Spring 2012 Stories
Distinct Stories, Distinct Backgrounds
By Laura Hersh
Early in the 2000s, a working class student from Mason County, a hair salon manager and a transfer from the University of Washington were students at Evergreen. The experience was life-changing. Today, these three alumni are a dynamic trio of psychotherapists who share a practice and office space in downtown Olympia.
Jens Lund, Terri Pressly and David Shultis
Terri Pressly, Jens Lund and David Shultis benefit from having their colleagues’ support, common language, and background in training from Evergreen. They enjoy collaborating on new ideas, such as planning a group therapy project on the exploration and liberation of children, teens and adults from video game addiction. The Evergreen influence can be seen in their business practices—Evergreen students receive discounts, with an additional $5 off if you come by bus, bike or other forms of alternative transportation. In addition to the common Greener heritage of attending Evergreen at roughly the same time, the trio connected more directly through their experiences as graduate students at St. Martin’s University and as volunteers at the Crisis Clinic.
While Shultis was a full-time day student, Pressly and Lund were Evening and Weekend Studies students. For Pressly, higher education was a family value, as well as distinctly time for her. Pressly helped put two daughters through school, including Sakura who also graduated from Evergreen through Evening and Weekend Studies. “When I got to Evergreen, the minute I parked and walked into class, I could be in the moment–and it was just for me. Because when you’re a mom, a wife, and a manager of 25 people, you think, ‘it’s going to be so nice someday to be responsible for just myself, not everybody else,’ ” says Pressly, 55, who was managing J.C. Penney’s hair salon at the time.
For Lund, 36, being a student at Evergreen meant challenging the barriers of socio-economic class. “Growing up in a small town like Shelton, there’s a lot of adversity,” Lund says. “Misconceptions about going to college for working class people need to be expressed to the world better. There is a certain belief system that I’m not smart enough, I’m not good enough. Evergreen forced me to face my own demons. I came to grips with who I was, what I wanted, and how I was holding myself back. If you don’t go through that process, how are you going to help people through theirs? It was really cathartic, really powerful. My life is completely transformed now from where it probably would have been. Everybody is more than capable of getting through school, especially if they have the passion and the drive to do it.”
For Shultis, 32, program manager of the Crisis Clinic of Thurston and Mason Counties, his Evergreen education guided by top-notch faculty helped him understand the importance of story–both one’s own and stories of others. “It’s affected my approach to therapy. At Evergreen I learned that everyone has a story and that the telling of it is important,” says Shultis, who also attended the University of Arizona before transferring to Evergreen. “So don’t feel like you have to hold onto it, or that your story isn’t good enough. But rather that your neighbor might really benefit from hearing it–and you will certainly benefit from telling it.”
At Evergreen, Shultis adds, “You’re collaborating with professors who’ll honestly ask you ‘what do you want to learn this quarter? What do you want to focus on?’ And they mean it.”
Laura Hersh is an Evening and Weekend Studies student in two programs: Art, Culture, and Education and Telling Our Stories: What Makes Communities Work.