Working as a school counselor takes a unique type of passion to serve and create change in students’ lives. School counselors not only serve the needs of students, but the needs of families as well.
Dr. Julie Baumberger manifests this passion by providing effective counseling both within, and outside of, academic settings. Dr. Baumberger’s decades of work has had tremendous impact on her clients, as she strives to create safer and more supported spaces for students. Her commitment to helping students has also led Dr. Baumberger to donate more than six years of volunteer work as a mentor to future counselors through the NBCC Foundation.
Dr. Baumberger earned an EdD degree from the University of South Dakota in counseling and psychology in education, and has experience working both as faculty and in administration, in addition to many years of field work as a licensed therapist. Early in her career, Dr. Baumberger worked as a school counselor, and she was one of the first ever elementary school counselors in South Dakota.
Subsequently, Dr. Baumberger transitioned to becoming a K–12 school counselor and psychometrist. As her career progressed, Dr. Baumberger began teaching at the university level in a CACREP counselor preparation program. Following a move to Arkansas, Dr. Baumberger developed and taught in a new graduate school counseling program for Arkansas Tech University. During this period, she also taught cohorts of graduate students from Taiwan and maintained a private practice serving culturally and socioeconomically diverse youth and adults. In recognition of her achievements, Dr. Baumberger was named Educator of the Year in 2004 by the American Mental Health Counselors Association.
Embarking on a new career adventure in 2006, Dr. Baumberger moved to the island of Dominica, in the West Indies, where she worked as a staff therapist and guest lecturer at the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). She was quickly promoted to director of the RUSM counseling center. In 2009, Dr. Baumberger was named Dean of Students at the University of Medicine and Health Sciences, another U.S. medical school on the island of St. Kitts. After the birth of her first grandchild, Dr. Baumberger returned to the U.S. and in 2011, she became core faculty at Capella University, where she currently teaches in the master’s and doctoral clinical psychology program.
In her role as mentor to NBCCF graduate counseling students, Dr. Baumberger feels she is most successful when a mentee reaches out to seek her guidance. In Dr. Baumberger’s own words: “The successful moments are when a mentee calls to tell me of making the 'short list' for a faculty position or of a presentation they successfully delivered at a national conference. Or when one young woman had a ribbon-cutting ceremony for an organization that she birthed, [which involved] matching trained survivors of intimate partner violence to other survivors who have recently escaped from their abuser. Most recently a mentee talked excitedly with me about his personal mission to learn from the LGBTQ community how to best advocate for their rights as a non-gay man.”
Dr. Baumberger’s mentees inspire her daily to continue to be the best mentor and counseling educator she can. She shares, “They inspire me to work harder at connecting marginalized populations with opportunities to share their many skills and gifts through my work as a professional educator. When mentoring NBCC fellows, I notice that much of my work involves listening for what they might need and connecting them to that resource.”
Dr. Baumberger’s mentoring philosophy mirrors the approach she uses with her clients. She makes sure she truly understands who her mentees are personally and professionally as well as how their experiences have shaped them as people. According to Dr. Baumberger, “Each mentee comes with a different idea of what it means to be mentored—having a unique interpretation of my role. The first step then is to bring those beliefs to light. From there, I work to become the mentor that mentee needs for that particular leg of their journey.”
Dr. Baumberger’s advice to those who have thought about becoming a mentor is: “Jump in—with both feet.” She believes that one should have an open mind about the process in order to be best supported during the journey. Again, she says, “Jump in with both feet. It will be a soft landing, I promise. The [NBCC] Foundation has developed a wonderful, user-friendly program design to support both mentees and their mentors. The nuts and bolts for tracking and documenting the mentor/mentee progress are well in place, allowing mentors to focus on what they do best—supporting and encouraging the next generation of licensed professional counselors and counselor educators.”
When asked about her next steps as a mentor and counseling educator, Dr. Baumberger shares a desire to utilize her own experience and journey in the world of nonprofits. She wants to help inform those who work with underserved communities how to become a united front and how to learn from one another. She states, “I want to be a part of organizations that recognize as a society we’ve outgrown current models of organizational leadership. Organizations that are willing to value and trust that by inviting the entirety of a person to the organization, it will be more successful. I am a big fan of Fredrick Laloux. I hope to find that workplace ethos one day. That would be most thrilling.”