Although the student population has changed in age and technological savvy during his sixteen years at Mendocino College, Counselor/Professor Steve Crossman notes that the students have been consistent in their dreams. "They all come here to improve their lives," he says.
Raised in San Luis Obispo, Crossman first earned a BS in biochemistry from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (SLO); then, in a dramatic change of majors, he earned an MA in education, with a specialty in school counseling, also from SLO. "I originally planned to go to dental school," Crossman explains, "but found I was happier counseling students." He later studied exercise physiology at Sacramento State University, then transferred to UC Davis, where he earned a K-12 teaching credential. His interest in counseling led him to earn another MA degree in marriage and family counseling at the University of San Francisco.
While working as a marriage and family counseling intern at Mental Health Services in Willits, Crossman was invited by his supervisor, Noel O'Neill, to share a part-time academic counseling position at Mendocino College. He worked six years as a part-time counselor before joining the full-time faculty as an academic counselor in 2001.
Besides counseling, Crossman's past includes a year teaching chemistry and environmental science at James Logan High School in Union City. "That was enough!" he says. The experience inspired him to move on to employment at the community college level, where students attend school by choice.
Crossman worked in restaurant management during his undergraduate studies at Cal Poly, and he was a graduate teaching assistant while studying exercise physiology. While in Sacramento, he was a vocational rehabilitation counselor, assisting disabled workers to transition to different careers. He has been a fitness instructor at the Redwood Health Club in Ukiah, as well as a group home counselor in Redwood Valley. He worked with troubled kids and their families as a Mendocino County mental health intern. He also tutored math and science during most of his college career.
Crossman says the best part of his job is helping students improve themselves. "They have goals, and I get to share in their dreams and encourage them along the way." It is his style, he says, "to accept each person wherever they are on their journey."
The most challenging part of his job is not having enough time to help students research the schools, careers, and majors that would best suit them, to the degree that he would like. He is skilled, however, in providing students with tools to do the necessary research for themselves.
Crossman says he is passionate about "creating a society where people care about each other; where all persons are treated fairly and given the opportunity to improve their lives." He is proud that his position allows him to create social justice by making such opportunities available to students. His advice for someone who would like to become a college counselor is to interview several professional counselors to learn as much as possible about their positions.
Crossman believes students might be surprised to know that while he enjoys talking with people as his career, he also needs lots of solitude. "I could sit on the beach staring at the ocean all day, and that would be a good day," he muses.
Besides the ocean, Crossman enjoys hanging out with family, playing Frisbee, mountain biking, and flying stunt kites. His eldest son, Kody, is a student at MC. His son, Aedan, and daughter, Shamiana, have plans to attend MC in the future.