UWest Student Services is delighted to announce that UWest now has two campus chaplain interns serving our students and community: Riveraine Walters and Jessica Zheng, who are taking part in UWest’s first on-campus Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training, provided by Reverend Jana Milhon-Martin, an Episcopal priest and certified CPE supervisor. This innovative training that, in Rev. Jana’s words, “brings the transformational possibilities of CPE to a wider audience” is the outcome of Rev. Jana’s collaboration with the chair of our Buddhist Chaplaincy Department, Rev. Dr. Jitsujo Gauthier.

Under professional supervision, the campus chaplain interns provide spiritual care activities as well as one-on-one spiritual counseling. They serve students of all backgrounds and faith traditions, including those who don’t identify religiously. According to the ethical requirements of the chaplaincy profession, chaplain interns are confidential care providers. UWest’s campus chaplain interns provide their spiritual care services on a volunteer basis. The university is grateful for the valuable contributions Jessica and Riveraine bring to our community, and Chief Student Services Officer Vanessa Karam looks forward to working with them as they engage with our community, bringing their ideas and developing their professional chaplaincy and ministry skills.

Read on to learn more about our chaplain interns and their plans and availability. Look out for updates about their activities as well.

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Riveraine Walters photoRiveraine Walters is currently a graduate student in the Buddhist Chaplaincy Department. She previously attended five other universities, including as an international student, was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mexico, and spent 18 months in Chile for her PhD dissertation, so she deeply understands various aspects of student life, including being far away from one’s first language and culture. She says, “As a disabled student, and a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I am deeply familiar with the challenges of these marginalized groups and the direct and indirect impacts on schoolwork and overall spiritual wellness.” Related to her ministry studies, Riveraine is currently exploring how the wisdom of spiritual caretaking can provide deeper and more holistic support for climate anxiety and environmental despair. She looks forward to providing spiritual care to the wonderfully diverse student body at UWest as a Chaplaincy Intern.

Riveraine is available to meet in person or via Zoom and will try to accommodate your schedule. Email her at riveraine.walters@myuwest.edu to start the conversation.

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Jieyan Jieyan “Jessica” Zheng is a Doctor of Buddhist Ministry student, with a Master of Divinity degree and fifteen years of experience in the education, technology, and charitable nonprofit sectors. As she says, “I am here to offer my presence, compassion, and energy to our community as needed. I look forward to walking with you on this journey.”

Beginning October 12, Jessica will be offering “Pop-Up Tea” on Tuesdays from 2pm to 4pm on the east lawn of the AD Building. You are invited to stop by, have tea, and unwind. More personal conversations will be available by one-on-one by appointment (contact zongqing9225@gmail.com).