BVU Hires New Campus Counselor

Jordyn Daggs-Olson, Assistant News Editor

At the end of September, Nathan Otten began his role as Buena Vista University’s campus counselor. Otten took the position following Mike Walker, who assumed the role of director of student retention and student support and assistant dean of students at the beginning of this school year.  

Otten is originally from Wisconsin. He earned his undergraduate psychology degree from Dordt College. From there, he attended John Brown University in Silem Springs, Arkansas. In 2012, he graduated with a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, and community counseling. Before coming to BVU, Otten worked at different community mental health agencies, where he worked with kids ages 10 and older as well as adults and families.  

Mike Walker had much to say about Otten’s arrival at Buena Vista.  

“He is a fantastic fit for BVU. From day one Nate was our top choice among the applicant pool for a number of reasons. First of all, his expertise in the field itself is obviously essential. You want somebody who is good at what they do,” said Walker. “The other part, which I think is equally important on a college campus, is his demeanor and his student-centered focus. I think he’s somebody that the students will connect really well with, and I think he will do a really good job of communicating his care for students.  

Walker says that campus counseling services offer struggling students an opportunity to receive help and not feel like they are alone. In his opinion, being able to talk to someone is essential for such students to be able to succeed.   

Otten is looking forward to helping students while they are going through the numerous changes that go along with life in college, as well as helping them become the best person that they can be.  

“There’s just something about the atmosphere of a campus, campus life, and just the energy of it. And students who are really in that stage of finding their identity, and figuring out who they are, what they’re passionate about, and what they were created and called to do, is something that I’m passionate about-helping students find that,” explains Otten.  

He stresses the importance of mental health as college students are in the stage of finding their identity, the person they are going to be and what they are going to do for the rest of their lives.  

“All of those changes taking place, I think that’s one of the biggest mental health issues going on at colleges right now. And then you couple that with the rising demands of classes, and all the things that students need to do and get done, that adds up. That adds up to a point where students have a really tough time coping with it,” Otten said.  

In addition to a new campus counselor, BVU has created a new position in the office of campus counseling. Erin Fiala is a counseling intern who is available to meet with students on Monday. Fiala is currently finishing her graduate counseling program at BVU with the internship portion of the program. With the increasing need for campus counselors and resources for students regarding mental health nationwide, there are possibilities of the campus counseling services increasing their staff if needed.  

Campus counseling services will be hosting an event on campus focused on the topic of Suicide Prevention Training. Details for event have not been released yet, but the event will take place in November with sections for staff, faculty, and students to bring awareness to this topic.  

According to Walker, the goal of this program is to “reduce the stigma and allow people who are struggling to receive the help they need.”  

If you are struggling, or would like to talk to someone, there are multiple on-campus resources available to help. Campus counseling services are free for students and are currently located in Swope Hall. At the start of 2019, campus counseling services will move to their permanent office in the Forum.