From the Desk of William Stackman, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Shraddha Niphadkar is a licensed psychologist in the MU Counseling Center. Originally from India, she earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling in 2011 from Boston College, followed by a doctorate in counseling psychology in 2016 from the University of Florida.
Shraddha and all the Counseling Center staff recognize and understand that minority students face additional challenges navigating college and graduate school. Racial trauma is very real for our Black students and other students of color. In addition to a renewed attention to white supremacy and anti-Black violence, they also face the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s get to know Shraddha!
William Stackman: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Shraddha Niphadkar: I have a passion for working with students who identify as minorities — students of color, international students, LGBTQ+, lower socioeconomic status, religious minorities, etc. — both clinically as well as through outreach. My areas of clinical expertise include racial trauma, sexual trauma, grief and loss, acculturation concerns, depression and other mood disorders.
WS: What led to your interest in these areas of counseling?
SN: Being an international woman of color in the United States and having lived in various parts of this country have greatly influenced my drive for social justice. I have experienced racism, xenophobia and “othering” because of my identities. On the other hand, I am also privileged because I’m cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, educated and employed.
I often feel humbled by the adverse circumstances my clients go through to complete their education. Using my training, education and experience, I do everything I can for them.
WS: What resources does the Counseling Center offer that are specific to students of color and other minority students on campus?
SN: I’m co-leading two online support groups this summer — one for students of color and one for international students. The aim is to create safe spaces for the students to get together and process their experiences as well as get support in navigating their challenges.
We also offer online individual therapy as well as crisis and consultation services. Any student can access our crisis and consultation services, but, due to state licensing requirements, students must be living in Missouri to receive therapy.
WS: Therapists often emphasize self-care. What are some ways in which you engage in self-care?
SN: While self-care is often equated with luxury and self-pampering, it’s more about preventing burn-out. Self-care has become very important for me as I navigate working from home, engaging in social justice work and caring for my 7-month-old daughter.
As a minority individual, I can’t completely tune out the news. However, I do limit how often I check the news and social media during the day. I try to maintain as much structure as possible, working mostly during regular working hours. My family is very important to me. At home we go for daily walks, make food together, play with my daughter, etc.
I also engage in mindfulness every day, whether it is some form of mindful meditation — I highly recommend the Sanvello app — or engaging in at least one task mindfully; for me, it is usually cooking. Finally, I exercise two or three times a week because movement helps decrease my stress levels.
WS: Last question. What is your best advice for Mizzou students to be successful?
SN: Make full use of the resources Mizzou offers you. If you don’t know what all is available, ask your professors, friends, residence hall coordinators, etc.
Network, network, network! College and graduate school are tough to navigate by yourself. Talk to professors, visit career fairs and talk to potential employers, get in touch with seniors within your program and so on. The more relationships you form, the more you learn about college and job options.
Make friends beyond your immediate social circle. Often, we find it hard to leave our comfort zone and interact with people who seem different from us, whether it is skin color, nationality, accent, etc. This is your opportunity to get to know and become friends with people from different cultural backgrounds. This cultural exchange is as important as the formal education you are getting here.
Editor’s note: “Meet Student Affairs,” is a regular series in which I introduce a member of the Student Affairs community.