June 23, 2024

Tev Zukor: Let’s Talk it Out

Two items in Tev Zukor’s office encapsulate the Talley Center director’s quirky personality: a stuffed gorilla sporting a Safe Zone shirt and a Harry Potter wand on proud display.

Talley Center Director Tev Zukor

Talley Center Director Tev Zukor. Photo by Alex Sakes.

Zukor is always ready to give coworkers and clients a much-needed laugh. But when it comes to helping students, Zukor’s passion is serious.

He was in college when he lost his sister to suicide. That event was as traumatic and devastating as it was life-changing. Zukor knew then he wanted to devote his life to mental health.

As a staff psychologist at Virginia Tech during the 2007 shooting, Zukor understands the impact tragedies can have on university communities. Since coming to UMW four and a half years ago, Zukor has helped students navigate the hard times.

They often request “the guy with the stuffed monkey,” knowing that a friendly, always-cheerful Zukor is on the other side of the door.

Q: What brought you to UMW?
A: I’ve worked in collegiate mental health my entire life. UMW is the kind of place where colleagues get to know each other and appreciate each other. We work with students who are extremely invested and passionate. They want to make change.

Q: How do students benefit from your department?
A: When people are struggling with issues of adjustment, figuring out how to navigate college or how to fit in, we serve them. But we also see the other side of it. We see students at the height of crises in life.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?
A: Seeing change. Students with bipolar disorder or autism were dissuaded from attending college 15 years ago. Now, with the advancement of mental health and counseling services, these students can not only be successful, they can thrive.

Q: Have you seen any other changes?
A: There’s an upwards of 15 to 20 percent increase in demand for services at the Talley Center each year.

Q: What would you tell a student who is conflicted about reaching out?
A: All of our services are completely confidential. It is difficult to talk about challenges and struggles. But they can always come in and talk and know their information will not be shared.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do outside of the office?
A: I love baseball. I love getting out to ballgames. As a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, I learned to be the eternal optimist. The happiest day of my entire life was when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016 for the first time in more than 100 years.

Q: Do you have any personal mantras you tell yourself every day?
A: Come in, do the best you can and the rest will work itself out.