Brandeis increased diversity and expanded its outreach with several new hires at offices designed to support students, the Hiatt Career Center and the Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC).
The Hiatt Career Center had two open positions this year and hired Sonia Liang to serve as a career counselor focused on supporting international students. There are three main parts to Liang’s work in her new position, all centered around supporting international students—who constitute 20 percent of the undergraduate study body.
Most importantly, Liang said, is the direct career counseling where she meets with students to help them create resumes and find jobs or internships, for example. Other Hiatt counselors have specialities, such as law school or liberal arts. “My speciality would be bringing in my intercultural training and also my experience working with international populations,” said Liang.
“We need someone in this position to do more intentional work,” she said regarding the specificity of her focus.
Liang also works on Hiatt’s Employer Relations team to create resources for international students on the other side of the equation, helping specific companies better support them. This could include providing written information for employers on the process of hiring international students which requires certain forms and authorizations. According to Liang, however, there is actually far less paperwork required than some employers expect.
Sometimes students feel like they are being pushed into the world of work and told to adapt to American culture, according to Liang, but she wants to be sure the students feel appreciated and welcomed. Having moved here from China two years ago, she is aware of potential challenges.
The final piece of her job involves serving as one of many “campus partners” for the group InStep (International Student Experience Project). The more than 10 partners include employees in the International Students & Scholars Office, the Brandeis Counseling Center, the Intercultural Center, Academic Services and the Department of Community Living, according to the InStep website.
InStep pools resources such as job or volunteer opportunities, academic and counseling services to make sure international students are aware of them. They host events such as their Launch Party last month where students could speak with partners, learn about services, get career tips and win prizes.
Liang had been interested in working with international students, but while pursuing her Master’s degree in Education at Kent State University, she explored career counseling theory. She said she would be excited to “infuse” both interests, but that it was “really rare to find a career counseling position … also focusing on international students, which made the posting from Brandeis a perfect fit.”
At Kent State, she helped develop and teach a class on career counseling while pursuing her masters. She also translated the “course manual” into Chinese and adapted the examples to be more relatable for Chinese-speakers in America in the hopes of recruiting students in a future course.
The Brandeis Counseling Center (BCC) hired five new counselors this year, including several of color. Three new clinicians, Dr. Jessica Yanick Pierre, Dr. Martin Pierre and Dr. Dennis Tyrell are “experts in multicultural mental health,” according to a campus-wide email informing students of BCC services last month.
Tyrell’s specialities include “migration and cultural adjustments,” and Yanick Pierre’s include “multiculturalism [and] racial identity development.”
A demand of Ford Hall 2015 was to “employ additional clinical staff of color within the Psychological Counseling Center in order to provide culturally relevant support to students of all backgrounds.”
Joy von Steiger, clinical director of the BCC, said new hires seek to reflect the “diversity in the larger community,” in an email to The Brandeis Hoot.
Clinicians are “invested in the work we are doing to address race, power and privilege as it is reflected in the clinical work we do,” she added. “Our new clinicians bring with them a diversity of identities, experience and specialties that enrich our staff and expand our clinical offerings.”
Abigail Gardener contributed to this report.