April 26, 2010
10-080

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

Prevention is her Passion: Leah McMillan

VALDOSTA -- For Leah McMillan, her job as a Valdosta State University counselor is more of a calling than a 9-5 obligation.

Since 2005, she has facilitated sexual assault and domestic violence awareness activities on campus, and conducted seminars about a range of issues, from body image and healthy relationships to dating violence and hazing. Her passion as a student affairs professional is prevention; her goal as a counselor is to help people find themselves.

“Maya Angelou said it best about why I chose to begin my career in the counseling profession, ‘I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ This statement symbolizes why I do what I do,” said McMillan, who is the community’s Sexual Assault Response Team Liaison for VSU. “I am privileged to assist individuals dealing with multiple and contextual issues in becoming the person they each want to become. It never ceases to amaze me the strength, power and knowledge human beings possess.”

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April, McMillan coordinated a series of events to raise awareness among the vulnerable student population. The campus joined together to engage in self-defense classes, a Greek step show fundraiser and the Denim Day Project. The “Rock to Prevent Rape” concert, held in conjunction with Take Back the Night, theme “Make Music not Violence,” was held in the new Student Union.

“Sexual Assault can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, race, age, socioeconomic status, time of day or location. Rape is not about sex, but about power and control, and can be committed by those who we trust and feel the safest with,” said McMillan, who specializes in abuse, pre-marital and family counseling. “To stop sexual violence, we must become part of the solution, not the problem. Together as a scholastic community, we can strike out sexual assault on our Campus and across the world.”

As if the mother of two isn’t busy enough as a full-time licensed marriage and family counselor, the VSU graduate is working toward a Doctor of Public Administration with an emphasis in Higher Education. She hopes to graduate with her third degree from VSU in May 2011. During her time in graduate study, McMillan has also managed to develop the Silent Witness Project for Lowndes County and bring many of its domestic violence education programming to VSU. She also created the counseling center's Anonymous Data Form to track sexual assaults affiliated with VSU in order to remain in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Act.

“I feel extremely blessed that I am able to fulfill my purpose in life daily,” said McMillan, who also started the Holiday Helper Program at VSU, which encourages the VSU community to donate gifts to needy children. “It is my desire and goal to continue advancing my education, honing my communication skills, and enhancing my professional and personal experiences in order to continue to grow in my leadership at VSU.”

What keeps her grounded?

“I have been married for more than 11 years to my wonderful and supportive husband and best friend. I have two beautiful and intelligent children, Hunter, 11, and London, 3. I am very blessed to have multiple family members, friends, and colleagues who provide support, encouragement, honesty, and trust. I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, traveling, reading and gardening.”


This article is part of a series of Faculty/Staff Spotlights to showcase the endeavors and achievements of VSU employees. Know someone who should be featured? E-mail the Communications Unit at news@valdosta.edu .