Kayla Berkey

Kayla Berkey 2012

Social work

CPST Manager (Community Psychiatric Support Treatment), Firelands Counseling & Recovery Services of Ottawa County

What is your favorite Bluffton memory?
Bluffton allowed for me to have so many incredible experiences, it's hard to say. One that always stands out is a time that I went to NYC with a group of students, along with Rudi Kauffman for an MCC conference at the United Nations. We were driving home, it was late October and an unexpected snow had fallen. This made what should have been an 8-hour drive become something more like a 12-hour drive. Dr. Kauffman had us all bearing our souls with one another-things like fears, dreams and values. I had some of the most meaningful conversations with that group of people, most of which I had hardly known just a few days before. Most of my Bluffton memories are bound up in this sort of sweet relationship building.
What do you love about your job?
I love the direct interaction I have with my clients. It's sometimes hard to carry 60 people's stories, needs and goals in your head at a time. When one of them succeeds or improves, it feels like I'm a part of that, like I celebrate with them. Not so much because of something I've done, but more because they've let me in. Often when I meet with people, they are not in the brightest places, and often in the mental health field it's easy to go after symptoms and forget the person experiencing them. I'm grateful for the way my education and experience at Bluffton shaped me to always focus on the person in front of me, and to above all empower them.

What is your one piece of advice to an incoming Bluffton student?
I'm not great at advice, but I think I would encourage incoming students to embrace the Bluffton culture. I always took it for granted, but I would have friends visit from other schools and make comments about how nice everyone was. Everyone says hi, everyone holds the door, the dining hall is friendly. I recently had a close friend tell me she misses visiting me at Bluffton more than she misses her campus. I think that says a lot. Allow yourself to be charmed, and interact with your professors! They are most likely Bluffton's best asset.

What faculty or staff member(s) were particularly influential and how?
Oh, there are so many. I will focus on Jennifer Hughes and Rudi Kauffman. Jennifer is a teacher, mentor, supporter and friend. She brings her current in-field experience into the classroom, and keeps things lively with her great sense of humor. Most importantly she always encouraged me, she would tell me that I knew what I was doing, even when I wasn't sure.

Rudi is the perfect balance of supporter and pusher, always stretching students to think outside their typical perimeters. What I value most about Rudi was the way he encourages real, honest interaction with each other. I can't think of a single time-from classroom discussion, so office chats, to the dinners he invited students to spend with his family, at his home-that Rudi wasn't entirely present, ready to listen, ready to say something to comfort or to challenge.

June 2014