Professional Counseling Staff 


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Ross J. Rapaport, Ph.D., LPC, NCC


 Ross has provided counseling services to college students in university counseling centers for 34 years. Since 2000 he has been director of the Central Michigan University Counseling Center. In his counseling work with college students Ross uses a holistic, cognitive behavioral, strength based and solution focused approach.  The counseling issues he works with include, though are not limited to: adjustment, stress, anxiety, depression, mental health, grief and loss, substance abuse, procrastination, academic difficulties, career indecision and planning, 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 

Michelle Bigard, MSW, LMSW
Associate Director

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.

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.




Melissa M. Hutchinson, MA, LPC, NCC
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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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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Chun-Fang Frank Kuo, Ph.D., LLP
 Assistant 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.

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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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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, GLBTQ 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.


Julie Wellman, MA, LLPC
Julie utilizes a strength-based approach in helping students discover what is and is not working in their life. Using a blend of interpersonal, cognitive-behavioral and family systems theories, Julie will work with a student to develop goals, discover new ideas and encourage change. Julie provides general counseling to students with a variety of concerns, but has a special interest in treating adjustment, anxiety, depression, trauma and grief/loss. She also enjoys working with non-traditional students and Veterans making the transition from active-duty to student. Julie earned a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Central Michigan University in 2013 and a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University in Family and Community Services. Prior to graduate school, Julie worked for 14 years in a variety of community agencies serving individuals, families and college students. Julie is originally from this area and enjoys the outdoor activities and recreation Mt. Pleasant offers. 

Clinical Psychology Advanced Practicum Students

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Ryan Egan, MA

Ryan is a doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at Central Michigan University.  He has worked in the field of psychology for about 7 years doing both treatment and research in various capacities.  He uses a primarily cognitive-behavioral approach, but has experience with many other kinds of therapy, including acceptance and commitment therapy, solution-focused therapy, and client-centered therapy.  Ryan flexibly applies different techniques from these different therapies to help clients achieve their goals.  Education: Ryan holds a Bachelor's Degree in psychology from Duke University and a Master's Degree in Psychology from Central Michigan University.

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Suchita Saxena, MA

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Louisiana State University in 2012 and my Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology at CMU in May 2016. I am currently enrolled as a student in CMU's Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. In counseling, my focus is to support clients through their individual processes of growth and positive life change. I tend to be goal-oriented, meaning that I help clients learn how to set and meet goals that are meaningful to them and that help bring about wellness and good overall health. I primarily work from a cognitive-behavioral perspective with a focus on acceptance-based theories, but I use many other evidence-based techniques as applied to each individual client and their unique needs. I am a strong advocate for the equality of all people, and I strive to maintain the safe space that each and every client deserves.

Counselor Education Interns

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Shelby Herb, BSW

I strive to provide a safe and comfortable environment for all individuals who seek counseling. My approach consists of relationship building, problem solving techniques, an overview of past experiences, an exploration of feelings, goal setting, and an examination of irrational thoughts or beliefs. It is my hope that clients will be able to surpass life's obstacles on their own after receiving counseling services. I received a Bachelor in Social Work degree from Central Michigan University in 2014, and I'm currently working towards getting my Master of Arts in Counseling degree within the CMU Professional Counseling program. For the past couple years, I have had internships as a social work/counselor trainee at Hemlock Public Schools, Clare Public Schools and also had the opportunity to work directly with CMU students during my Practicum experience in the Professional Counseling Program. During my time as a Trainee at the Counseling Center, I will be supervised by Brooke Oliver-Hempenstall, MA, LPC. 


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Andrew Keeley, BS

There must be a strong relationship between the counselor and the client in order for the process to be effective. Therefore, it is essential to build rapport and gain the trust of the client before anything else. Each counselor-client relationship is different in that each client comes through the door with their own needs and goals specific to their situation. My approach to counseling tends to be positive-oriented and solution-focused. More specifically, if something is not working, then we will work on changing it to get it to work for you. I like to work with clients to set up both short-term and long-term goals for them to focus on throughout as well as after the counseling process. Most importantly, my number one priority is the well-being of each of my clients. I look to support and help them with whatever they are happen to be struggling with, no matter how big or how small it may be.

I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in 2013 at CMU and majored in both psychology and philosophy. I am currently finishing up my Master of Arts degree in both school and professional counseling, also at CMU, and plan to graduate in August 2016.

Support Staff

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.


Erin Clark                              Student Office Assistant
Anne Miller, B.A.A.              Temporary Office Professional