April 18, 2022

Jaleeia ThompsonJaleeia Thompson has loved her time studying Social Work at Columbia College, but everything changed when she was introduced to the Cope and Connect program, a peer-led counseling program overseen by the Office of Counseling Services. Following an assignment in her Social Work class, Jaleeia decided to start a program that would allow participants to vent their feelings and give them a safe place to be “unapologetically themselves.” Jaleeia created a flyer and submitted it to be shared in the Koala Weekly. Before the flyer was published, it caught the attention of Director of Counseling Services, Hiluv Johnson. Hiluv connected with Jaleeia, proposing instead a revamp of the existing program of Cope and Connect. Through her work with the Office of Counseling Services, Jaleeia has found her passion and is looking toward a future in the field of Social Work. After graduation, Jaleeia plans to continue her education through a Masters of Social Work program.

Columbia College has proven to be a hugely supportive village for Jaleeia. She shared that the small classes and professors have helped her to get to where she is today, and she knows will see her through well beyond graduation. She believes that the helpful faculty and fellow students have pushed her to be the best version of herself, and she is excited to see where her educational journey, started here at Columbia College, leads her next.

Jaleeia believes that mental health has a huge effect on the college experience. With the incredibly busy and demanding nature of student life, there is always something to be done. Students greatly benefit from having an outlet to manage their stress and share their feelings with others who understand their struggles. Attending classes, juggling homework, tests, and discussion posts already feels like a full-time job. With many students having an additional job of their own, social activities, relationships, and family stress to manage in addition to their responsibilities as a student, stress management tools are key.

Jaleeia is committed to giving her peers a safe space, while gaining valuable experience in leading and planning small group discussions with Cope and Connect. She shared that her biggest takeaway from working with Cope and Connect was the opportunity to learn from Mila Burgess-Conway. Having Mila as a mentor gave her someone to look up to, and she looks forward to the opportunity to do the same for girls of all ages, races, and socio-economic backgrounds through a field of work in which she truly believes. The first step to finding your passion is feeling seen and heard, the next is being supported, and the result is the empowerment to share it with others. Jaleeia Thompson experienced each of these as a student at Columbia College.

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