​​​​​​Professional Counseling Staff

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Melissa Hutchinson, MA, LPC, NCC
Interim Director of Counseling Services  

Melissa views trust as the heart of the counseling relationship and works hard to build this trust with each and every student. She recognizes that each student is unique, and their approach to problem solving will also be unique. She tailors the counseling process to meet those unique needs. She encourages each student to be an active participant in their own self-exploration and problem solving. She will work with students to identify goals and then will help them work towards those goals by exploring relevant life areas; including personal development, emotional, social, and academics. Melissa provides individual and group services, as well as supervision for graduate student interns. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Michigan State University and her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Central Michigan University. She has also earned the National Certified Counselor credential. Melissa has been at the CMU Counseling Center since 2004.


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Chun-Fang Frank Kuo, Ph.D., LLP, LPC
Associate Director  
Counseling is a time clients share their feelings and thoughts in a safe environment. Counseling is also a process in which the counselor helps clients understand their problems. The counselor assists clients in identifying unhealthy behavioral patterns and helps them develop a healthy balance in his or her life. Frank integrates interpersonal, cognitive, behavioral and family frameworks into his clinical work. Frank provides general counseling. His areas of interest include multicultural issues, international student outreach, diversity issues and cross-cultural adjustment, spirituality issues, supervision and training, and group counseling. He is able to​ provide bilingual counseling in English and Mandarin Chinese. Before beginning his career at CMU, Frank was a professional counselor/assistant professor at Old Dominion University Office of Counseling Services in Virginia and a counselor at Truman State University Counseling Services in Kirksville, MO. Frank received his M.S. in Counseling and Counselor Education at Indiana University at Bloomington, IN. He earned his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, MO, and completed his pre-doctoral internship in Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh University Counseling Center.

Editing Tools group. Tab 1 of 2.

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Michelle Bigard, MSW, LMSW 

Michelle considers it an honor to meet with students to make their lives more manageable and fulfilling.  She believes in the person’s capacity to grow and change and acknowledges the various physical, psychological, social, emotional, spiritual and cultural dimensions that make each student unique.    She draws upon students inherent strengths and encourages the use and/or enhancement of their problem solving abilities, creativity, social and family networks, access to resources, coping skills and values and beliefs to make desired change in their lives.  In an atmosphere of trust, respect and accountability, she will work together with you to understand and define the issues you want to address and assist you in meeting your goals. Michelle has worked primarily in the Canadian mental health field with a focus on trauma issues prior working at the CMU Counseling Center in 2001. She earned a Masters of Social Work from Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

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Kristie Birchmeier, MA, LPC
Counseling provided to students focusing on internal as well as external issues. Making the decision to seek counseling is one of many first steps in facilitating positive change in a person's life. I tend to take a client centered and cognitive-behavioral approach in counseling, making sure that each session addresses the needs of the client. Education: BS in Psychology and Masters Degree in Professional Counseling both from Central Michigan University.

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Cory Cole, MSW, LMSW
Counseling provided to focus on personal or academic concerns of students. Has worked in the public and private sectors, in a variety of clinical and supervisory positions. Education: Master of Social Work from Michigan State University.

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Atefeh E. Jenrow, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC
I received 
a master’s degree in counseling with a post master’s specialization in mental health counseling from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan in 1999. I am a fully Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) as well as a Limited Licensed Psychologist (LLP) in the State of Michigan. I am a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC).

I have worked as a therapist in different settings, including Harbor Oaks Hospital, New Baltimore, Michigan, Pioneer Counseling in Clinton Township, Michigan, Northland Clinics in Farmington Hills and Rochester, Michigan and The Guidance Center in Southgate, Michigan.  My experience has been working with people facing various acute, emerging and/or ongoing mental health challenges. My internship in mental health counseling at Oakland University Counseling Center included working with students and community members on mental health and career counseling, using psychological testing and assessments when necessary.

​In my professional life I have worked with adults and families, but have specially enjoyed working with college students both as newly independent adults and members of the university family facing their own unique trials and allowing me to be a member of their support team as they navigate potential career options, mental health issues and life stages.

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Brooke Oliver-Hempenstall, MA, LPC
Director, Sexual Aggression Services
I have worked in the field of sexual aggression and domestic violence since I was an undergraduate student, volunteering with SAPA (Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates) at Central Michigan University for three years. I completed my Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from CMU and began my work as a Domestic Violence Advocate for nearly eight years with a women’s shelter in Northern Michigan. During that time, I completed my Master of Arts Degree in Professional & School Counseling from Central Michigan University. Since receiving my Masters, I have worked at both CMU as the Sexual Aggression Dedicated Counselor and Associate Coordinator of Sexual Aggression Services and as the Director of a Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault shelter, River House, Inc. I have advocated for creating positive systems change to develop and enhance services, policies and procedures that impact the lives of those who have been effected by sexual assault and domestic violence. I believe that through education, a sense of safety, understanding and support, survivors and victims of sexual assault and domestic violence can be empowered to reclaim their power, rights and voice.

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Ross J. Rapaport, Ph.D., LPC, NCC
Ross has provided counseling services to college students in university counseling centers for over 37 years. From 2000 - 2017 he served as director of the CMU Counseling Center. He is working half-time in the Counseling Center during the 2017-2018 academic year. In his counseling Ross incorporates holistic, cognitive behavioral, strength based, and solution focused perspectives.  The counseling issues he works with include:  adjustment, stress management, anxiety, depression, grief and loss, substance abuse, procrastination, performance/test anxiety, LGBTQ concerns, and relationship problems.  Ross believes the counselor’s role is to help individuals identify their own goals, build on their strengths, learn from their experiences, and strengthen coping and problem solving skills.  Prior to coming to CMU in 1983 he completed an American Psychological Association approved pre-doctoral counseling internship at The Ohio State University’s Counseling and Consultation Services and worked for three years as a Senior Staff Psychologist at the University of Iowa’s Counseling Services. Education: B.A. Social Sciences, Michigan State University; M.A., Ph.D. Psychology (Industrial/Organizational with a minor in Counseling Psychology) from The Ohio State University. 


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Lisa Sheffert, MA, Ed.S., LPC
I worked in community mental health and private practice in the Mid-Michigan area for 10 years before beginning work at CMU in 2005. I have experience addressing concerns specific to a college environment including stress management, adjustment to college, and career indecision. I also have experience treating various personal concerns, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, domestic violence, emotional, sexual and physical abuse, grief and loss concerns, LGBTQ concerns, and other developmental issues. I will work to create a trusting environment in which you’ll feel safe and respected sharing your thoughts, ideas, and feelings. I welcome the opportunity to work together with you to identify concrete goals and solutions, and to strengthen your problem-solving and coping skills.

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Megan Varner MA, LLPC
Associate Director Sexual Aggression Services
Sexual Aggression Dedicated Counselor
It is my belief that providing an environment of trust and a sense of safety are of vital importance to a developing a successful counselor- client relationship.  No two people share the exact same experiences, and I welcome the opportunity to work with each individual as they work along their own chosen path.  My experience with sexual aggression began and expanded during my eight years working with Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates (SAPA).   Throughout my time in the field of sexual aggression, I worked to improve the advocacy services provided and worked within the campus community to build better connections and unified survivor-centered approaches. I earned both my Bachelor of Science in Family Studies and Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Central Michigan University.

Clinical Pyschology Advanced Practicum


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Casey Roca, BS

My approach to practice incorporates aspects of a cognitive-behavioral perspective, as well as mindfulness and acceptance-based therapies. I strongly encourage collaboration throughout the entire process of treatment, so I will work with you to develop and master skills that you can use outside of sessions. I also attempt to create a supportive and non-judgmental environment where clients can safely express their thoughts and feelings.  

I received my Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychological Science and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Criminology from the University of Florida in 2014. I am currently in my third year at the Clinical Psychology doctoral program here at CMU. I'm currently working as a clinician-in-training under the advisement of Dr. Frank Kuo, Ph.D., LLP, LPC. My previous experience includes working with depression, anxiety, and aggressive behaviors. 

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James Simms, BA

I approach therapy from a cognitive-behavioral perspective and utilize mindfulness and acceptance-based techniques to encourage clients to take an active role in therapy. I believe it is important to work together in choosing treatment goals, employing positive coping strategies, and evaluating the outcomes.

I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 2014 at the University of Louisville, and am currently going into my 3rd year of the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at CMU. At the CMU Counseling Center, I am a therapist-in-training under the supervision of Frank Kuo, Ph.D., LLP, LPC. Prior to graduate school I worked as caseworker resettling refugees from conflict zones around the world, a life skills trainer for people with traumatic brain injuries, and in a myriad of social justice/community conflict resolution initiatives.


Counselor Education Intern


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Alison Galbraith, BA

The counseling process takes courage and is unique to the individual. I believe it is important for both the client and the counselor to be an active participant; I will work alongside you to offer support and challenge you while you are seeking the changes you wish to see. I encourage you to explore and share feelings during this time. It is my hope to create a safe, trusting, and thoughtful space for you to pursue your goals. I tend to use an integrated approach to counseling, using a blend of person-centered and cognitive behavioral techniques.

I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 2013. I am currently completing my final year of graduate school at CMU and will soon obtain my Master of Arts in Professional Counseling. While working as a Counseling-in-Training at the CMU Counseling Center, I will be supervised by Cory Cole, MSW, LMSW.​

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Tangela Smith, BA
The counseling process is interactive between client and counselor. It involves sharing personal information and feelings, examining the circumstances and choices that have brought you to this point in your life, as well as considering new or alternative ways of approaching life. I will strive to provide a warm and comfortable environment for you to discuss challenges and concerns. I will work collaboratively with you to help you decide the best course of action for you to take regarding your goals. I tend to use an integrated approach to counseling using a blend of cognitive behavioral and person-centered techniques.

I have worked in the field of sexual aggression since I was an undergraduate student, volunteering with SAPA (Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates) at Central Michigan University for four years and serving as Graduate Assistant to Sexual Aggression Services and SAPA for two years. I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 2013. I am currently completing my final year of graduate school at CMU and will soon obtain my Master of Arts in Professional Counseling. While working as a Counseling-in-Training at the CMU Counseling Center, I will be supervised by Atefeh E. Jenrow, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC and Melissa M. Hutchison, MA, LPC, NCC, Interim Director of Counseling Services. 

Support Staff
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​Peggy Clerc, Executive Secretary
​I began my career with Central Michigan University in 2007 as an Office Professional in the Physician Assistant Program.  I then joined the Counseling Center in 2010 as the Administrative Secretary.   I provide assistance and direction to the Counseling Center faculty and staff in the day-to-day operations.  I also bring over fifteen years of professional experience in the management of educational and medical office settings.
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Jordan Rios, Student Office Assistant
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