Applying past job skills, new Health and Wellness director empowers coworkers

The Health and Wellness Center at South Plains College has a new director with a goal of helping students.

Crystal Gilster, the new director, explained that she was raised in counseling and therapy because of her parents.

“My mom was the second female psychologist in Lubbock,” Gilster said. “My step dad taught at Texas Tech in Special Education for years.”

Gilster was born and raised in Lubbock and later attended Lubbock Christian University, where she graduated with her Master of Science Degree in counseling.

Gilster has been teaching at SPC part time for years, serving as an adjunct instructor in psychology.

“I never really left SPC,” she said. “I was here in their counseling and advising center, when counseling and advising were together, as a counselor. Then I started adjuncting, teaching general psychology.”

Gilster was a counselor at SPC from 2011-2014, and has a counseling private practice that she started in 2013. She continues to see clients, but is limited to one night a week and Saturdays. Gilster has taught a few other classes besides general psychology, such as Career Assessment class and Learning Frameworks.

She also has worked for the Frenship ISD as a Special Education counselor for four years.

“I definitely wanted the position (at SPC),” she shared. “It worked out perfectly. The timing was just right.”

Gilster’s goal is to encourage and support the divisions for each of the areas of disability services, the health clinic, and the counseling center.

“My personal mission statement is to empower others on their journey, to learn, grow, and heal,” said Gilster, who added that she wants the three divisions to be able to do that as well.

“It kind of works out perfectly,” Gilster said. “That was already my mission statement. Here I am in a place where that’s what we do. We help students learn, grow, and heal.”

Gilster said she feels that her skill set she obtained from previous jobs has really prepared her to work in the different areas.

“I feel like I’m a natural encourager,” she said, “and counseling is my passion.”

She explained that she’s not counseling at the moment unless there is a crisis situation.

“I feel like I’m using those same skills that you use in counseling to help and empower the people who are working with students doing that,” Gilster said.

Gilster has five children, four teenage boys and a girl who is 2 ½ years old.

Gilster acknowledged that the Health and Wellness Center’s hours can be difficult for students sometimes, and said it is something that can be looked at.

“I really want to bring us into the 21st century so we can have more information available via technology,” Gilster said of future plans. “Maybe we could have some apps and other resources that will kind of help guide them (students) if it’s after hours and we can’t connect.”

She said that they are adding different events in order to try to connect with students at different times. However, she said that it also depends on what students are coming in for, such as for counseling, which  would have to be during their normal counseling hours.

One of the different events is a program called StepUp, which focuses on stepping up to support others in need, drug and alcohol prevention, as well as prevention for sexual assault, and more. StepUP is hosted by Rachel Montgomery and Vinnie Gomez, who are counselors at South Plains College.

“I feel like what we can do for students is very unique,” Gilster said, adding that SPC has a unique place in helping people.

Gilster also explained that this time in a student’s life is incredibly important.

“It’s very fertile soil, and vulnerable at times,” said Gilster. “Students are transitioning into adulthood or from one career to another, which can be hard, exciting, and scary.”

“What we do here helps to support and make that transition better,” Gilster added. “Some kids can fall through the cracks, and I think we can really help them in that process, so they retain and continue to move forward in their education.”

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