Counselors Meet the Counselors

Texas Township Campus Arcadia Commons Campus
Bronson Healthy Living Campus

Texas Township Campus Counselors


Colleen Olson, MA, LPC
Counselor
Office Number: 9343
269-488-4744
colson@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I am a licensed professional counselor and graduated with my Master of Arts degree in Counseling Education and Counseling Psychology from Western Michigan University. My Bachelor degree is in Recreation Therapy with a minor in Psychology and Health. I have worked in the counseling field for over 15 years at KVCC.

Before becoming a full time counselor, I specialized in working with adult learners who were entering college for the first time to update their skills, explore a new career path or returning to school to complete a degree. Many of these students were downsized from the workplace or returning from the military.


Special Interests
I value all students as individuals with unique strengths, interests and needs. It is my desire to help students clarify their education and career goals and develop an action plan to achieve those goals. I am here to encourage you to explore your options, identify resources needed along the way and support your success inside and outside the classroom.

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Christopher Stroven, MA, LLPC
Counselor
Office Number: 9353
269-488-4282
cstroven@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Counselor Education from Western Michigan University. Previous to coming to KVCC, I advised international students at universities in both New Zealand and the United States, working primarily with ESL students. I also have experience working with middle and high school students as I worked as a school social worker, facilitating prevention and intervention programs. I lived in Salvador Brazil and I love hot weather and being in the outdoors and on the water.

Special Interests
I have a special interest in working with ESL and first generation college students. As a counselor, I am available to advocate for students needs, as well as help guide, support, and counsel students throughout their time at KVCC. I am also available to educate students on their transfer process to a four year university as well as help them develop goals for their future. I practice a holistic approach to counseling, as I encourage students to take advantage of the experiences and resources that are available to them outside the walls of the classroom.

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LaSonda Wells, MA, LPC, NCC
Counselor
Office Number: 9352
269-488-4669
lwells@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I am a licensed professional and nationally certified counselor. I am originally from Chicago, Illinois, where I lived until I joined the United States Air Force at 18. After serving almost 10 years of active duty, I decided to pursue my college education. I have two associate degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, a Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University in Workforce Education and Development, and a Master of Arts in Counseling from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.

What is interesting is that I never set foot on any of these campuses. I earned my education through distant learning at various military instillations. Furthermore, I was a nontraditional-aged student and a single parent. Currently, I am working on my dissertation in completion of my doctorate degree from Western Michigan University.

I chose to share that information not to boast but to encourage all students to believe that they can achieve their goals towards receiving an education. It will be hard work but it can be done!


Special Interests
In my role as an academic counselor and previous career counselor here at KVCC, my passion is to assist all students in finding their unique fit to the world of work, finding a career (not just a job) and the educational path that will lead them to there.

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Leona Coleman, MA, LPC
Counselor
Office Number: 9358
269-488-4233
lcoleman@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I am a graduate of Kalamazoo Central High School. I received my Bachelor's (Sociology) and Master's (Counseling) degrees from Western Michigan University.

Special Interests
I believe that each individual is unique and capable of change and growth. I further believe that all students are gifted. Some open their packages earlier, others later. I am available to provide academic counseling, career counseling, personal counseling, new student orientation, auditing for graduation requirements and transfer student information. I have a special interest in helping students who have more than the average amount of obstacles to overcome in their quest to obtain an education.

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Melissa Farris, MA, LLPC
Counselor
Faculty Office Number: 7338
Student Success Center Office Number: 9358
269-488-4792
mfarris@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I graduated from Bay Path University with an Associate of Science degree (Business/Technology) and a Bachelor of Arts degree (Psychology/Business minor). I graduated Magna Cum Laude and was a member of the Maroon Key Honor Society. I completed my degrees as both a traditional student and then as an adult learner. Upon moving to Michigan from the East Coast, I completed a Master’s degree in Counselor Education from Western Michigan University. I have many years of experience working with and guiding students in a higher education setting. At the age of 19, I became a member of a dynamic Career Planning team at a four year college. It was there, with the help of highly talented mentors, that I truly flourished and developed a passion for counseling in education. Throughout the years, I have worked with students pursuing associates, bachelors and masters degrees at community, public and private colleges and universities, respectively. I have been associated with Kalamazoo Valley Community College since 2005, having worked in the Student Success Center, both Career Counseling and Academic Counseling offices since 2007.

Special Interests
I welcome the opportunity to meet with students who are just beginning to launch his or her college career such as first time college students or first generation students, and the returning student who may be in a different stage in life such as an adult learner who may need to upgrade skills, begin a new career, or develop personal interests. I also enjoy working with students who may have relocated to West Michigan as I have experience relocating and becoming connected in a new community. To do so, I highly recommend and encourage students to take courses of interest, volunteer, and simply be involved. Helping students to make career decisions, create an academic plan, or develop a work-life balance is essential for success. My purpose is to provide the best possible guidance and partner with students to achieve desired goals using my knowledge, encouragement, support, and a smile!

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Noelle Blades-Penn, MA, LPC
Counselor
Office Number: 9358
269-488-4969
nbladespenn@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Education from Western Michigan University. I later returned to Western to complete my Master of Arts degree in Counselor Education. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Teacher in the state of Michigan. Before coming to KVCC, I worked as a middle school counselor in Kalamazoo and Allegan counties, and as a family counselor and family preservation specialist at Bethany Christian Services and Lutheran Social Services of Michigan.

Special Interests
I enjoy working with all students to help them find themselves, their strengths and their abilities while pursuing a meaningful career for themselves. Because of my background working with families in need, I have a special interest in single parents and young parents who are moving forward with their education. I am here to help you navigate your way, and find the resources you need to be successful in life and in your career.

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Lori Erk, MA, LPC
Counselor
269-488-4040
lerk@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I am excited to have been given the special opportunity to work with Kalamazoo Valley Community College students. I feel that my academic background and career experiences have led me toward this exciting opportunity. I am blessed to have had many opportunities to support students as a former special education teacher and guidance counselor. In addition to my work at KVCC, I am also privileged to work as a private practice therapist.

Special Interests
I value the opportunity to utilize my experiences and skills to assist and empower the students at Kalamazoo Community College as they negotiate the many aspects of the college experience. Transitioning into college requires a mix of curiosity, courage and perseverance. Many are undecided at this stage in their lives, I feel that it is vital to support students academically and emotionally during this time. Part of my role as well, is to coordinate with the many resources available at KVCC that are also integral to student success. Utilizing my professional experience and therapeutic skills, I will provide support for each student’s pursuit of academic and other life successes.

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Natalie York, MA, LLPC, NCC
Counselor
269-488-4040
nyork@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I received my Master of Arts degree in Counseling Education and Counseling Psychology from Western Michigan University and my Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and Sociology from Grand Valley State University. I have an Associate of Arts degree from Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Kalamazoo Valley was a highlight in my educational and athletic experience.

I have been in the education field for more than nine years. I was a physical education teacher in Parchment for five years and have a wide array of experiences coaching tennis from the varsity level to elementary students. I was a tennis player for Kalamazoo Valley for two years and finished my last two years playing tennis for Grand Valley State University.


Special Interests
I truly believe in community colleges and the variety of opportunities it provides for all students of all ages. As a graduate of Kalamazoo Valley, I am proud to be a counselor assisting students in how to reach their education, career, and personal goals. I am here to assist students in the steps they need to take in order to reach their goals and provide all of the information they need to make the best decision for themselves. I inform and encourage students to utilize the resources at Kalamazoo Valley and in the community in order to be successful in and after college.

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Ciji C. Gamble, MA, LPC, NCC
Kalamazoo Promise Counselor
Office Number: 9319
269-488-4692
cgamble@kvcc.edu

Background Information
Prior to working within the field of counseling I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Engineering with a Business concentration from Michigan State University. I had the opportunity to work in a Fortune 500 company, and while I learned that I love to strategically break down problems, I also learned that I love to break down personal problems rather than technical. This led me to Western Michigan University where I received a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology and since, I’ve worked within higher education and also provide counseling at a local private practice. Additionally, I am a Kalamazoo native who completed my entire primary and secondary education within Kalamazoo Public Schools, which is why I am elated to be able to assist and provide counseling to the Kalamazoo Promise scholarship recipients.

Special Interests
Whether planning to transfer, pursue a certification, or receive an associate degree, I work with each student based upon their desired goals and we collaboratively develop a plan to achieve these set goals. When counseling, I do so with a belief that each student possesses an internal fortitude and my goal is to help them identify, develop and utilize this strength to succeed academically and beyond.

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Arcadia Commons Campus Counselors

Heidi Stevens, MA, LPC, NCC
Counselor
Office Number: ACC120
269-373-7834
hstevens@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and History from Albion College, and a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Education and Counseling Psychology at Western Michigan University. While at WMU, I also earned a certificate in Holistic Health. I am a licensed professional counselor, and have worked at the Arcadia Commons Campus since 1999.

Special Interests
I believe that always being aware of your options is crucial to your success as a student. My goal is to help you discover your options, and to support you during your journey at Kalamazoo Valley. I also believe that no two students are exactly alike. Because of this, I strive to treat each person as a true individual. You will be respected for the unique skills, ideas, and background you bring to the table. I am available to assist you with academic counseling, new student orientation, graduation audits, transfer student information, and personal counseling.

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Patricia Pallett, MA, LPC
Counselor
Office Number: ACC120
269-373-7841
ppallett@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science and Social Work as well as a Masters Degree in Counseling & Personnel from Western Michigan University. I have counseling, admissions, and financial aid experience in post-secondary school settings. I attended a community college before transferring to WMU and it was the best first step in my transition to a large university. I have been here a short time but truly enjoy the students, staff and facility.

Special Interests
I enjoy working with students of all ages as they decide on their educational and career goals. I try to provide many different ideas and options for each student as they make career decisions. I feel it is important for students to be on the right track for their own individual plans. It is important for each student to be aware of program requirements for KVCC and transferring to other schools.

About My Work at KVCC
I am available to assist with admissions information, new student orientation, academic advising, personal and career counseling, financial aid questions, graduation audits, and transferring to other schools.

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Bronson Healthy Living Campus Counselors

Christopher Stroven, MA, LLPC
Counselor
Office Number: 210
269-548-3300
cstroven@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Counselor Education from Western Michigan University. Previous to coming to KVCC, I advised international students at universities in both New Zealand and the United States, working primarily with ESL students. I also have experience working with middle and high school students as I worked as a school social worker, facilitating prevention and intervention programs. I lived in Salvador Brazil and I love hot weather and being in the outdoors and on the water.

Special Interests
I have a special interest in working with ESL and first generation college students. As a counselor, I am available to advocate for students needs, as well as help guide, support, and counsel students throughout their time at KVCC. I am also available to educate students on their transfer process to a four year university as well as help them develop goals for their future. I practice a holistic approach to counseling, as I encourage students to take advantage of the experiences and resources that are available to them outside the walls of the classroom.

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