The Class of 1970 makes student mental health a giving priority.
In the late 1960s, college students emerged as activists for positive change within their communities. During that same time, the Mary Washington Class of 1970 forged strong bonds of friendship and long-lasting connections.
To celebrate their 50th reunion in 2020, members of the class chose to invest in on-campus mental health services, specifically at the Talley Center for Counseling Services.
They were inspired by a 2014 gift made by Mary Washington alumna Betty Dobbins Talley ’68 to support and rename the facility. “I decided that this is what I want my legacy to be, because these services were not available to me and my peers,” says Betty. A counselor for more than 40 years, Betty specifically requested that ‘psychological services’ be removed from the name to reduce any perceived stigma of seeking out mental health services.
“Mental health, and seeking out help was once an invisible struggle, but it is now a major priority,” says Dr. Tevya Zukor, a licensed clinical psychologist and the director of the Talley Center.
Prior to the recent pandemic, students and young people were already experiencing mental health crises. According to Dr. Zukor, the onset of COVID-19 exacerbated existing anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and disordered eating.
“One of the biggest and most common challenges for Mary Washington students in the COVID age is navigating new-found social isolation and preparing for face-to-face interactions when they do happen,” says Dr. Zukor.
To continue the work begun by Betty Talley, the Class of 1970 initially set a fundraising goal of $50,000 to fund an additional endowment for the Talley Center. While they had to reschedule their anticipated celebration, they still were able to meet and even exceed the fundraising goal. In 2021, they announced their total gift to the University in support of the Talley Center was $56,018.
This new endowment will support a more diverse counseling staff featuring more women of color and non-English speaking and bilingual professionals to meet the needs of students. It also will assist in enhancing the Talley Center’s large training program, providing professional development for future mental health professionals.
In addition, the perpetual fund will enable the Center to continue hosting numerous student groups, including the LGBTQIA support group, the sexual assault survivor group, and the grief and loss group.
A student who wishes to remain anonymous says she found the Talley Center very helpful. “I came in with many issues that I knew I couldn’t solve myself. I found peace through new techniques provided by my counselor, and I’ve started to regain love for myself. Everyone is extremely welcoming and understanding.”
For more information about the Talley Center, visit https://students.umw.edu/counseling.
Article written by Advancement Intern Callie Jordan ’23