Second generation teacher builds legacy of inclusion at CSU

Photo of Sarah Hervey

If you’re connected to Colorado State University, the name Sarah Hervey might sound familiar. Hervey was a former master’s student in the Department of Psychology, is a second-generation professor at Colorado State University, was selected for the Minority Fellowship Program for Addictions Counselors from the National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation in 2019, and continues to make an outstanding impact on and off campus.

Recently, Hervey came back to CSU once again, and you’ll see her name listed as an adjunct professor for a new course: PSY 775 – Diversity Issues in Counseling.

Putting in the work

Sarah Hervey was born in Fort Collins with strong connections to CSU. Her late father, Bill Hervey, was a beloved professor and advisor in the College of Liberal Arts.

After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in psychology, Hervey got a job at a residential adolescent treatment facility and fell in love with addiction counseling work. This inspired her to get a master’s degree, which would allow her to pursue a career in therapy for addiction and mental health counseling.

When deciding where to pursue her master’s, her childhood memories of CSU’s campus influenced her decision to come back to Fort Collins, and in some ways, she said, it felt meant to be. At the time, CSU had just started its Masters in Addiction Counseling program.

A few years later, she graduated from the program. Hervey is now a licensed addiction counselor, a licensed professional counselor candidate, and come May, she will be fully licensed for mental health counseling.

Now, as a second-generation professor at CSU, she is not only continuing her father’s legacy but building one of her own.

“I don’t even know the words to describe it,” Hervey said regarding teaching at CSU. “It’s really incredible. It means a lot to me.”

What it takes to create a course

Although Hervey works full-time as a therapist at the Neurofeedback Clinic of Northern Colorado, she still managed to create and teach a new course.

This spring, she launched her class: Diversity Issues in Counseling (PSY 775) in the Masters in Addiction Counseling Program.

The course has three parts: treating diverse populations, trauma-informed care for diverse populations, and culturally informed treatment.

Although the Masters in Addiction Counseling Program is new itself, when Hervey graduated from the program in 2020, there were some changes she wanted to see.

“I wish there were some more discussion or more teaching on diversity and counseling, and how to work with people who are different than you,” she said.

With the help of her program directors, Brad Conner and Mark Prince, she created a course to fill this gap. Now, she gets to be on the other side of the classroom and provide students with a course that she wished she had while in the program.

“As a therapist, you work with so many different people, and understanding how your own background impacts people that you work with — me being a person of color myself — I thought it was really important to have those things taught in school,” she said.

Putting everything together for a course is certainly a challenge, but Hervey enjoyed the work and the new experiences this opportunity brought.

As a first-time teacher, Hervey did not know what to expect. Despite the challenges, she is excited to get feedback from students to refine the class, and hopes her students are open to learning even when challenging subjects arise.

“I’m hoping people are open to learning about themselves,” she said. “I think that can be kind of challenging, those discussions in class can be a little difficult to talk about race and a lot of diversity issues.”

A journey from student to teacher

Hervey credits the Minority Fellowship Program for Addictions Counselors for giving her these opportunities and preparing her for this moment.

In 2019 she was awarded this fellowship through the National Board for Certified Counselors and the NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals. This Fellowship intends to help increase the number of counselors working with clients of diverse backgrounds and the recipients are required to commit to teaching minority populations.

Through the Fellowship she networked for the first time with other professionals who are people of color and found her passion for teaching while surrounded by other counselors and educators.

“I absolutely think [my Fellowship] is the only reason that I feel like I’m doing this,” she said. “I definitely feel like I’m stepping out of my comfort zone a lot of the time.”

Brad Conner has seen Hervey’s journey throughout CSU as her program director. He was a reference for Hervey’s Fellowship, and throughout her transition from student to teacher, he says she has been a key part of their program.

“She moves beyond traditional instructional methods to include immersive experiences in her class, and she trains in alternative and cutting-edge treatments for addictions which she brings to class instruction as well,” said Conner.

Conner also mentioned it is important to note that Hervey is one of the first Black women to teach in the Department of Psychology.

Through both her undergraduate and graduate degrees, Hervey said she never had teachers that were people of color, so she is excited to bring that to this department.

“I have a lot of different feelings about it,” said Hervey. “It gets really exciting for me on one hand and on the other, it made me sad to know that there’s not a lot of Black women that have been teaching in the department, but I’m hoping that it will grow.”

The lack of representation throughout Hervey’s educational experience does not mean she has lacked support. She draws inspiration from her family and the connections she made throughout her Fellowship.

Hervey has already had a tremendous impact on Colorado State University. In the future, she hopes to be a resource for people, someone that students can relate to and come to with any questions they might have.

“I want people to leave after my class being better counselors than they were when they started,” she said.