Gerard Xavier – Employee Profile

Gerard Xavier

For the past 23 years Gerard Xavier has been a mainstay in Madison College’s counseling department, both counseling and teaching students.

In that time, he has impacted the lives of countless students.

We sat down with Gerard as he was planning for retirement to talk about his experiences at the college.

Talk a bit about the counseling you provide students and how it’s changed during your time at Madison College.

Right now, we’re almost 100 percent focused on mental health counseling. About one-third of our students are experiencing anxiety and/or depression, which mirrors the national statistics. We help with coping mechanisms, self-care, conflict management and providing tools to help these students advocate for themselves.

Periodically, we find ourselves working with students in crisis. This could be suicidal ideation, self-harm or harm to others. We assess risk and help connect them to resources or even medical intervention when needed.

The volume of students we’re working with has definitely gone up tremendously in recent years.

With the increase in demand for these supports, what kinds of resources are you able to provide?

In addition to our in-house counselors, we were able to use Covid funds to contract with three agencies in the area to provide mental health services. More recently, we added BetterMynd, an online counseling platform, for students to access. Madison College students also have access to Headspace, a mental health app.

While the need has definitely increased, one encouraging thing I’ve noticed is that there are fewer uninsured students than there were previously. This has been a positive development due in part to the Affordable Care Act and Badger Care.

As a counselor, I also help students with academic success. We work to identify the barriers a student is having in class – or classes – and work through them. Sometimes it’s an undiagnosed learning disability or just a gap in skills. We can then connect them to resources within the college to provide academic supports.

I’ve also taught College Success and study skills classes to instill and adopt new learning strategies.

Gerard Xavier photo

What do you hope your legacy will be here at Madison College?

I hope that my legacy is having helped and supported many students along the way. In their journey, students would create better futures for themselves and serve as inspiration to others to do the same.

I recently heard from a former student who just finished their baccalaureate degree in nursing. The student was reaching out to tell me that I was a big part of getting them through college. Another student who had a lot of personal and mental stressors while at school is now on a solid footing, living and working in the community and raising a family. I hope that these stories and stories like them are part of my legacy.

Internally, I hope that I’ve left a legacy of being a good resource for colleagues collegewide. We’ve strived hard between counseling, the Dean of Students and disability resources to collaborate to support our students. I hope that collaborative spirit is also a part of my legacy.

Gerard Xavier and retirement party sign

What does retirement look like for you?

I have deliberately not made many plans.

I am a real-estate entrepreneur, so I’ll keep busy with that. But my goal is to have more flexibility with my time. Flexibility to travel to visit friends and family.

The one big commitment that I’ve made to myself is to exercise more, but aside from that I’m just looking forward to the flexibility.

No doubt, Gerard will be missed by colleagues and students alike, but he can retire knowing that he’s had a profound impact on many lives. When we asked Gerard about whether he’ll continue counseling in some form, he told us, “never say never.”