Cameron Kantner

A roundabout path to Bloomington

Cameron attended Carmel High School north of Indianapolis. He went to a small college in Tennessee on a swimming scholarship, but the change was too drastic. The whole college was smaller than his high school graduating class.

So he transferred to IU Bloomington. He liked the size, tradition, and spirited community here. An advisor helped him choose a major in sociology, and a course in sexual diversity led him to declare a second major in gender studies. For his senior thesis, he and a partner analyzed how students used bathroom-stall graffiti to have conversations about sexual assault.

As a senior, he decided to go to graduate school. He had learned that he liked working with people, and he was drawn to counseling. His love of IU made staying a natural choice.

Putting skills into practice

Cameron wanted to explore several kinds of counseling, so he’s gotten a range of experience. He’s a career peer at the Career Development Center, where he helps students do everything from choose a major to prepare for interviews. He also works part time at a residential facility for people with schizophrenia, helping them prepare to live on their own again.

His best experience at IU has been as a counseling intern for GLBT Student Support Services. He talks to his clients about all kinds of topics, including anxiety, the coming-out process, and gender transition. And he co-leads a support group for gay men.

“I’m giving a voice to someone,” Cameron says. “I’m helping them know that what they have to say matters.”

Growing into a counselor

Cameron was nervous when he started at the GLBT office. “I had a lot of self-doubt,” he says. “Overcoming that was a big challenge.”

But he did it, thanks to advice from his supervisor and a lot of initiative.

When one of his clients, a Chinese woman, mentioned that she had gotten her immigration papers, Cameron congratulated her. But between sessions, he realized that he had downplayed her accomplishment. He researched the papers, which enabled her to work legally in the United States and to enroll at IU. At their next session, he asked her about the papers and learned why they meant so much to her: after she came out as gay to her mother, her mother didn’t want her at home, and now she’s able to provide for herself.

Cameron calls it “one of those groundbreaking moments I’ve had as a counselor.”

After he earns his master’s degree, he plans to move to Denver. He’ll work for a counseling organization to get the thousands of hours of experience he needs in order to earn his license. He hopes eventually to go into private practice working with LGBT couples.

Listening is working well for him.

See how IU prepares graduates for success