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Meet the Counseling Center Staff

Learn more about the Counseling Center team, including their experiences in and approach to counseling.


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

College is a time of considerable growth for students. It can be both fulfilling and challenging. Counseling can be an opportunity for students to engage in self-exploration and problem-solving, especially when things feel difficult and overwhelming. Each student is unique, arriving at CMU with their own life experiences. I will honor your individuality throughout the counseling experience and tailor my interventions to meet your needs. Openness and trust are the heart of the counseling relationship and I will work hard to build that trust with each student. I have been in practice since 1997 and working as a CMU counselor since 2004. I have experience with a variety of concerns experienced by students and provide both individual and group counseling. I completed my Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Michigan State University and my Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Central Michigan University. In 2017 I transitioned into the role of Counseling Center director. It is my honor to oversee the center and the support provided to CMU students in order to promote their emotional well-being and academic success.

Kristie Miner
Kristie Miner, MA, LPC
Associate Director

I believe that 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, while making sure that each session addresses the needs of the client.     It's important that sessions are collaborative as well as interactive so that clients can focus on identifying and making progress toward their goals.  During our sessions, you will find that identifying best coping strategies, strengthening problem-solving skills, and exploring different perspectives are common themes.  In addition to my role at the CMU Counseling Center, I am a child sexual abuse treatment therapist at Listening Ear Crisis Center in Mt. Pleasant.  This work has allowed me to gain a strong understanding about trauma as well as best practices for treatment. I earned both my Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Central Michigan University.  

Brooke Bechtel
Brooke E. Bechtel, MA, LPC, NCC
Student Athlete Dedicated Counselor

As the student-athlete dedicated counselor, my role is to support your mental wellness not only within your sport, but within your life. I will work to create a comfortable and trusting environment where you will feel safe to share your experiences and thoughts with me. I will work to understand your current life position and implement approaches that are meaningful to you. I believe everyone has the power within themselves to make positive changes in their life; my role is to help you draw on your strengths, support your healing and development, and give you tools to handle life's stressors along the way.

I have experience working with: anxiety, trauma, depression, identity concerns, relationships, substance use, and self-harm. I earned my Bachelor of Science Degree and Master of Arts in Professional Counseling Degree from Central Michigan University. 

Michelle Bigard 
Michelle Bigard, MSW, LMSW

I am honored to meet with you to help you succeed at CMU. I will strive to create an atmosphere where you feel comfortable sharing what is important to you. In the spirit of trust, respect and accountability, we will work together to understand your concerns, foster your well-being, and meet your goals. I believe in your capacity for growth and will draw upon your strengths, values and beliefs to identify helpful strategies to face your challenges. 

I have a Master of Social Work degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo Ontario, Canada. I specialized in working with trauma issues within the Canadian mental health field prior to coming to the CMU Counseling Center in 2001.

Cheryl Danner, Counselor, professional headshot picture,  wearing a light blue shirt, silver necklace with a grey background
Cheryl Danner, MA, LLP

As a counselor at CMU, it is my goal to help you navigate the challenges you encounter during this exciting, and often stressful time in your life. Your mental health is an important component of your college success. I hope to provide support and guidance needed when life gets overwhelming. Within a safe, relaxed and inclusive environment, I strive to build a trusting therapeutic relationship. Utilizing a client-centered/cognitive-behavior approach, we will explore concerns, build on strengths, and develop effective coping skills to tackle life's challenges. 

I have had the privilege of working with all age groups in a variety of mental health settings as a Master's Level Psychologist and School Psychologist for the past 30 years. I have experience working with anxiety, depression, trauma, self-harm, substance abuse, and identity concerns, with special interest and training in Autism and Personality Disorders. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University and my Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from St. Mary's University. 

Nathan Dean, Counselor, professional headshot picture, wearing a checkered button down shirt, and glasses with a grey background
Nathan Dean, MA, LLC, NCC

Counseling is an opportunity to explore the beautiful, but often messy experience of being human. Suffering is an unavoidable part of life, made much harder by the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. We are bombarded on all sides with messages that we are somehow less than. It is my sincere desire to create a safe space where you are genuinely accepted. A space where you can explore what you would like to change and discover new possibilities. While I draw from many psychological theories, I primarily take a humanistic approach to counseling which respects that you are your own expert. For 20+ years I have trained and practiced mindfulness and other meditative/insight techniques which I find to be simple and effective tools for building resiliency and compassion. 

I attained a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Central Michigan University and am a National Certified Counselor. I will use my knowledge and experience to help you select the tools and techniques that will foster the change you are seeking. 

Julie Fortino Shurtliff
Julie Fortino Shurtliff, MA, LPC

As a counselor, I believe that change happens when people are given the support they need to draw on their own strengths and realize their potential to live fulfilling, happy lives. I understand that our past has influenced our present but it need not dictate our future. Our life experiences, positive or negative, are building blocks for who we are today and can be effective tools in creating who we aspire to be tomorrow. My main focus as a counselor is to create a safe space for you to explore your feelings and create coping skills to face life's challenges. I earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Evergreen State College with a major in Latin American History and Spanish Language. I earned a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Central Michigan University.

Anna Grajek
Anna Grajek, MA, LPC

Choosing to pursue counseling can be a big decision. I believe engaging in the counseling process is brave and an opportunity to pursue growth and change. As a counselor, I aim to create a comfortable environment to partner with students in building a therapeutic relationship, trust and engaging in the collaborative counseling process. In sessions you can expect to utilize different approaches to address an individual’s concerns, building on their strengths to promote growth and healing. I hope students will gain a better understanding of themselves, their strengths and values as well as resources, strategies and tools that are helpful moving forward. I have had the privilege of working with students in a variety of roles and am passionate about meeting students where they are and approaching the counseling process from a holistic perspective. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Michigan. I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services (Psychology, Social Work, & Substance Abuse Counseling) from Lake Superior State University, Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Central Michigan University, and a Post-Master’s certificate in Sports Counseling from California University of Pennsylvania.

Aileen Guerra-Morales, Assistant Director for Sexual Aggression Services, Sexual Aggression Dedicated Counselor profile picture. They are wearing a red blouse with a grey background.
Aileen Guerra-Morales, MA, LPC

Assistant Director for Sexual Aggression Services
Sexual Aggression Dedicated Counselor

As the Sexual Aggression Dedicated Counselor, it is my goal to create a safe and welcoming environment for students to feel comfortable working through healing from trauma. In my years of experience, I have witnessed how trauma can significantly impact an individual's life. Therefore, as a counselor my objective is to help students heal from trauma and guide them to be empowered in their own lives. Additionally, I work on educating students about how trauma affects their mind and body. Together we work on coping strategies to manage/decrease trauma reaction symptoms. 

In treatment, I utilize a strengths-based approach, and I also include cognitive behavioral modalities as well as mindfulness-based strategies. I provide individual and group counseling for students impacted by sexual assault, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, and/or harassment. 

I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and a National Board Certified Counselor. I obtained my Master of Arts in Counseling at Central Michigan University and my Bachelor of Science with a major in Psychology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico.

Professional photo of Elizabeth Husbands, Center for Student Inclusion and Diversity-Dedicated Counselor, wearing glasses and a multi-colored blouse against a grey background.
Elizabeth Husbands, MA, LLP, CCTP

Center for Student Inclusion and Diversity Dedicated Counselor

As the dedicated counselor at the Center for Student Inclusion and Diversity, my primary role is to provide direct mental health counseling to students who have been marginalized and are traditionally underserved or underrepresented. I can also provide consultation to the Center for Inclusion and Diversity personnel and create educational programming. For me, working to support and empower students' mental health and wellness within all aspects of their lives is a major goal. I dedicated my professional career to working with underserved, marginalized, and underrepresented populations by developing the tools and skills to provide the best service I possibly can. 

I believe counseling is a collaborative process that involves us both. I value the therapeutic relationship and make every effort to understand who you are as an individual and learn about your life experiences. I strive to create a caring, comfortable, and trusting environment where you feel safe to share your story with me. Honest communication is an important part of the counseling process. Together we determine appropriate interventions to aid you in meeting your goals for making therapy a powerful life-changing experience. I look forward to helping you on your journey to wholeness. 

I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Education, with minors in Psychology, Behavioral Sciences and Reading, from Andrew's University. My Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, specializing in trauma and childhood disorders was earned at Western Michigan University. Most recently, before joining the counseling staff at CMU, I served families impacted by domestic violence and sexual assault as the Program Manager at RISE Advocacy Inc. I also serve community members who have experienced trauma as a private practice clinician. Serving my community is a strongly held value. I have lived this out in every community in which I have resided by doing things like volunteering and participating in community organizations such as the Mt. Pleasant Human Rights Committee. 

Atefeh Jenrow
Atefeh E. Jenrow, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC

In the course of my career, I have worked with people including children, adults, and families facing various acute, emerging and/or ongoing mental health challenges. I particularly enjoy working with college students both as newly independent adults and members of the university family facing their own unique trials. I believe in creating a safe and collaborative environment with students on the changes they feel ready to make, focusing on their goals. I have a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Wayne State University and a Master of Arts in Counseling, specializing in Mental Health Counseling from Oakland University. I have worked with a variety of mental health concerns and have a particular interest in anxiety disorders and trauma. I have also worked as a member of a clinical research team studying schizophrenia. 

I help students using a holistic approach considering physical, psychological, and emotional approaches, while working to create a non-judgmental environment. Students can explore their emotional needs by focusing on wellness and strengths, while identifying ongoing challenges that they can continue to address. I feel privileged to be a member of the student's support team by being allowed to assist as they navigate potential career options, mental health concerns and life stages. 

Kate Caszatt, Counseling Center Counselor - wearing pink and black floral shirt for profile image
Kate Ridenour, MA, LLC

I have worked several years in higher education in various roles, and have always appreciated and enjoyed working with students during this unique time in their lives. I believe my role as a counselor is to facilitate a safe, empathetic, and welcoming environment for students to explore their emotions and goals. I view counseling as a collaborative process in which the client is empowered to grow and increase their overall wellness. When working with a client, I work to take a holistic approach to facilitate and guide the process. I view my work with students as a privilege and strive to do my best to support them for success as one member of a student's support team. I have my limited license in counseling, working to earn full licensure within the next few years. I have earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with an Interpersonal Communication concentration and American Sign Language Minor and a Master of Arts in Counseling - Clinical Mental Health from Central Michigan University. In my free time, I enjoy reading, travel, and spending time with my family and friends. 

Counseling interns

Kyleigh Ayala, Counseling Center Intern Headshot, wearing a black shirt, black blazer and a grey background
Kyleigh Ayala, BA
Counseling Intern

My goal as a counselor is to create a safe and comfortable environment for all students, where they can be their authentic selves. I believe in a holistic approach to counseling with consideration to mental, emotional, and physical well-being. As a counselor in training, I aim to help students hold space for their feelings, their past, and their present. I believe that our environments and learned observations (past and current) can both negatively and positively impact us and counseling can be a tool to process how that effects your world. I earned my Bachelor of Applied Arts in Psychology from Saginaw Valley State University. I am currently pursuing my Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

Wenda Dexter, Counseling Center Intern profile picture. Wearing glasses, a maroon shirt and white headband with a dark grey background.
Wenda Dexter, BS
Counseling Intern

There are many shifts and transitions throughout life that students need support working through, especially during college. I hope to serve the CMU student population by offering a safe space where students can speak about their struggles, feel heard, become connected to the various resources that the campus has to offer, as well as learn and identify coping strategies that can help them throughout their time at CMU.

I have been passionate about helping the college student population since I began working with first and second-year students in my undergraduate program as a peer mentor with the Public Service Residential College. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a concentration in mental health, and a double minor in Family Studies and Youth Studies from CMU. I am currently pursuing my Master of Arts degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. 

Office professionals

Melissa Schalk
Melissa Schalk, BS
Executive Secretary

I graduated in 2003 from CMU with a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in social work. That same year I started working for Listening Ear. For 16 years I provided care for developmentally disabled individuals while also managing a residential program. I strived in maintaining a safe and loving environment for the individuals that were in our care. In 2019 I started a new career path and joined the Counseling Center as an office professional. In this role I hope to provide a welcoming atmosphere for everyone that enters the center.