Counseling & Student Development Center

Kishwaukee College Counselors are professional faculty members here to help you gain the most from your college experience. Counseling services are available for educational planning, career exploration, and resolving personal issues.

The counseling staff is here to help you achieve your educational, career and personal goals through individual appointments, interest and career assessments, orientation and career planning classes and student development activities.

The Transfer Center is located in the Counseling and Student Development Center. The Center houses information and resource materials for four-year colleges and universities and has staff available to meet with students concerning questions on transferring and course articulation.

Services Available


To make an appointment with a counselor call 815-825-2086, ext. 5070 or TTY 815-825-2457.


Monday - Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Counseling Center Staff

Cassandra Downs, MACassandra Downs, M.A.

Cassandra has a Master of Arts in Psychology from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. A native of California, Cassandra completed two bachelor degrees, one in communications from the University of Southern California and another in psychology from California State University Northridge. She has also provided personal and career counseling, taught a number of psychology related courses, and facilitated workshops for students on topics to increase students' developmental and academic success.

Carla Johnson, M.A.Carla Johnson, M.A.

Coordinator of Counseling

I am very happy to be part of the Counseling & Student Development team at Kishwaukee College.  I enjoy working with students to help them get acclimated to college life.  In my role as a counselor, I have the opportunity to guide students to realize their potential, set goals and make decisions related to their academic, personal and career endeavors.  In addition to career counseling on an individual basis, each semester I teach career planning classes to help students discover or verify their major, and to develop a career plan for the future.  I am also fluent in American Sign Language and serve as the counselor-liaison to the Assistive Resource Center.  I help students with disabilities work through the process of academic planning and class accommodations.  I consider myself a supportive mentor to all students participating in the learning experiences here at Kish; and I believe it is important to encourage students to make responsible choices and be accountable for their actions. 

Carla holds a Master of Arts degree in Counseling and a Bachelor of Science degree in Deafness Rehabilitation from Northern Illinois University.  She has worked as a counselor and classroom instructor in the community college setting for over 20 years in addition to teaching sign language classes at NIU for several years.

Carolyn Kernan, MSW, LCSW

Carolyn Kernan, MSW, LCSW

Carolyn has been a college counselor for the past 13 years working with first generation, low income, and students with disabilities to achieve their educational, personal, and career goals. Carolyn has several years of experience as a psychotherapist dealing with mental health issues. She has taught a variety of sociology classes for 10 years and is currently teaching Career Planning at Kishwaukee. Carolyn enjoys meeting Kishwaukee students so that their educational experience can be a positive and successful one.

Carolyn has a bachelor degree from the University of South Carolina and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Carolyn Kernan, MSW, LCSWSarah Marsden, M.A., LCPC

After graduating from Kishwaukee College, Sarah earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Northern Illinois University, then her Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Argosy University. She is trained as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor.

She enjoys meeting with students in each stage of their college experience, from before they fill out their enrollment form, helping them choose appropriate courses, teaching in the classroom, to watching them walk across the graduation stage!

Sarah is passionate about helping students who may be struggling with anxiety other mental health issues. She looks forward to working with students to make sure that mental health concerns will not be a barrier to their education.

Carolyn Kernan, MSW, LCSWJoy Mitchell, M.S., Ed.

Originally from the south side of Chicago, IL, Joy Mitchell earned her Bachelors of Science in Sociology from Northern Illinois University. After a few years in the workforce, Joy decided to attend graduate school where she completed her Masters of Science in Counseling from Northern Illinois University.

She has a passion for education and a strong desire to help students succeed socially, emotionally, and academically. It is her goal to positively impact every student she comes across in some way.

Joy hopes to be a model example and advocate for students. She aims to help them reach their full potential and accomplish their academic goals and future endeavors.









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