Saint of Santa Fe | Steve Vutsinas

Saint of Santa Fe | Steve Vutsinas

Santa Fe College’s Steve Vutsinas, Coordinator of the SF Counseling Center.

February 2, 2021 – “ I started as an intern with the Santa Fe Counseling Center when I was a student in the University of Florida’s Counselor Education program. I really like counseling and I really like working with college students. This is the best job opportunity that I could ever hope for.  

The students at Santa Fe are different. They often come from incredibly diverse backgrounds. They represent a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, ages.  

I get to work with students of all types and that’s one of the really cool things about working here. I get to meet a lot of different people and I get to see in a very unique way – not just what their challenges are, but what makes them special and unique.    

The fact that we don’t operate in silos here is one of Santa Fe’s greatest attributes because I can walk around this campus with my mask on and I’m going to see people with their masks on, and we’re still going to recognize each other, we’re still going to be able to talk to each other safely and it’s still that collegial Santa Fe environment. There might be a few less people walk around campus right now, but it’s still Santa Fe.  

 I’ve worked at Santa Fe College for almost 11 years and I would say the students haven’t changed, and largely the issues have not changed. The landscape has changed. Santa Fe has changed a little bit. It looks a little different, new buildings here and there.  But the students, not so much.  

There are things that have continued during the pandemic that remind me these are the essential mental health concerns that are always going to be present and will always need support from the college: depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and social isolation.  I don’t just mean loneliness; I mean social isolation. 

I want students to know that working with issues of depression and anxiety are things that I and the rest of the Counseling Center staff are tremendously comfortable with.  

I cannot tell you how many students I have spoken to that have shared the same painful stories about basically living in their apartments by themselves and, you know, maybe they don’t want to go back home because they have family that they don’t want to expose and put at risk. Or maybe they have a job here, and that’s how they’re supporting themselves. But in general, a lot of the students that I’ve been talking to are struggling with feeling very, very alone.  

For a lot of our students, it doesn’t feel safe to go out and hang out with friends. It doesn’t feel safe to go out to the clubs. It doesn’t feel safe to go, you know, join, you know a student organization. And it is incredibly isolating and incredibly lonely, and you do this for months on end, it will take a toll.  

So much of what counseling is, is finding ways to adapt and cope and thrive despite the circumstances that we find ourselves in. Getting the chance to dialogue with a student who’s having these struggles in and of itself is a way to help combat that loneliness. If I am the one connection that somebody gets to have in that week besides logging into their online class, great!”  

–       Steve Vutsinas, Counseling Center Coordinator