After 31 years of teaching, Enns is back in a new role

It has only been a few years since Professor of Psychology Emerita Carol Zerbe Enns retired, but nothing could keep her away for long.

The once-familiar face in the classroom can now be found spending two days a week volunteering in the Counseling Center on campus. 

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Carol Enns teaching, 2008

“I wanted to be involved in a meaningful way back at the college,” Enns said. 

Enns taught at Cornell for 31 years before she retired. Over the years she was recognized by her colleagues as a student-favorite and recognized internationally in her field. She came back to teach a couple of classes after retiring and then shipped out in 2019 to teach for Semester at Sea, which she says was “quite marvelous.” She, however, decided to hang up her life vest when the pandemic hit. 

Now she’s spending her time visiting her grandchildren and working with the students of Cornell. 

“I have felt as though I’ve been able to work effectively with a number of students and it’s rewarding,” Enns said. “It’s good to give back in some way.” 

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Director of Counseling Brenda Lovstuen

For Director of Counseling Brenda Lovstuen, it’s a surreal experience because Lovstuen had Enns as a professor. Enns also supervised Lovstuen as she worked toward her licensure as a psychologist. 

“When she reached out this fall about volunteering in the Counseling Center, I jumped at the chance to have her as a colleague again and appreciate the breadth and depth of experience she brings, her compassion and care for the Cornell community, and the opportunity to work with her in yet another capacity,” Lovstuen said. “I am grateful for her generosity and know students are as well.”

Enns works with around eight to ten students a week and says this work is much different than her teaching days.

“Compared to teaching, this is an opportunity for me to be on the listening side, much of the time, and learn about students’ perspectives on their own lives and then to help ask questions and offer guidance that is helpful in the choices that they make,” Enns said. “I think my interactions with students have always been positive, but this one-on-one experience allows for more depth of interaction. It allows me to understand more fully the challenges that students experience, and I value that a great deal.”

While Enns spends most of her time listening, she does have some general advice for students as they continue to tackle the feelings and emotions that come along with this pandemic.

  1. Interact and connect with others on a daily basis, even if they are brief or involve online formats.
  2. Do everything you can to avoid getting “stuck.” Find ways to vary what you do every day, even if it’s challenging due to COVID-19 limitations. And have fun!
  3. Stay informed on what’s going on in the news, but limit your exposure to the constant barrage of information, so it doesn’t impact your ability to maintain perspective.

“It seems very clear that the pandemic has had a substantial impact on the lives of the students,” Enns said. “I’m also impressed by how well students cope in spite of all of these challenges around us. I see a lot of resilience and ability to cope in spite of these pretty big challenges.”

Students at Cornell can call to schedule one-on-one counseling. Counselors at the Counseling Center will work with students via short-term counseling or if more is needed, they can refer students to a long-term practice off campus.

“We also offer three-session mental health wellness workshops that are intended to teach several skills in a short amount of time–skills for managing things like stress, anxiety, or depression; using mindfulness; and having healthy relationships,” Lovstuen said. “We have a short-term telepsychiatry ‘bridge’ service for students who are seeking ongoing psychiatric care off campus, as it can sometimes take months to get an appointment off campus.”

The Counseling Center also consults with students, faculty, and staff who want to know more about services or are concerned about a student. The webpage also offers extensive mental health information and links to resources.

Ebersole Center
Ebersole Center

Enns says there are no issues too big or too small.

“I would encourage students who are struggling to make the contact, whether it ends up being one or two sessions or longer. It’s a way to have another place to sort through things that are really important for the whole person and the ecology in which a person lives,” Enns said.

The Counseling Center is located in Ebersole Center and can be reached at 319.895.4292 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

As for Enns, she plans to keep volunteering next year and possibly beyond.