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When she took a position as a graduate assistant for NBCC in 2000, Dr. Wendi Schweiger may not have seen herself staying for almost 20 years, but now as Director of International Capacity Building, she couldn’t imagine herself anywhere else.
After completing her undergraduate and master’s degrees, Schweiger began her doctorate in counseling at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) with the intention of becoming a counselor educator. However, when NBCC began discussing their international efforts, Schweiger expressed an eager interest in helping to shape and grow these programs. Twenty years later, she’s one of the leaders of these initiatives.
Schweiger shares that her work is interesting and there is never a dull moment. She’s loved being a part of programs that are helping meet real needs in parts of the world with little access to mental health care. Her most recent highlight was a co-branded mental health conference held with the African Union in 2019 that focused on mental health services and resource allocation in Africa. Schweiger and NBCC also had an opportunity to share about the Mental Health Facilitator (MHF) program, which trains people outside the field of mental health in basic helping and referral skills to increase service capacity for meeting global mental health needs.
As a member of the larger NBCC family, Schweiger became a regular donor to the NBCC Foundation soon after its founding in 2005. Since then, she has been a vital supporter of the Foundation, both financially and by donating her time to the organization.
In 2017, she became a member of the Mentor ($10,000—$24,999) level of the Foundation’s Counseling Legacies Society, which recognizes donors whose dedicated support makes the Foundation’s enduring contributions to the underserved possible. And with her background in counseling, Schweiger has further given countless hours as an application reviewer for the Foundation’s scholarship and fellowship programs since 2010.
When asked why she continues to be involved with the Foundation through many avenues, Schweiger says, “I’m proud to work for a successful organization and one that understands that part of our mission should be about giving back.” She believes that counselors enter this profession from a place of wanting to contribute to our communities, and she feels strongly about giving back to the profession to support the love and passion of others who share the same goals.
As a first-generation college student, Schweiger says she would not have been able to complete her college degree without receiving several scholarships to help fund her education. Because of this financial support in her own life, Schweiger feels it is essential to support today’s students and chooses to do so through the Foundation.
Throughout her time volunteering with the Foundation, Schweiger has had the opportunity to meet and work closely with several Foundation scholarship and fellowship recipients. Many Foundation program alumni have been involved with the International Capacity Building (ICB) Department through their work with underserved populations as a part of the MHF program and through ICB’s institutes.
When asked about the Foundation’s impact on the counseling community, Schweiger, who is also a current adjunct counseling instructor at UNCG, says that she sees in current counselors-in-training a great sense of awareness of needs among communities and especially those of underserved areas.
She feels that the Foundation’s scholarship and fellowship programs are “bringing [people] in who have first-hand experience and knowledge in these communities and are willing to educate the rest of us about that reality.” She notes that as a result, these individuals provide a greater reach across a wide variety of demographics when providing counseling services to communities around the country and world.
When not working or volunteering for NBCC and the NBCC Foundation, Schweiger is a big proponent of self-care, especially for counselors. For her own self-care, she regularly practices yoga, is an avid runner, and enjoys spending time with her family in South Carolina. Schweiger also serves as a volunteer on the board of Youth Focus, a local nonprofit that offers a variety of services to Guilford County youth, including maternity, young women’s, transitional, and emergency housing and counseling services.
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