This week’s hidden figure is a Staff Counselor in the Buchanan Kiewit Wellness Center. She talks with students one-on-one about anything under the sun, like depression, anxiety, stress, family and interpersonal traumas. Her name is Krystal Light. I’m not kidding.
Prior to Lawrence, Light worked in outpatient mental health and with children in foster care. This is her first time working on a college campus. The work she does at Lawrence is more crisis counseling than ongoing counseling, which means that students can come in and talk anytime they need to rather than waiting for an appointment that may not be easy to get to. At Lawrence, she finds the concept of a residential college unique, as she did not have that college experience. She attended Truman State University in Missouri. She believes that students living on campus provide her the opportunity to reach more people and make meaningful change. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English from Lindenwood University, and a Master’s in Arts and Professional Counseling. She was initially a Math and English major because she wanted to be a teacher. However, her natural interest in her psychology classes caused her to change her major.
“When I graduated I did social work, and as I started working with people I realized they needed more support than I was capable of giving at the time, so I went back for my Master’s,” added Light.
Light admires the resilience of Lawrence students, despite the fact that we may be overwhelmed with the demands of a shortened schedule. She also admires the advocacy to push to create change on campus, as that is how change occurs. In her college experience, students were good at being frustrated and going about their day, and to her that is not a healthy way to live.
“Working with students, seeing change and seeing them believe in themselves is what keeps me going,” stated Light.
Light spends the majority of her time with her five kids. She tries to have movies and family game nights. When she gets some “me time,” she enjoys cooking. Family soul food dinners have made a huge impact on her life. When she has time, once a month she will try some of her family’s recipes. Her five-year-old daughter gets on a stool and helps her. She does not play an instrument but appreciates listening to music, particularly soul and jazz. She will try to find something calming that speaks to her. Her most favorite thing on her desk is her miniature figurines. Her daughter likes to put figurines in her bag before she leaves for work to make her happy. “Sheriff Callie,” a cat in a pink cowboy hat, has a home in her office and is her new favorite.
Light is not interested in pursuing a career at the administrative level, even though that also serves an important purpose. In fifteen years she sees herself at the same position working one-on-one with students to impact change.
One thing students may not know about Light is that she had a family member who struggled with severe mental health issues, and it didn’t end well for him. Her family had a stigma of shame and guilt and reluctance to ask for help. She wishes she grew up with a different model in her family where it is okay to ask for help when you are struggling. She believes a healthy way to live is knowing that you are not alone and that you can talk about it instead of thinking you are weak or that your feelings are wrong.
When asked her inspiration, Light responded, “My mother inspires me. She had a great work ethic — I didn’t realize how much she was working. I saw her go through so much and navigate through it successfully. The unconditional support and love that I grew up with is what I want to give to not just my family, but to others.”
Light is full of love and light, and is a great supporter of students who need a little push to get back on their feet. She promotes a safe and healthy community, making a huge impact on campus. Light, more light!