Meet the Team

Counseling & Wellness Services Staff

Our professional staff are available to answer questions, discuss wellness issues, provide one-on-one counseling or assist students with referrals to campus and community resources.

Carla Benson
Client Services Supervisor
(she/her/hers)

Carla Benson has worked at EWU since August 2017. The favorite part of her job is talking with students. She loves getting weird memes from her kids, figuring out which video games her cat likes to watch, and listening to music.

Cole Evers, M.S.                                        Psychological Counselor,                        Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Cole has a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in Biology, and a Masters of Science in Counselor Education with an emphasis in mental health counseling from Eastern Washington University.

During Cole’s undergrad, he spent a semester studying psychology in Australia through EWU’s study abroad program. During Cole’s graduate program, he was a clinical mental health intern at the EWU counseling center.

After graduating with his Masters, he moved to Vancouver Washington working with non-profit mental health agencies. He gained valuable experience working with these agencies and now applies that knowledge to the university counseling setting.

He focuses on interpersonal factors and strength-based approaches to assist clients in their journey. Cole is designated as the EWU veteran resource centers (VRC) liaison and works to create a line of communication and access for students using the VRC. Cole enjoys spending time with his friends and family along with reading, golf, and boating in the summer.

Laura Gant, MPH
Associate Director of Wellness Services
lgant@ewu.edu

Laura has a Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education, a Master of Public Health with a Health Service Administration Certificate from Eastern Washington University. After completing her bachelor's degree, she spent several years as a health educator in Spokane County for a non-profit. Within this position, Laura gained valuable experience instructing community-based health education including tobacco cessation, parenting classes, CPR, first aid, employee wellness, health coaching, and outreach to low-income and underserved populations.  Laura is passionate about health promotion and loves being able to help college students reach wellness goals through wellbeing coaching, programs, presentation and outreach. Laura oversees our peer health educators and interns. She has competed and placed top five in five NPC fitness competitions, met her spouse while they both attended EWU, mother to three, loves photography, baking, staying active and thinks peanut butter is the greatest thing ever.

Tricia Hughes
Senior Director
thughes11@ewu.edu

Tricia's path to her dream job at EWU began with stints in public health and K-12 education. Through these experiences, she designed health communication strategies, implemented evidence-based prevention and environmental programs, facilitated community processes and collaborations, provided professional development, and worked to radiate possibility and positivity. She will try most things once, which places her in fun experiences such as dance-offs and dunk tanks and highlights her sense of humor. She is a self-proclaimed coffee-aholic and dark chocolate connoisseur, who is passionate about physical activity and can be found outside with her family bike riding, skiing, hiking, golfing, or paddling.

Rán Henry, Psy.D. 

Licensed Psychologist, Coordinator of Biofeedback Services

Rán was born and raised in Iceland, with a part time stint in Scotland. She came to the US as an international student and completed her graduate studies in counseling psychology from the University of Northern Colorado in 2008. She has been a full-time clinician with Eastern since 2013. Rán's clinical interests include anxiety, grief and loss, trauma, biofeedback and mindfulness. She draws from humanistic, solution-focused, mindfulness and acceptance based approaches to the therapeutic process.
She feels deeply honored to journey along-side students, as they navigate life's many challenges, and is committed to showing-up for and empowering her fellow humans, while staying curious and humble in the process.
Rán loves hanging out with her family (which includes, her husband, two sons, daughter, and Golden Retriever, Charlie), traveling and being in the outdoors, whether that's finding new trails to explore, paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming in random lakes, gardening, or just watching the clouds float by. She aspires to pick up her passion for the arts again, some day.

Robert Henry, D.O.
Consulting Psychiatrist

Dr. Henry has been with the Counseling Center for the past 13 years. He starting working in the Spokane area after graduating from the University of Washington residency program in psychiatry.

Dr. Henry really enjoys working with the student population. In his free time, he enjoys the outdoors and sailing.

Marissa Jenks-Barajas, M.S.W.            Psychological Counselor 

 Marissa received her Master of Social Work from thee Advanced Standing Master of Social Work Program at Eastern Washington University in June of 2021. Marissa utilizes a strength-based, person centered, and person-in-environment theoretical framework. Her clinical interests include trauma, self-esteem/self-worth, self-understanding, and emotion regulation. She believes that the way we think and feel is not only influenced by our own personal values and strengths, but also by the people within our environment. In Marissa’s free time you can find her spending time with her partner & friends, playing with her dogs, or working on a crafting project.

Michael  McClung, M.S.
Psychological Counselor,            Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Michael joined the EWU Counseling and Wellness team in 2022. He began his career in the helping professions working in the substance use treatment field in 2011. He went on to earn his master’s degree in applied psychology from EWU in 2015 and then worked as a counselor in community health. In therapy, Michael works from person-centered and existential approaches – meeting clients where they are at and helping them find their own adaptive and meaningful strategies to take on the challenges of life. He is also both personally and professionally interested in wellness and positive psychology. Michael enjoys spending time with his family, listening to music, playing guitar and drums, cooking, reading, playing pickleball, and getting outside as much as possible.


Michael Ochi, Psy.D.
Psychological Counselor

Michael has his Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology and has worked at EWU since 2018. He focuses on individual and systemic factors to collaboratively help clients understand what's currently impacting their lives and learn ways to create meaningful change. Some activities that Michael enjoys, during is free time, include bonsai and gardening, being outdoors, playing games, and spending time with his family.


Lisa Olson, M.S.
Clinical Supervisor,                          Licensed Mental Health Counselor (she/her/hers)

Lisa has a long history at EWU having received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Eastern in Applied Psychology. She has worked in the counseling center since 2005 and assumed a variety of roles. Over the course of her tenure, she worked to promote bystander intervention for power based personal violence and served as the center's Outreach Coordinator for several years. She later transitioned to the role of Training Coordinator for master's level interns and now serves as the Clinical Supervisor of counseling services and staff. Lisa very much enjoys working with students in creative studies or pursuits. When not working, she is often listening to music (on vinyl if possible), attending live performances, and singing for enjoyment. Lisa appreciates the opportunity to support students to increase self-understanding and to find unique and meaningful ways to express themselves.

Melinda Ovnicek, M.S.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Groups Coordinator

Melinda graduated from Eastern Washington University with her Masters in Clinical Psychology. Melinda returned to Eastern Washington Universities Counseling & Psychological Services in the fall of 2007 as a full-time counselor.
Melinda's areas of specialty include treating attachment disorders, trauma focused therapy, and parent education. In addition, Melinda enjoys providing consultation and supervision for therapists who want to grow similar areas of specialty. In her free time Melinda enjoys being outdoors. Some of the activities her and her family enjoy include backpacking, hiking, surfing, skiing, gardening and mountain bike riding.

Myranda Schee                                              Client Services Representative (They/Them)

Myranda returned to Eastern with Counseling and Wellness Services in January 2022 after graduating from Eastern in 2020 with their Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Before returning to Eastern, they spent time working with individuals experiencing homelessness as a shelter support staff in downtown Spokane. While a student at Eastern, they helped facilitate the creation of the Gender-Inclusive Floor located within the residence halls, and was graced with the opportunity to serve as the first Community Advisor for this floor.

Myranda’s passions include mental health advocacy, LGBTQ+ activism, working with individuals experiencing homlessness, and helping students in the continuation of their higher education.

When not working, Myranda enjoys spending time with their fiancée, scolding their roommate’s cat, creating art in some capacity (ceramics, painting, ect.), collecting funky socks, and playing on their Nintendo Switch.

Erika Wiggins-Tate, M.A.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Coordinator of Case Management

Erika has worked at EWU since January, 2018, uses she/her/hers pronouns and is a former Eagle herself! Her favorite part about being a counselor at Eastern is when a student leaves a counseling session feeling seen and understood.
Erika loves spending time with her wife and kids, traveling in their RV as a family, listening to music or audio books, watching football and going on an occasional run so that she can eat more of her favorite foods like tacos, pho, and Qdoba queso. She hopes to have the ability to visit her bucketlist destinations in Paris, New Zealand, and Rio de Janeiro, and aspires one day to be an author.

Counseling & Wellness Student Staff

Our student staff consist of the following positions: interns, work study awarded, employment, and volunteers. Meet our current student staff

Trystan Sampilo
Graduate Student Counseling Intern

Trystan just recently joined the Counseling and Wellness team in 2023 as a counseling graduate student intern. He originally graduated from EWU in 2020 with his BA in psychology. He went on to earn his master’s degree in clinical psychology from California Lutheran University. Now, Trystan is pursuing his master’s degree in counseling from EWU, hoping to become a licensed mental health counselor upon graduation. Trystan utilizes elements from various different orientations and modalities in order to inform his practice. These include Acceptance and Commitment therapy, existentialism, narrative therapy, and solution focused brief therapy. In his free time, Trystan enjoys playing volleyball, tennis, ping-pong, going to the gym, laughing with friends, playing board games, reading, and continually working towards self-improvement.

 

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