Alum William Semon Discovers His Passion for Mental Health Counseling and Advocacy

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With a long-time interest in history, William Blake Semon thought he would major in the subject as a college student. That was before he took his first psychology course at Mercer County Community College.

Semon recalls that his "Introduction to Psychology" and other psychology and humanities courses gave him a new awareness about mental health and societal ills. "I had many great professors; they sparked my interest in sharing knowledge with others," says Semon.

He also saw direct parallels between his studies and the struggles of those close to him. The suicide of a dear friend and mentor ultimately led to his decision to embark on a career in the field of psychology. Today Semon is a wellness coach at Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services, Inc., in Annandale, NJ, an agency that serves Central New Jersey residents confronting mental illness.

William Semon

Joining the Bridgeway staff in December, 2009, Semon is part of an intensive residential team that provides transitional support to individuals who are discharged from state psychiatric hospitals. Much of his job entails conducting counseling sessions and advocating for clients.

"We help our clients regain their voice in a system that often overlooks them and sees them as a diagnosis, not as human beings," maintains Semon. "I am lucky that I am not sitting behind a desk all day. I love being able to advocate for my clients' needs."

A graduate of Hunterdon Central Regional High School, Semon's decision to attend MCCC was partly financial and partly a matter of following in the footsteps of his mother and sister, who are Liberal Arts graduates of the college. While at Mercer, Semon was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and Alpha Mu Gamma, the Foreign Language Honor Society; he also served as a psychology tutor.

After graduating from MCCC in 2006 with an A.A. in Humanities and Social Science, Semon received an academic scholarship to attend Fairleigh Dickinson University for an accelerated five-year B.A./M.A. program. He earned a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a master's degree in Clinical Counseling Psychology.

Before starting at Bridgeway, Semon worked with young people, first at Hunterdon Youth Services, an adolescent male group home, and then as an adolescent drug and alcohol counselor for Daytop Village of New Jersey, a long-term residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. He was also a primary therapist for children and youth at Foundations Behavioral Health in Doylestown, Pa.

Semon hopes to one day open a wellness therapy center that offers a range of mental health, expressive and physical forms of therapy and is open to all, no matter what their financial circumstances. He is currently applying to doctoral programs in psychology and also plans to seek certification in bio-neurofeedback, a method to optimize psychophysiological functioning.

He is also giving back to the college that helped him shape his future. He serves as an adjunct instructor at MCCC, teaching "Introduction to Psychology."

"School is not just a place to spend time during your day," he stresses. "Get involved. Engage in debates and conversation with your fellow students and professors. The work you do at MCCC can prepare you for many of your life's endeavors and open up doors that you might not have ever thought possible."

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