Courage for counseling

Debbie Conover reads through her folder as she prepares for a day at work. Photo credit: Ana Ingles

Debbie Conover reads through her folder as she prepares for a day at work. Photo credit: Ana Ingles

Debbie Conover enjoys combing shorelines all over California in search for new sea glass to add to her ever-growing collection.

Done in her spare time, Conover, the student health service coordinator at El Camino, gets a thrill out of looking at her new and old treasured finds. One of her favorite locations to visit is Glass Beach, near Fort Bragg where these are in abundance.

“When you collect sea glass, there are different colors, sizes, textures, and shapes. Each one are unique. It’s like a diamond in the rough,” Conover said.

Similarly to students, each are unique. Nurturing and guidance is necessary.

“Everybody has something about them; it takes a bit more time and compassion,” Conover said.

The reality is individuals handle stress and anxiety differently. The challenges that students face may lead to depression.

“She’s terrific and a kind person. She has helped the Health Center to have a better health profile in the community,” Deborah Herzik, a family nurse practitioner, said.

The Student Health Center offers many services that can aid students’ success. “For the Health of it…” is the slogan from the program’s newsletter. Free psychological counseling and workshops are available to benefit students.

Conover is a strong advocate of, “Where the head goes, the body follows.”

She believes that the gift of the Student Health Center is having the time to actually listen to students in comparison to being in a hospital where people are constantly rushing and something can possibly be overlooked.

Being in her field is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with students — to best serve the needs of the students.

As a little girl, Conover would pretend to be a nurse. Whether it was with her mother acting as her patient or taking care of the injured animals that she brought home, she knew that she wanted to work with people and animals, she said.

Initially, she wanted to pursue teaching. However, at that time, the market was overly-saturated that she pursued nursing instead. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Cal State Dominguez Hills.

Conover has worked for SeaWorld. When there was an opportunity to work with students, she was happy to apply at EC.

Conover is retiring next year and has been with the health center for 15 years.

“It was a pleasure working with her for many years,” Herzik said. “I’m sorry to see her go.”

With the medical and psychological services provided, “Students really give (us) the education. They are the future,” Conover said. “No matter what age you are, you really never stop learning. Always, always be open-minded.”

Important information to know:

  • The Mental Health Awareness Fair will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday on the library lawn.
  • All information is confidential and it will not be part of your permanent school record.
  • Students are entitled to six free psychological counseling sessions for the academic school year.