For the fall semester, Anna Maria College will be launching the AMCAT Support Network, a new program designed for peer-to-peer support. Edith Sherburne, a graduate student from Saugerties, NY pursuing her master’s degree in Social Work, spoke with us about this important service offered to Anna Maria students.
Edith Sherburne, MSW ’22
Anna Maria College, Graduate Residence Hall Director
What is the AMCAT Support Network?
The AMCAT Support Network is an eight-week training program for students enrolled at Anna Maria College that will prepare them to identify, reach out, and help other students in need. Participants will learn crisis-response, active listening skills, and understand how to be helpful in a variety of situations.
What inspired you to bring this program to campus?
Some studies show that when students are in crisis, they are more likely to confide in a peer than they are to utilize campus resources. That just means we need to adapt our approach and find new ways to meet the needs of our students. My hope is that bringing the program to campus will help our students provide support to their peers in a way that is effective and community oriented.
Who can participate and what sort of work is involved?
Students must apply and be accepted to the program. Accepted students will then go through the program in small cohorts. Each session is structured the same but has its own focus. Students will learn background information and a brief history about a weekly topic, and will engage in facilitated discussions about what that issue might look like on our campus. From there, they will participate in a role-play activity and be asked about possible solutions and ways of helping in the given scenario. Students can expect to be given tips and tools on appropriate ways of responding and about when and how to ask for additional help. This program thrives on student participation and utilizes role-playing to put to practice the skills they are learning.
Is this for credit? Can it be used on a resume?
Currently the program is not for credit, but it absolutely can be used on a resume. The interpersonal skills gained through this program translate well to both personal and professional settings.
How big of a concern on campus is Mental Health?
Mental Health concerns among college students are on the rise. Here at Anna Maria, we have a number of resources on campus to support students around mental health and wellness. The AMCAT Support Network will provide a new opportunity to students to be better equipped to support their peers. Our hope is that this new program helps to normalize conversations around mental health on campus.
How will the AMCAT Support Network work with other support services available to students?
Throughout the creation of the AMCAT Support Network, I’ve worked closely with staff from the Office of Student Affairs, specifically those working in Residence Life and Counseling. Our offices will continue to work together to make sure we are collaborating and following best practices to provide new and exciting programming and support services for our student population.
What brought you to Anna Maria College?
Before coming to Anna Maria, I was working full-time and trying to figure out how I was going to be able to go back to school for my master’s degree. A close friend of mine mentioned that there was an open Graduate Assistantship at Anna Maria, so I started looking at the available programs offered and discovered that the Social Work program had recently become accredited. I emailed the program director inquiring about the MSW program and what life as a student at Anna Maria looked like. Three weeks later found myself moving to campus, enrolled as a full-time student, and working for the Office of Residence Life and Student Conduct. Anna Maria made it easy and affordable for me to start my journey to become a social worker. It is my hope that after graduation in 2022 I will continue to work with college students as a future social worker in a college counseling center.