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Jeni Cook
January 4, 2023

UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy students will now have access to one-on-one counseling from the school’s inaugural embedded counselor, Ardith Burkes.

Through this position, Burkes will be able to provide mental health and wellness resources and support to pharmacy students as well as one-on-one counseling.

“I feel fortunate to be able to join the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and CAPS communities. I look forward to offering my experience and knowledge as I partner with students to increase their sense of wellbeing so that they can achieve their professional and personal goals with more ease,” said Burkes. “It’s important to me to create an accessible and non-judgmental space for students of all identities and backgrounds so that they can process the challenges of academics and life and learn skills to navigate them.”

Burkes is a triple Tar Heel, having received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Carolina in 2000. In 2007 she received both a Master of Social Work and also a Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health. She also has a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University.

Since her graduation in 2007, she has pursued two simultaneous career paths. She worked as the associate director, grants director and interim executive director at Compass Center in Chapel Hill. Compass Center provides relationship violence crisis intervention and group support, career and financial counseling, violence prevention education and sexual health education. She also worked with the community as a clinical social worker in private practice delivering individual and group psychotherapy to adults.

Burkes also spent several years managing sexual violence crisis programs at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.

“We are beyond thrilled to have Ardith join the pharmacy family. This has been years in the making and thanks to our students, the Well-Being Committee and the unending support of Dean Angela Kashuba, we are seeing this valuable resource come to fruition,” said Director of Well-Being and Resilience Suzanne Harris Pharm.D., BCPP. “I was inspired by Ardith’s vision in supporting student wellbeing by identifying approaches to normalize and reduce stigma around seeking support, finding multiple ways to reach students to ensure they are aware of resources, and creating environments where people feel safe.”

The embedded counselor program began in 2020 through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). It’s designed to provide mental health resources and wellness services to students across campus by placing CAPS providers directly within a school or department. As a CAPS provider, they will still have access to the training and resources provided through CAPS but will be able to focus on the needs of their particular school or department.

“Since the counselors are embedded within a specific program, they are able to become a part of the community,” said CAPS Interim Director Avery Cook. “This allows them to gain an understanding of the unique culture and stressors inherent to each school.”

The program currently has embedded counselors in the UNC School of Medicine, the UNC School of Law, Gillings School of Global Public Health and the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

The program model will allow Burkes to provide both day and evening appointments, in person and virtually, to accommodate the scheduling needs of all UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy students, including those on the Asheville campus.


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