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Black History Month: Leader at Susquehanna University in charge of school's mental health services

Newswatch 16 is continuing to celebrate Black History Month. This year's theme is Black Health & Wellness. We catch up with a woman whose career is focused on that.

SELINSGROVE, Pa. — It's been a busy month for Dr. Stacey Pearson-Wharton. the Dean of Health and Wellness at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove.

Dr. Stacey, as students call her, is a sought-after speaker during Black History Month, but here on campus, she works with students who are in distress.

"My role is to lead a team of people to really wrap ourselves around them, to help them to move beyond that and to support them and to move them towards success," said Dr. Stacey.

Dr. Stacey came to Susquehanna in 2015 as a consultant to help with the university's mental health services. Seven years later, she and her husband David are part of the Selinsgrove community.

"To have the kind of impact that I'm able to have here and to see it has been a unique part of my experience here, and I really enjoy being a known entity among our student body, and them feeling like I'm somebody that they have access to who can help them to reach their goals," she said.

In addition to her role as Dean of Health and Wellness, Dr. Stacey is also Susquehanna University's Director of Counseling and Psychological Services. 

"To help them to deal with whatever is happening around their mental health so they can go on and live healthy, successful, and productive lives," added Dr. Stacey.

As the person in charge of the university's mental health services, Dr. Stacey sees students who are exhausted and anxious. She says students of color are dealing with even more.

"And then you put on top of that race-based stress. Dealing with what people are calling the double pandemic, both COVID and the racial reconciliation that the country is going through."

Susquehanna University has therapists who specialize in working with students who are black, indigenous, and people of color. Dr. Stacey says these students are resilient, and she is blessed to be able to do the work she does. 

In her spare time, Dr. Stacey hosts a podcast called "Being the Dot." It's about black people thriving in predominantly white spaces.

"There's an opportunity to learn and understand in a way that you don't always have to go and ask questions, but you can go and understand through those voices."

Dr. Stacey tells Newswatch 16 she likes to focus on solutions not just for Black people but for people who consider themselves allies and want to help.

"I find it to be really encouraging to have these conversations with this generation. They're stressed and anxious, but they really want to make a difference. It makes me hopeful."

Click here to learn more about the "Being the Dot" podcast.

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