University welcomes new director for counseling services

Allison Mueller

Benedict Ezeoke, Winona State University’s new director for counseling services. (Photo by Lauren Reuteler)
Benedict Ezeoke, Winona State University’s new director for counseling services. (Photo by Lauren Reuteler)

Dana Scott / Winonan

After a nation wide search, Winona State University hired Benedict Ezeoke as the new director for counseling services.

Ezeoke has his doctoral degree in counselor education and supervision and is also a licensed professional counselor, whose many experiences prepared him for this position.

Lynda Brzezinski, one of Winona State’s current counselors, headed the search committee to fill this position. She shared how the search committee, which consisted of members from different areas around campus, was looking for a mix of qualities in the ideal candidate.

“We were looking for someone with strong leadership skills but also strong interpersonal skills,” Brzezinski said. “We wanted someone who seemed invested in the college student population.”

Brzezinski explained the director of counseling services position deals with many administrative tasks to help the counselors with the main focus of the department, which is helping students with mental health concerns.

“We felt [Ezeoke] had the right mix of qualities to not only connect with and support students, but to help guide the counseling services department as a whole,” Brzezinski said.

Ezeoke is new to both Winona and Minnesota; his first time in the state of Minnesota was for his interview for this position. He spent the last eight years of his life living in Chicago and he likes Winona because of its “slow pace way of living,” compared to a big city like Chicago.

Ezeoke is passionate about working in counseling services because he enjoys helping people get better from the lowest points of their lives, helping them discover themselves and be able to mange their lives.

“In general, I love supporting and helping people,” Ezeoke said.

What interested Ezeoke in this position at Winona State was being able to apply all the theories he studied during his schooling.

His main and most general goal in his new position is to add structure to the department to be able to provide the best for students. Another goal Ezeoke has is to bring topics surrounding diversity to the department.

“Each student is different, so we need balanced counselors to give opportune counseling without insulting students,” Ezeoke said.

Another goal for this year is to provide services to Minnesota State College Southeast Technical and Community College and Winona State’s Rochester campus more effectively by meeting with people from Southeast Tech next month.

Regarding counseling services at Winona State, Ezeoke would like to highlight a few things for new students or students who are not familiar with everything the department provides.

Students can access Winona State’s counseling services website for information or call the front desk, and in critical situations they accept walk-in appointments.

“It is an easy process,” Ezeoke said. “There is no case we don’t have a good counselor for, and we will be waiting for you whenever you decide to seek help.”

Ezeoke explained the biggest issues dealt with on college campuses are anxiety, depression and dealing with adjustment, attachment and separation.

However, Ezeoke stressed one does not need to have a mental health concern to seek out counseling services; it can be used if one is feeling angry, overwhelmed, lonely or just in need of someone to talk to.

“There is nothing stigmatic about [mental health problems], nothing terrible about it. It is a human issue, most people have it. Be proud of yourself that you noticed something was wrong, be aware of it and seek help. We are here to support you and we are here to help you,” Ezeoke said.

Ezeoke believes there is too much pressure on people these days and that it is important to slow things down and let people take time to breathe.

Lastly, Ezeoke wants students to know they have access to one of the best counseling services and that the staff is passionate and will go out of their way to make sure students succeed.