Meet a Deac – Denisha Champion

Denisha Champion of the University Counseling CenterToday is COLD. Like a high of 44 degrees cold. And it has been sprinkling on and off, which makes it feel even colder. I had a meeting in Reynolda and as I was headed there, I could see many students clutching their coats tighter around them. Many a Deac (myself included) underestimated how cold the day would be and did not dress accordingly. Since it was too cold to linger outside and people watch, I thought I would revisit an old favorite of the Daily Deac – the Meet a Deac post.

One of the great pleasures of the Wake Forest community is being surrounded by so many interesting, talented, and committed people.  Parents and family members cannot always see and meet the people who impact their students’ Wake Forest experience, so we created Meet a Deac to introduce you to some of our wonderful Wake Foresters.  Today we meet Denisha Champion of the University Counseling Center.

Denisha, you and I have worked together for a number of years so I know some of this already – but for the rest of the Daily Deacdom, let’s start at the beginning.  What is your official job title?
Assistant Director for Programming and Prevention, University Counseling Center (UCC).

How long have you worked at Wake Forest?
I have been here eight years now.

Tell me about your educational background.
I received a BA from Clemson University. I also have an MS in Counseling and a PhD in Counseling and Counselor Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

We have something in common there – my PhD committee chair is a former counseling professor at UNC-G who moved over to their higher ed department.

OK, back to the normal questions: in layperson’s terms, what do you do at the UCC?
As a counselor, I provide therapy for students on campus. In my assistant director role, I focus on helping provide students with skills and strategies for optimal emotional wellbeing. This includes knowing how, when, and why it’s important to focus on skills that can help prevent the disruptions that anxiety or depression can cause in a student’s life.

How would you characterize Wake Forest students?  What are some common attributes they have?
Wake Forest students are psychologically-minded individuals. Once they understand the patterns that are getting in their way, they are eager to work towards self improvement and emerging fully into the person they are going to be. They are the type of clients many therapists dream of!

What advice would you give to students?
Don’t put off caring for your whole self (especially your emotional self) until after you graduate. The “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality can set you up for undue stress and anxiety. Your academic growth and stretching is built in to your Wake Forest experience. Intentionally seeking out a therapeutic relationship with myself or any of my fabulous colleagues can help you stretch and grow personally to complement and bolster all the other experiences you’ll have at Wake.

What advice do you have for parents and families?
Come to the Just for Parents session at Orientation! Dr. Raper, the University Counseling Center Director and Dr. Clinch in Student Health give such great perspective and insight about the emotional process of moving from a director role in your student’s life to a consultant role [NOTE: you can see the slides here]. Remember, the UCC is here to help you with the transition of your student into college and we are your team members in their success.

What do you like best about working at Wake Forest?
My colleagues at the University Counseling Center are some of the warmest, brightest, and funniest individuals. It’s fun to get to work with them everyday.

Totally agree on how great the office is. You know I am a UCC groupie.

And now for my favorite part – the frivolous questions!

The How of Happiness bookBooks you’re reading now: The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky and Flourish by Martin Seligman

What music are you listening to these days: Anything I can crank up really loud that has a good melody and beat.

Favorite movie: Titanic, any really good horror movie, Bridesmaids

Website you frequent: YouTube, Netflix, Buzzfeed

Guilty pleasure: Pajama day! This is what I call a Saturday in which I remain in pajamas and practice ultimate relaxation.

Favorite place to be on campus: The spot outside my office on the Quad where the UCC staff goes to eat lunch under a shady tree. The sky is usually an amazingly bright blue.

Favorite place to eat on campus and what you order: Zick’s – The Thai-tanic flatbread. I love a good pun.

Tell me something most people don’t know about you:When I was a kid I really wanted to be an interior designer.

What question haven’t I asked that you are dying to answer? Why do I love being a therapist? Watching people grow and change and become the fullest and most efficacious version of themselves. Helping people discover, build, and leverage their strengths. I get to ask people “What is going right with you?” instead of what’s wrong? All the feels.


— by Betsy Chapman ’92, MA ’94

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