Empowering lives for 90 years!

"Friday Feels Podcast", a virtual space for compassion, respect, and understanding

Sarah Nickerson smiling at the cameraWhen you first hear Sarah Nickerson’s voice, you immediately feel like you are reconnecting with an old friend. There is a sense of calmness and reassurance in her voice as you begin to feel your stress and anxiety melt away. These are excellent traits to have as a Personal Counselor, Sarah’s role here at Berkeley College. These abilities are also what makes her weekly podcast, titled “Friday Feels,” an answer to the “pandemic fatigue” that so many are experiencing. During her weekly program she interviews students about the challenges we all are facing during COVID-19 and beyond. Her program began back in May 2020, when she saw a need to help students stay connected. It has continued throughout the pandemic, helping students create a sense of community and not feel so alone during our mandatory isolation times.

The Office of Counseling and Wellness at Berkeley College has seen an uptick in outreach for students wanting to meet with a Personal Counselor during the pandemic. According to the Centers for disease Control, U.S. adults reporting anxiety and depression rose to 42% in December 2020, compared to only 11% during pre-pandemic time.*

Berkeley College offers private, confidential counseling to all students. All sessions are confidential and free of charge. In some cases, students will be referred to outside professional help or another department that can assist with practical issues. 

Berkeley College Personal Counselors offer a professional, unbiased person to lean on for therapy; offering coping mechanisms, help with maintaining good study habits, and the tools to assist with managing school while juggling the normal pressures of work, family, and whatever life throws at you. Yet, no one predicted 2020 to be the year of remote learning, job insecurity, health safety uncertainty, and the variety of other issues brought on by COVID-19.

Diane K. Georges, LMHC, LPC, Director of Personal Counseling at Berkeley College says, “Like everyone, our office had to adjust quickly last March. We implemented phone and video appointments, checked-in regularly with past and present students and came together as a team to identify shifting challenges, discuss creative ways of providing support and collaborate together on outreach efforts. This last year has brought with it many stories of increased stress, anxiety, trauma, fatigue and grief in our students’ lives. For us, being able to offer students a confidential space to share some of this pain is important to us and we encourage anyone who might be struggling to reach out. You do not have to weather the storm alone!”

During this challenging time, students have been facing an increase in issues such as food insecurity, housing issues, domestic violence, access to resources, and staying motivated and focused to make it through their coursework successfully. Sarah created the “Friday Feels” podcast with the goal of building a community of shared students’ experiences that could assist others to see they are not alone in their struggles. Sarah states, “During a non-pandemic year, students could easily pop into one of our offices on campus, drop by for a meeting, join in an on-campus workshop or arts and crafts activity. Obviously, all of those face-to-face opportunities have gone away, yet those needs are still there and even more necessary and vital than ever.”

One surprise about the “Friday Feels” program Sarah didn’t expect was that the pandemic was going to last this long—no one did! She has since recorded 42 episodes, beginning each one focusing on a student’s journey facing challenges with “strength, creativity and wisdom”. The series topics range from “Grief, Perseverance, and Hope”, “Human Rights and Police Brutality”, and, “Art – Finding Beauty in the Present Moment” to name a few.

“Friday Feels” has become a virtual space for compassion, respect, and understanding. Upon listening to these programs, you clearly see our students are so resilient and brave, they truly embody what it means to be, “Berkeley Strong.”

Tiffany A GaryFreshman and Graphic Design major, Tiffany A. Gary said participating in the “Friday Feels” podcast, made her feel not so alone, “During these times I feel like a lot of us took on some mental stress because of Covid. It was nice to have the chance to just have a conversation and know that other people would hear me and probably relate to me because we’re all experiencing this together.”

Tiffany also thinks it’s very important to have these types of programs available to students, “College life is hard and can be very stressful. Help should be available for everyone. I absolutely recommend reaching out the Personal Counseling and Wellness Center, they work with your schedule and they’re not there to judge you. They’re not there to give you crazy advice that you have to take either. They’re just there to hear you out and support you by understanding you.” 

Taking a breath, Sarah warmly adds, “You never know what another person is going through. And sometimes, simply sharing your story helps you heal. Our shared experiences humanize us, bring us together, and give us the ability to access light and love during dark times.”

Now more than ever before, we all could use more of that. 

You can tune into “Friday Feels” on Yammer, access the library of recordings on Engage or click to listen to the Friday Feels podcast on YouTube.

If you or someone you know needs counseling reach out to The Office of Counseling and Wellness at Berkeley College below:

Contact Information

New York City
Diane Georges, Director of Personal Counseling and ADA Coordinator
212-986-4343 ext. 4216
Diane-Georges@BerkeleyCollege.edu

Alexandra Sabal Farah, Personal Counselor
212-986-4343 ext. 4263
Alexandr-Farah@BerkeleyCollege.edu

Sarah Nickerson, Personal Counselor
212-986-4343 ext. 4217
Sarah-Nickerso@BerkeleyCollege.edu

Newark
Danielle Hewitt, Personal Counselor
973-278-5400 ext. 6183
Danielle-Hewitt@BerkeleyCollege.edu 

Online
Sandra Coppola, Senior Director of Personal Counseling
973-278-5400 ext. 1320
SEC@BerkeleyCollege.edu 

Santa Rock, Personal Counselor
973-405-2111 ext. 6402
SGR@BerkeleyCollege.edu

Paramus
Santa Rock, Personal Counselor
973-405-2111 ext. 6402
SGR@BerkeleyCollege.edu

White Plains
Alexandra Sabal Farah, Personal Counselor
212-986-4343 ext. 4263
Alexandr-Farah@BerkeleyCollege.edu

Woodbridge
Danielle Hewitt, Personal Counselor
973-278-5400 ext. 6183
Danielle-Hewitt@BerkeleyCollege.edu 

Woodland Park
Sandra Coppola, Senior Director of Personal Counseling
973-278-5400 ext. 1320
SEC@BerkeleyCollege.edu 

Sheri Burkat, Personal Counselor
973-278-5400 ext. 1321
Sheri-Burkat@BerkeleyCollege.edu

Please consult the Berkeley College Privacy Policy for more information. 

EMERGENCY RESOURCES AVAILABLE 24/7

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, having thoughts of death or suicide, or is otherwise in a crisis situation, contact one of the following emergency resources:

Call 9-1-1 immediately or go to your local emergency room

NJ Hope line Suicide Prevention Hotline (NJ)
1-855-654-6735
www.njhopeline.com

The Samaritan’s 24-Hour Crisis Hotline (NY)
1-212-673-3000
www.samaritansnyc.org

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (National)
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)

*Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00175-z

The views and/or opinions in this article are those of the individuals interviewed. The academic achievements and/or employment outcomes described in this article are specific to each individual, and are not a guarantee of similar results for past or current students. For up-to-date and detailed information, please visit BerkeleyCollege.edu and view our catalogs at BerkeleyCollege.edu/publications

Empowering lives for 90 years!