Have a little Faith

Counselor aims to make a mark

Jordan Neel, [email protected]

Los Medanos College counselors want nothing less than the best for LMC students – counselor Faith Watkins is no different. A counselor for the LMC Umoja scholars program for three years and formerly a social worker for 10, Watkins loves her job at LMC and being able to use her expertise in social work to support her students.

“I enjoy helping students to see the best in themselves,” said Watkins, “I encourage them to always present their best self even when they’re having a hard time.”

If there is a goal that Watkins wants her students to achieve, it is for them to thrive in academics, regardless of their outside circumstances.

“What people don’t see is behind the scenes where students need support in other things to attain success in academics,” said Watkins. “A student could face potential homelessness, or abusive relationships or living in a house with no running water. My social worker skills have helped me to have a nonjudgmental approach when a student has a problem.”

Watkins always knew she wanted to help people, but even after she finished college at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana she didn’t know how to make it a career.

“I really had to think about what I wanted to get my master’s degree in,” said Watkins.

“After finishing Southern University I took two years off, then went to Holy Names University where I got my degree in counseling. My first year at grad school I felt a purpose there. I also worked at a continuation school in West Oakland. I blended the two together and loved it,” she said.

“It wasn’t always easy since two students I knew were unfortunately murdered, but that actually bonded [the rest of the class] closer. It was a job I knew I wanted to help students.”

The best part of her job, Watkins said, is working with students and encountering something new everyday.

“In a day I meet with 11-13 students. Everyone has a different major and goal so my day is never the same,” she said. “I’m an emotional wreck as I cry seeing students that started here graduate. They’re not tears of sadness, they’re tears of joy.”

“There was a moment where a student was talking to me about their mother being terminally ill. They were so happy that their mother was going to see them walk at graduation,” she continued, “and if it weren’t for my guidance they wouldn’t have been encouraged to finish school. Seeing a student go from self doubt to grow to love themselves makes me happy.”

Watkins’ specific assignment is through the Umoja scholars program, which is another thing she is passionate about at LMC.

“I really love Umoja,” said Watkins, adding that it is a “great support system.”

Students have the opportunity to complete their English and Math sequences together so they can bond and help each other succeed.

“What students look forward to,” she said, are “the college tours and to their graduation from the program. Watching them learn and grow is amazing. Those who don’t get support from their own family, we become a family.”

Watkins personal goal is to be a role model for students by growing as a counselor.

“If I don’t grow, the students won’t,” said Watkins adding that her development inspires theirs.

“I want to serve students in the best way possible.  I don’t want to stay stagnant. I want to make sure I grow so that students can grow academically and to make it my business to make a positive difference in a student’s life.”