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Strengthening Rural Community Colleges Webinar - Protecting the Mental Health of Rural Community College Students: Creative Innovations in Challenging Times
Since the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a steady stream of events (e.g., socio-political unrest, economic stressors, systemic racism, health disparities) that have created enormous pressure on higher education to sustain their mission and to support their students adequately. These pressures have been particularly sharp for community colleges in rural areas. The primary aim of the presentation is to provide an up-to-date overview of the challenges and a summary of feasible student support innovations that can be implemented and sustained in rural community colleges.


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Kurt Michael, Ph.D.
Clinical Director of Jed High School West @The JED Foundation
Dr. Kurt Michael is the Clinical Director of Jed High School, West. He recently retired as the Stanley R. Aeschleman Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Appalachian State University. He was trained at the University of Colorado – Boulder (B.A., cum laude), Utah State University (M.S., Ph.D.), and Duke University Medical Center (Clinical Psychology Internship). Dr. Michael’s primary areas of research and clinical practice are adolescent suicidology, school mental health, and rural healthcare. Dr. Michael’s empirical work has appeared in numerous scientific journals. In addition to Dr. Michael’s research interests, he is a practicing Licensed Psychologist and in 2006, developed and implemented interdisciplinary school mental health partnerships titled the Assessment, Support, and Counseling Centers in rural western North Carolina. Dr. Michael joined the Jed Foundation in July of 2022 to help oversee the scaling up of the JED Foundation’s Comprehensive Model in the western U.S.
Diana Cusumano, LHMC, NCC, RYT
Director of JED Campus & Wellness Initiatives @The JED Foundation
Diana comes from a background in higher education prior to JED where she worked for 12 years gaining experience in college counseling, student affairs and academic services. She has now worked at JED for over 5 years. In her current role she oversees the JED Campus program, which has 400 schools nationwide. She is a licensed, national certified mental health therapist and a registered 500 hour yoga teacher. Diana continually educates herself on the most up to date mindfulness and leadership practices and has taken courses most recently with Mindful Schools, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, has her Koru Mindfulness Teacher Certification and is Dare to Lead trained.