I remember a time in my undergraduate education when I was really struggling with some bad bouts of depression. I was a junior and was having a hard time balancing my motivation to continue pursuing my degree with my symptoms of depressive episodes. I cannot remember why, but I ended up emailing my advisor, Kris Kays, for a meeting.

I came in and remember her seeing right through me before I even sat down. A few statements into the conversation, I was already weeping. She gracefully put up sticky notes on the window of her door, so as to give me privacy in this moment. She sat with me as I explored some of the feelings and pain I was enduring. There was something about the space she made in that moment that was intrinsically healing for me. She probably noticed my messy hair or sweats, but what really struck me was her ability to help me explore these feelings and thoughts without taking away from the strength and courage I had in me. I never once felt less than when I was around her. Even in the darkest moments, she can help people feel and experience what they need to, while also elegantly weaving in humor and empowerment of the person in front of her.

I cannot remember how long that conversation was, nor all of what we talked about, but I do remember being seen for all I was. I left that encounter feeling drained, tired and ultimately blessed to have had someone like Kris to share such sacred spaces with.”

Benjamin Stanphill
Graduate School of Counseling student