Charlotte Grover has known since she was in high school that she wanted to pursue a career as a counselor or therapist.
“I've just always wanted to help people, to listen to people,” she says.
Grover has followed that path from her hometown of Greenville to the University of South Carolina, where she will graduate this month — a semester early — with a degree in psychology and minors in Spanish and counselor education. She plans to attend graduate school next fall to earn her master’s in social work.
Along the way, she has gained valuable research experience as a lab tech in psychology professor Peter Vento’s lab. And she has gotten an early start on what she expects will be a career in counseling by serving as the mental health and wellness delegate for her sorority, Kappa Delta. She and representatives from other sororities meet regularly to talk about ways to promote mental health on campus, with ideas ranging from planning self-care nights to offering advice on resources available for students in crisis.
“Honestly, I just offer a voice and someone to listen. I've really enjoyed being in this position, and it's made me meet a lot of new people. And it's been exciting because it's taught me more about myself and how I will be as a counselor. I like listening to other people's problems,” she says.
That role is especially important on college campuses today when mental health issues are at the forefront of concerns and discussion.
“I think that being in college is a time of life where there's a lot of uncertainties, and a lot of college students are just confused and don't know which way to go. It's also a time of a lot of stress and anxiety socially and academically. People are starting to try to do new things apart from what they were taught growing up by their parents. And with the pressure of trying to make friends and keep friends and do well academically, I think people forget about self-care and taking time keep their mental health strong.”
Grover says it’s a lesson she has learned from her own counselors: how to listen better and interpret what people are trying to say.
“My struggles have taught me how to help others,” she says. “I don’t have perfect mental health, but it definitely helps to be able to relate to situations and it makes people more comfortable talking to me, knowing that I've gone through some of the same things.”
She says she has loved her time at USC, where she has taken advantage of the opportunities a large university offers while also developing close ties with friends and professors.
“Coming into USC and knowing how big of a university it is, I was expecting huge, huge classes throughout freshman, sophomore, even into junior year. But I feel like USC does a really great job of having enough professors and small enough classes that you can really get to know your professors even as a freshman just starting out,” she says.
And she has advice for students who will be starting as USC freshman in the fall: “First of all, take care of yourself. Make your happiness and your well-being your first priority. And then be involved and make college the best four years of your life.”