Ten questions with Duane Khan, M.S.

Ten questions with Duane Khan, M.S.

  1. What was your first job?

I had two first jobs. When I was a teenager I stocked shelves for a grocery store in Guyana over the summer. Then the following summer I went back and worked for a copy company. Back then people didn’t have printers so you’d go to a copy shop.

2. What did you do before coming to New College?

Many things. That’s not a simple question.

I’ll say this, I struggled for a long time avoiding psychology. So when I was an undergrad I had all of these different majors. I’m not sure how many I went through. And even once I had come to psychology, I had all these different jobs – still avoiding psychology – like studio photographer. I worked in retail for a really long time, I worked in shipping for a really long time. Then finally I came back to know that psych is really what I wanted to do. Then I went into my Master’s program and focused on substance abuse and domestic violence and anger management, then when I went to my doctoral program, I said I want to do something broader because of what I saw in my clients. My clients were never the issue, the system was always the issue, so I wanted to look at trauma and multicultural pieces and see how those intersected with the system.

3. You’ve been at New College for almost two years. What surprised you about the community?

Everything surprised me. How engaged and absolutely on top of everything people are., t The culture at New College is a lot more like the culture of the Northeast than a Florida culture. People read.

4. You recently participated in the Day of Dialogue. What is your reaction to that event and what ramifications do you think it will have on the student body?

Can I give you a long answer? My doctoral program is a program in counseling psychology and we have struggled with multicultural issues, competence, awareness. And we had the American Psychological Association come to our program to renew the accreditation and a lot of the students were complaining about the problems they saw with regard to race, ethnicity, diversity, gender, sexuality, those pieces. The committee came back to us and they said, “We see that you guys are really struggling with this. That is an indicator that you are really really progressing further than most other places around the country.” To be able to have the dialogue, to be able to struggle with this, is a privilege. And so I see our Day of Dialogue in that way. Lots of people are committed, people are looking for ways to raise their awareness and make the community more whole. They just don’t know how. It’s a really confronting, indicting conversation to have. I think the Day of Dialogue was a good starting place. I think we skirted some issues that marginalized students would have liked us to get to. At the same time I think that it’s a continuation of something that people are already exhausted with, but it’s a healthy continuation and a privileged discussion to have.

5. How do you think New College can improve peer dialogue?

In two ways. One is to challenge the culture of critiue when it comes to interpersonal dynamics. This is a very intellectually engaged community, which involves thinking critically. But that’s not the best way to approach interpersonal relationships. The second way is to think about ownership. Too often marginalized students, faculty and staff are relegated to have ownership of this conversation. And so for everybody to find a way to take ownership of the conversation, I think would be really helpful.

6. What is your advice for students dealing with the stress of finals?

To remember that there have been so many challenges before and that they have gotten through them. And to be grounded in that place of accomplishment that they’ve already had. They absolutely can do them.

7. What would you say to someone who is considering coming to the CWC for counseling?

[I would say] that they should honor their doubts and ask questions to people. That we really have a commitment to serving everybody. And that there’s a process people have to go through. When people come to finally see me, I know that they have tried a hundred other things and so working through those doubts is a good thing. If you jump that and just come in, then it may not stick. The other piece is that everybody’s welcome and we do our best to honor and serve whoever needs help on this campus because that’s our job.

8. What do you like most about your job?

The privilege to have the deepest and most meaningful conversations with people.

9. What is your favorite New College moment?

I can’t pick one moment. So many opportunities where people have said to me “I really appreciate what you do for the community.” Each time I get that kind of communication and it feels authentic, it feels like home. It’s all worth it.

10. What are your hobbies?

I am a U.S. Masters swimmer, although I’ve been able to engage with that a little less. And less frequently I get to engage with my guitar and my snowboard. I am a foodie. I love food, especially from around the world. Anything I haven’t tried, I want to try. [My favorite food is] probably food from my home country, West Indian, Guyanese food. There’s a dish called pumpkin and roti.

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