Davenport University’s Wellness Center meets the physical and mental health needs of students

Click here to watch a video on the Wellness Center and meet the counselors.


Sometimes life is hard, especially for college students navigating the world on their own for the first time. Stressors related to homework, test anxiety, homesickness, friendship difficulties or anxiety related to sports can really take a toll if not addressed. Often, what makes these issues manageable is having someone to talk to, and that is where Davenport University’s Wellness Center comes in. 

In the years following the pandemic, the university saw a staggering 105% increase in mental health services utilized by its students and recognized the need to further support their physical and mental health. 

The university envisioned meeting this need by opening a Wellness Center on its W.A. Lettinga Grand Rapids Campus where students could conveniently access mental health services and non-emergent medical care. In 2022, the Wellness Center became a reality thanks to a generous $1 million gift from Keith and Kathy Klingenberg to name the Klingenberg Family Mental Health Fund at Davenport University. The gift not only helped open the Wellness Center’s Mental Wellness space, but continues to provide funding for its staff.

The Wellness Center employs two full-time counselors who provide free and confidential mental health services to all currently enrolled students, both in-person and virtually, depending on the student’s preference. 

 “Providing our students with access to mental health services is important on so many levels and having dedicated staff onsite to offer this support has been extremely beneficial to our students,” said Dr. Joseph Bishop, executive director of Campus Life for Davenport University. 

Darrin Oliver, lead counselor at the Wellness Center, said students seek counseling for a number of different reasons and wants to emphasize that no issue is too big or too small. 

“Sometimes students just need someone to talk to because they are struggling in class, or they are dealing with the loss of a grandparent, or even a pet, but we also help students work through some very serious issues as well,” said Oliver. “We want students to know that if they need someone to talk to, that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to listen and provide students with the tools and resources needed to help them work through any issue, big or small,” he said.   

Kaitlyn Ray, a business management major specializing in global project management and a member of the women’s soccer team, is your typical student-athlete. She’s competitive and wants to perform at her best on and off the field. When she began experiencing anxiety related to practices and games, she thought about going to see a counselor but assumed what she was experiencing wasn’t important enough and didn’t want to waste a counselor’s time with something they might perceive as trivial. 

She began to see things differently when Oliver spoke to her team about the Wellness Center and the services it provides. 

“Darrin let us know that the counselors are available to help with whatever issues we are dealing with and that they’ll never turn us away because our issues aren’t important enough,” said Ray.  “At that moment, I knew I should give it a try, and I’m so glad I did because I’m a completely different player than before I started counseling,” she said.

Ray said anxiety used to sink in before every practice and game but worsened this past season due to an injury. 

“I had just come back from an ACL injury and wasn’t sure where I stood on the team. I’d get so nervous that I couldn’t even eat,” said Ray. “Counseling has taught me how to calm my anxiety and how to approach different situations,” she said.

Ray said she was nervous before her first counseling appointment, but that Michaela Lewis, a counselor at the Wellness Center, quickly put her at ease. 

“I didn’t feel judged at all,” said Ray. “She reassured me that my problems were valid, and I knew after that first session that counseling was going to be good for me.”

Ray openly shares her positive counseling experience with others and encourages anyone who needs help to reach out to the Wellness Center and that there is no shame in doing so. 

“The counselors at the Wellness Center will listen to you no matter what. If you’re stressed about a test, they’ll listen to you, and if there’s something bigger going on, they will listen to you,” she said. 

Lewis also has a message for anyone who has been thinking about seeing a counselor but isn’t sure if it will be beneficial or not.

“I tell students that if they give the Wellness Center a try, best case scenario, it helps them,” said Lewis. “Worst case scenario is it’s not for them, and they can move forward, but they won’t know unless they give it a chance.”

If you would like to make an appointment to see one of the counselors at the Wellness Center, you can: 

Wellness Center staff are available 24/7 by calling 616.340.5243.


Health services are also available.

A nurse employed by Corewell Health is also available to treat non-emergent medical concerns or illnesses. There is no charge for these visits. To schedule an appointment, call 616.871.6166.


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