After 20 years as the Assistant Director of Alcohol and Other Drug Education, Mark Williams has decided to call it a career. VSU will hold a ceremony to celebrate his work on Friday.
Along his journey to retirement, Williams has helped create a supportive culture in the Counseling Center and has made a lasting impact on his friends and colleagues.
“Mark was such a kind person, one of the most honest and encouraging men you could ever interact with,” Dr. Tricia Hale, Director at the Counseling Center, said. “He was such a great asset to the Counseling Center because his ability to work with kids [whom] suffered with alcohol and drug abuse allowed us to focus on a lot of mental health students and even help find a connection between the two if necessary.”
Williams joined the VSU staff after retiring from the Air Force, where he also worked as a substance abuse coordinator. He mentioned how a lot of his patients were around the same age group, which allowed a pretty seamless transition.
“Teaching was the added bonus,” Williams said. “Being able to add the KARMA class program that I was able to teach, along with treatment of addictions, was something that allowed us to create more exposure to what we did here at the Counseling Center.”
KARMA, which is short for knowledge, awareness, respect, maturity and achievement, aims to educate students on how they can help others whom are struggling with issues like substance abuse, sexually-transmitted diseases and eating disorders.
In addition to classes like KARMA, Williams’ overall personality made him a great person for the students he helped and the coworkers in his department.
“One of the best things about Mark is that he is always willing to help you out,” Holly Wright, a counselor at the Counseling Center, said. “He has just done so much to help grow the center. From teaching and outreach programs he helped start, plus just being an active and supportive listener. He always told me to believe in myself and the work we do here, and I will miss the wisdom, experience and humor he provided every day.”
Wright has known and worked with Williams for 12 years.
While Williams has left feeling deeply satisfied with his time here at VSU, he wants to see the growth and outreach at the VSU Counseling Center continue to develop.
“We’ve done a lot of great things to increase exposure at the Counseling Center, but we should always allow kids to remember they have people here to help them,” he said. “It is time we destigmatize mental health and substance abuse. Students shouldn’t feel ashamed to seek the help they need.”
Williams’ retirement ceremony and plaque will be awarded in meeting room 1B, on the third floor of the Student Union from 2-3 p.m. He plans on savoring his last moments at VSU.
“I have been blessed with gracious and caring coworkers and incredibly supportive supervision, and of course, great students. There is an energy on a college campus that you just don’t find anywhere else.”
Written by Kyle Grondin, Staff Writer. Graphic courtesy of The Spectator.