NC State’s sense of community drew Meri Wickenhofer to the College of Veterinary Medicine. Not only was it a welcoming place, it was a place pushing innovation and encouraging support for all faculty and staff. The beautiful campus also helped.
As a counseling services associate in the veterinary hospital, she hopes to extend that sense of community to clients who may need a little extra support.
What made you want to work in veterinary medicine?
Dogs. This unique position allows me to combine my love of animals and my love of social work. I have always liked helping people and advocating for those who don’t have a voice. It’s why I got into social work in the first place. I can still advocate for patients without a voice and work with people in a new way.
What will you be doing in your role at the CVM?
I will be providing veterinary hospital clients with family-centered care focused on the human-animal bond, which is so rare and unique. This includes crisis intervention and grief education for clients, offering emotional support and stress relief approaches for hospital faculty, staff and students, and conducting follow-up client support.
I also work closely with clinical counselor Rebecca Maher and support the hospital’s family and community services initiatives.
What are you most excited about in this role?
This is a growing industry at the intersection of social work and veterinary medicine, and I’m honestly excited about all of it.
My door in the Health and Wellness Center, room C205, is always open and I usually have candy on my desk. I hope that people will come by if they want to talk. I’m excited to meet and get to know everyone.
What is your background?
I’m a clinical social worker, provisionally licensed, and have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in social work from East Carolina University. Previously, I’ve worked as an opioid treatment therapist working with individuals presenting with co-occurring disorders. I also trained as an intern at the ECU Pediatrics Specialty Care, specifically with children with chronic illnesses, as well as, assisting at a men’s homeless shelter.
What’s something someone would be surprised to learn about you?
I was born in Okinawa, Japan. I moved to the United States when I was 1 year old. My dad was in the U.S. Air Force and retired after 23 years in the service.
When you’re not on campus, where can we find you?
I love soccer. It’s been a part of my entire life. I played on my high school team, club soccer in college and now I play in an adult league once a week.
I also love to go running on the greenways in Wake Forest with my dog, a black lab and pit mix named Cooper.