined Doane in August as the university's third professional counselor to provide counseling services to students on the Crete campus, as well as the Lincoln and Omaha campus locations, and online as long as the student is a resident of Nebraska.

There’s plenty that has changed at Doane in the years since Darcy Dawson ‘04 ‘10C began her undergraduate studies in Crete. But at the same time, it feels just like home to her. The library still smells like old books. The Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) building, in Lincoln, smells just as she remembers it, too.

“I keep feeling like I’ve been here longer than a month. It’s all familiar,” she said.

Dawson joined in August as Doane’s third full-time professional counselor, providing services to students in Crete, and students who are enrolled in Doane programs offered in Lincoln, Omaha and online, if the student resides in Nebraska. Myron Parsley, counseling director, and Raegan Bartholomew, also provide counseling services on the Crete campus (Bartholomew is currently on maternity leave.) An intern counselor, Mindy Parker, also works one day per week on the residential campus.

Dawson works four days a week from Crete, and on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Lincoln, in room 306 of the Fred Brown Center. For any student who can’t make an in-person appointment, she is also available through telehealth.

“It’s so accessible,” she said. “All you have to do is email us.”

There’s no cost to see Doane’s counselors. No insurance is needed. You don’t have to tell your parents or family that you’re seeing a counselor. And there are no requirements — you can come just once, or as often as needed.

“It’s stressful to be in school, so it’s always good to talk to somebody if you need it,” Dawson said.

She remembers that feeling from her own first year on campus, wishing that she had someone to talk to as she adjusted to living away from home, and learned to balance her schoolwork and co-curricular activities. For non-residential students, you often have the additional stress of holding a full-time job and caring for family. She knows that experience, too, from going through the MAC program as she prepared to switch careers.

In fact, her undergraduate degree is in business administration, with a minor in psychology. After graduation, she worked at Ameritas in Lincoln, helping clients with their retirement plans. While she enjoyed the job, it wasn’t as fulfilling as she hoped, and she made use of the company’s tuition assistance to return to school.

Dawson had good experiences at Doane. She remembered how easy it was to talk with her professors, how approachable they were if she had questions or just needed to chat. Even better, the Lincoln campus location was just down the street from Ameritas, and the MAC offered evening classes. She didn’t need to pause the rest of her life to complete her master’s degree.

She completed a clinical internship at the Munroe-Meyer Institute, a part of the University of Nebraska Medical Center focused on children, and continued with the institute at a satellite office in York after graduating. For the next decade, she worked at clinics in Grand Island and Lincoln, primarily with children and families.

Dawson was just thinking it would be nice to work with college-age students when the counseling position at Doane opened up. And while it feels like returning home for Dawson, she did notice one big change compared to her undergraduate experience two decades ago.

“The stigma against mental health has decreased a lot,” she said. “Especially for students on the residential campus.”

She hopes now to bring that acceptance of mental health to students attending classes in Lincoln, Omaha and online. It’s a little slow to start, but likely to gain traction as awareness of counseling availability grows.

After all, it just takes one email to get started.

Students seeking mental health counseling can reach Darcy Dawson at [email protected]. Students on Doane’s residential campus can also email Myron Parsley at [email protected] or Mindy Parker at [email protected]. Raegan Bartholomew will also return to provide counseling services in Crete with her therapy dog, Ase, later in the semester following her maternity leave.