Nichole Summers, pictured above with her family, is a counselor in Academic and Student Affairs for the College of Veterinary Medicine.
When did you begin working at the College of Veterinary Medicine?
I joined the college in May 2022.
Describe your role at the college.
As the counselor, my primary responsibility is to provide mental health and wellbeing support which can be through any number of services such as individual psychotherapy; referrals to other College, University, or community resources; and supporting wellbeing efforts throughout the College.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My absolute favorite part of my job is bearing witness to the incredible strength and courage it takes to grow through challenging circumstances. Being trusted with someone’s vulnerability makes seeing their success all the more special, which is truly an honor and I love seeing someone’s willingness to work at finding their core sense of self and then blossoming into the best version of that.
Complete this sentence: My most memorable day at work was…
…tricky to share. Due to the nature of my work, I’ll maintain privacy around some of the most heartwarming (and challenging!) stories, but trust there are many that I will never forget. One memorable moment during my time here was when I was first asked to present and this was not part of my professional history. Since I think it’s important, and I wanted to help, I was quick to agree. Then, I think the imposter syndrome must have oozed out of the walls- the experience was new to me, but the thickness unmistakable. When I shared with a faculty member my feeling nervous, she was so kind in reminding me that I was hired because of trust in my ability, even if I was not quite as practiced in this area and that made all the difference for me. While still being able to be nervous, I could face the challenge, acknowledge the limits, and grow through it, just as we ask students to do. It was not the best presentation for sure, but an accomplishment nonetheless and such a great reminder that regardless of skill, knowledge, or practice, we all continue to grow everyday if we allow ourselves to be lifelong learners across life domains.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy so many things! Two of the most significant for me are traveling with my family and dog training. I also enjoy reading, hiking, watching athletics, gardening, cooking, yoga, paddle boarding, learning, art, puzzles/games, relaxing…
What is something your co-workers may be surprised to know about you?
My husband and I minimized our wedding expenses in order to go to Bora Bora for our honeymoon. Hands-down, best trip ever!
What is one thing on your bucket list?
This is a big list, too, but my current focus is taking my children to experience all 50 United States before they graduate high school. Then to go see the rest of this big amazing world!
Do you have a favorite restaurant or place in the Champaign/Urbana area?
Truthfully my favorite place is my home for the comfort and getting to have your own artistic spin on a meal. But I love so many places in C-U – Farren’s, Sun Singer, Big Grove Tavern, Hopscotch/Lit – especially when the weather is nice to sit outside and have the downtown vibe.
Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
Eating – I’m a total foodie and while technically maybe considered a necessity, I just love trying new recipes, restaurants, especially locally-owned and operated style.
Do you have any pets?
Yes! In 2020 our 16-year-old dog died and we were pet-less for the first time, possibly ever. The kids had each been wanting a rabbit and hedgehog for years and we’d said no given our busy lifestyle. Because things in 2020 slowed down, and we unexpectedly lost our only pet, in December of that year we adopted a giant-breed rabbit (Hagrid) and a hedgehog (Nugget) from the Champaign County Humane Society. While they are great and the rabbit especially is super-trainable, I also learned that I personally function best with a dog. So, in April of 2021, we brought home our Cardigan Welsh Corgi puppy (Fizzy) – a breed I’d wanted 20 years ago and ended up with a Pembroke who was great, but this was the perfect opportunity to return to that dream and we are so happy we did (even if my husband got his pick of the litter that was different than mine😊).