As his year at Andover comes to a close, Jeremiah Neal, Graham House Intern, will fondly remember the close connections he established with his colleagues throughout the year.
“Everyone at Graham House feels like more than a colleague of mine. They feel like part of my family, and I’ve formed lasting friendships that I’ll take with me forever,” said Neal.
During his time at Andover, Neal counseled students at Graham House and co-taught a section of a Personal and Community Education (PACE) class in the Winter and Spring Terms.
“At Graham House, I try to build a connection and a rapport,” Neal said. “I’ve been able to form a therapeutic relationship with students who had previous difficulties forming relationships and being consistent and coming to Graham House. Being able to form relationships with some of those people and students has been a triumph.”
Having already worked with children while as a Mental Health Counselor in the In-Patient Psychiatric Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital, Neal came to Andover with the goal of connecting more with adolescents, a group of people with which he was not used to working.
“The demographics of the patients we see [at the Boston Children’s Hospital] that are students is pretty acute. And so I was looking for different opportunities to interact with students who have psychiatric issues in an academic setting. Academia has always been an important part of my life and finding a way to blend the two was something I was looking for,” said Neal.
In addition to maintaining his job at the Boston Children’s Hospital and his internship at Graham House, Neal graduated this May with a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling at Lesley University.
Neal’s year at Andover also coincided with an exciting year personally: In October he got married, and he and his wife are now expecting their first child. These commitments and events have kept Neal busy throughout the whole year.
“Balancing two jobs and school has been very difficult. There’s been so many opportunities that have been presented to me to take part in a bigger way on campus and often times I had to turn those opportunities down because I was either working or at school,” said Neal.
“My weeks were like 65-hour weeks or something, so there’s been very little time for anything else. That’s probably my biggest regret and one thing I wish I could go back and change would be to free up some time to get more involved on campus,” he continued.
After leaving Andover, Neal will work at Northfield Mount Hermon School (NMH) in Gill, Mass.
“[NMH] will be an opportunity to really kind of come into my professional own and develop my style. It’ll be an opportunity to kind of make good on some of the missed opportunities at Andover. So being involved in some of the extracurricular activities, running an after-school group and really becoming a part of the community in a way that I wasn’t able to at Andover,” said Neal.
“I am interested in participating in any group the students of NMH are interested in starting. Whether formal or informal, affinity groups are essential to developing one’s sense of community. During my time at Andover, I’ve learned that one’s sense of membership in a community is fundamental to one’s happiness as well as a key variable in students’ success at boarding schools,” he added.
Neal’s experience at Andover has proved invaluable for his professional development.
“I think my work at Graham House is foundational and that it pretty much sets the tone or the groundwork for everything I’ll do in the future. It’s really helped me grow as a clinician,” said Neal.