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Chris Ware ’17 began her college career at an art school in New York, but it did not take long for her to realize that the city life and the art field were not the right fit.
“After two to three months in art school, I realized that it just was not for me, so I dropped out,” said Ware. “I had toured LVC and fell in love with the campus. I knew I was looking to go somewhere with smaller class sizes, and living in Schuylkill County at the time, I found LVC to be the perfect distance from home.”
Although certain about her decision to come to LVC, Ware was not so sure about what major to pursue. During her first two years at LVC, she explored different classes, eventually taking to psychology.
“I was genuinely intrigued by the concepts and theories discussed in my psychology classes,” Ware said. “Through time, I developed relationships with professors I had for more than one class. Not only were they supportive and motivating, but they had a genuine investment in my future, both as a professional and as a person.”
It was through Dr. Lou Laguna, professor emeritus of psychology, Ware first learned about the Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center (SARCC) in nearby Lebanon. She completed an internship there her senior year that led to the full-time job offer.
At SARCC, Ware works as a sexual assault advocate and counselor, primarily with adults, but also occasionally seeing children and teens. Her primary job is to provide one-on-one counseling to survivors of sexual violence, which can include working with incarcerated survivors housed at the Lebanon County Correctional Facility (LCCF).
“My typical caseload is about 25 or more individuals, and I see about 10–15 of them at LCCF,” Ware said. “I also co-facilitate several psycho-educational groups, both in the office and in the correctional facility, using a curriculum that my co-worker and I created.”
In addition to acting as a counselor, Ware is the primary legal advocate at the organization. This position involves providing accompaniments and support to survivors who are going through the criminal justice system following a report of sexual assault or violence. Such accompaniments can include preliminary hearings, trials, and sentencings.
“I love everything about the work I do,” said Ware. “Sharing a moment with people who are enduring and/or processing some of the most difficult and personal moments of their life is not a privilege I take lightly. To feel as if you have made a genuine difference in someone’s life is an unexplainable feeling.”
Since starting at SARCC after graduation, Ware has furthered her education through additional training, attending conferences, and participating in online programs provided through SARCC. She became a Certified Clinical Trauma Practitioner and hopes to return to college to pursue a master’s degree to narrow her focus on incarcerated survivors.
“I have a special place in my heart for each person I meet. They often impact me as much as, if not more than, I impact them,” Ware said.
Photography credit: Emily Frances Photography
-- Parker Gallagher, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant