New counseling associate director hopes to implement campus wellness programs


Rob Le Cates

Students walk outside the Human Services Building Monday afternoon.

Adriana Hernandez-Santana, Campus Reporter

Eastern’s new Associate Director of the Counseling Clinic, Jessica Milburn, said the clinic is undergoing many transitions and implementing new ideas.

Milburn expressed excitement about her new position on campus. She said the department is currently in the process of making many transitions within the clinic, along with implementing a few new ideas. 

One of Milburn’s future goals is to implement multiple campus-wide wellness programs, offering support to both faculty and students.

Along with this care, she wants to provide education on coping mechanisms. Milburn gave a few examples like going to the Student Recreation Center to exercise and participating in art as a way to cope.

She said while typical in-person talk therapy might work for some, it may not work for everyone. 

One of Milburn’s concerns is to address the waitlist on campus, not wanting students to be left hanging.

“My goal is, whether we have a waitlist or not, the students are linked with something, you know? ” Milburn said. 

Milburn wants to better link students with the Health Education Resource Center. The center provides students with proper resources on stress management, nutrition and more.

Some of these resources could include just listening to the student, education on coping skills, or potentially linking them to outlets to help manage stress.

Another addition to the Counseling Clinic includes the trimming of paperwork, which will make it quicker and easier for both students and counselors.

Milburn worked in several positions at LifeLinks in Mattoon, starting in 2013 while she was in her graduate program at Eastern. 

She worked as a screening, assessment and support services counselor, an outpatient therapist and as a crisis counselor, finally leaving in April 2018, after nearly six years of work.

She then took a supervisor position at One Hope United in Effingham, where she stayed for a year and eight months. In this role, she oversaw counselors who worked with families and children in foster care and guided counselors in understanding trauma-informed care.

After leaving, she took her final position before Eastern at Carle Health in Urbana, Ill. as a licensed clinical professional counselor.

Milburn said she always wanted to work in higher education but never had the chance to do so, and Eastern was the perfect place for her. 

She said that part of the reason she came back to Charleston is that she loves the area. 

“I like the outdoors,” Milburn said. “They have a new bike trail from Charleston to Mattoon. There’s all sorts of neat little things around here.”

In her free time, she likes to go to the lake with her fiancé Ray and step-daughter Clair. They take trips to Lake Charleston and Casey to see the gigantic attractions. She also loves to play with her two cats, Sparkles and Kiki, and her two dogs Loki and Lily. 

She understands the pressure of her career path but is determined to ensure the safety of all her clients. “Oftentimes you can deescalate the situation just by listening to someone,” Milburn said. 

Adriana Hernandez-Santana is senior broadcast journalism major. She can be reached at 217-581-2812.