As the head counselor at Fernley High School, Piper McCarthy enjoyed helping students sort out their futures and become excited about the next step. Now, McCarthy assists career-minded students at Western Nevada College as the new interim director of Counseling Services.
McCarthy said, “It’s exciting to work with kids who are trying to figure things out. They want to succeed, and I want them to succeed.”
She counseled students at Fernley High School for nine years following her education at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., and at Eastern Washington University.
“Piper was the lead counselor at Fernley High School, the highest-performing high school in the new Jump Start College program,” said WNC Dean of Student Services John Kinkella. “Her devotion to the welfare of students, her strong work ethic and her outstanding interpersonal skills are just some of the reasons the college is delighted to have her on board. We are especially excited about the wealth of student-success experience she brings from the high school level, and are looking forward to applying these lessons for our students.”
McCarthy understands the uncertainty many college students are going through. She was there. At one time, she considered a career as a city planner. But while she couldn’t decide which career to pursue, she double majored in speech communications and sociology, discovering her love for education.
At WNC, she wants students to be aware of what’s available to them in the Counseling Services office. The college’s counselors provide academic counseling, career exploration and emotional counseling.
“I’ll be spending almost all of my time helping students find their career, and advising which college classes to take for their major,” she said.
To assist students who are unsure about their careers, Counseling Services provides a free self-assessment tool called the Career Finder. It assists students in pinpointing a career or major that matches their interests, skills and abilities.
“I think there are lot of students out there who don’t know what they want to do and they don’t have help and guidance. I don’t think they know where to begin, and we have tons of tools,” McCarthy said. One of those tools, Career Finder, “gives them some direction so they aren’t shooting in the dark.”
She also will benefit from the extensive counseling experience offered by former counseling director Deb Case.
“Everything is brand new to me,” McCarthy said. “Learning that Deb was going to be staying on was a relief, and she has been a tremendous amount of help.”
“Deb Case’s service to the college and the community has been significant and impactful,” Kinkella said.
Advising students about their futures and encouraging them to begin taking control of their lives before graduation stimulated McCarthy at Fernley High School.
“I like the fact it’s the age where they are starting to see the relation between what they are doing right now and their futures,” McCarthy said. “They are starting to see that they need to make decisions, so they are starting to get interested in ‘what am I going to do with my life when I graduate from high school?’”
McCarthy also coached athletics throughout most of her time at Fernley, overseeing the girls soccer and track programs. Those coaching duties gave students an opportunity to become more comfortable with their counselor.
“It’s hard for kids sometimes to come into the counseling office and ask for assistance; it kind of opened the door,” McCarthy said.
And after the high school students head home, McCarthy hurries home to her own three young children.
As the fall semester begins, McCarthy said she plans to keep her door open to students as much as possible.
“Ultimately, what I want to accomplish is to assist in any way I can to see that WNC students are successful,” McCarthy said.