With a future career planned in victim advocacy, Kimbrlei McCain has a dream to open an all-encompassing organization for those whose voices are too often not heard.
“What I’m really interested in is creating a one-stop non-profit for victims — legal counsel, counseling, housing,” said McCain, a graduate student studying clinical mental health from Wilsonville.
This would help sexual assault and domestic abuse victims, who McCain said are mostly women. They can go to trial against their assailant if they wish, receive counseling for this trauma and even provide things such as housing, as victims are sometimes left homeless after confronting their abusers.
“Really, acting as an agent of change in as many ways as possible,” she said of her goal. “As a counselor, we have to act in a lot of different roles.”
Though this dream may be a while in the making, McCain has come a long way.
Almost seven years have passed since she began as an undergraduate at Troy, and she’ll be leaving having left a mark on the campus before graduating in December.
The only intern currently at the Student Counseling Center, McCain counsels students and also runs the Trojan Outreach program.
“I meet with clients and help with any of the outreach events they might have,” she said.
She has been working there since she was an undergraduate and was also a peer educator during that time. As a graduate student pursuing her license, she is able to actually counsel students now.
McCain created the program Trojan Outreach on campus.
“It’s my baby. I built it from the ground up,” she said.
“Trojan Outreach is a peer education program that provides presentations, workshops, outreach campaigns and peer intervention for Troy University students,” according to the group’s Facebook page.
“We train undergrad students to present on mental health,” she said of the running of the program.
“I’ve really always just liked to be a voice for people who get shut down a lot of the time,” she said of the work she has been putting into her education.
Her desire is to empower people through their traumas, but not necessarily to receive praise for it.
“As a counselor, we don’t really look for that validation,” she said. “When (clients) are better and happy, they go out into the world and do their own thing.”
McCain said that what she has learned through counseling has helped her to grow as well.
“I think that it’s really influenced me to recognize the inequalities and how many people there are that are living with mental illness,” she said of her experience.
She said that one of the reasons why the general population may not be aware enough of the prevalence of mental health issues is the taboo placed upon it in society, noting that “it’s very stigmatizing” for the victims.
This could explain the further abuses that McCain said they often suffer moving forward.
“Just see how women are re-victimized by the criminal justice system by those that would support them in any other situation,” she said. “That’s what society is telling us to do.”