Heather Horton, Director of the Wellness Resource Center, talks about how she became an advocate for safe sex, how sexual assault is a problem at CC, the transition into her new position, feminism in Disney movies and the Mayan apocalypse.

Heather Horton

How did you get to CC?


I was actively looking for jobs in 2004 and found the posting for the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator position at CC.  I was incredibly excited because it was such a perfect mix of my interests—direct clinical work, advocacy, and prevention work.  I left my on-campus interview feeling like I was a good fit for the job and that the position and CC was a good fit for me.  I started in March of 2005, and the rest, as they say, is history.


What did you major in?


I majored in psychology in undergrad, and went on to get my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

What did you want to be when you grew up?


As a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher, a doctor and a lawyer.  It wasn’t until I took classes like psychology, sociology and anthropology in college that I realized that psychology was my thing.


How did you become interested in sexual assault response and counseling?


I did research with one of my undergrad professors looking at cross-cultural controls of women’s sexuality.  That … was very intellectually focused archival research, and I realized that I was interested in bringing that lens to bear on things that were happening around me.  One of the things I did at the time was volunteer for my campus’ rape prevention program, which allowed me to explore how the things I was learning in the academic world applied to a real-world issue.  That was my first introduction to primary prevention work, and I loved it.  Also, around that time, and perhaps because I was working for the rape prevention program, I had a number of important people in my life share their own experiences with sexual assault.  Talking with them really gave me a chance to see how people respond to things like trauma.  To this day part of what draws me to the work is the chance to sit with people as they move through a difficult experience and find their own resilience.  It’s really a beautiful and humbling thing.


Do you think sexual assault is an issue on our campus?  How do you think it compares to other campuses in the United States?


Yes, I think sexual assault is an issue on our campus, just as it is on most college campuses.  Based on the data that we have collected in the past, our prevalence rates seem to be pretty consistent with national statistics, which are about 1 in 4 college women during their college years experience attempted or completed sexual assault.  Just like in other places, the vast majority of sexual assaults that take place on our campus are perpetrated by someone known to the victim.


How has your transition into the Director of the Wellness Resource Center gone this year?


It’s been exciting.  The energy and interest around the topic from students, staff and faculty has been amazing, and I’m very excited and optimistic about opportunities on campus for promoting a holistic model of wellness.  So far, the focus for me has been on trying to make connections with the people and programs on campus that are already doing great wellness-related work, as well as on trying to develop programs for the new WRC.


What do you think are the best ways to encourage wellness at CC?


I think one of the keys to encourage wellness is giving people the options and information they need to make informed choices for themselves.  Sometimes that means breaking taboo to open dialogue around a topic or issue; sometimes that means providing information about health benefits and consequences; sometimes that means helping people to see how their choices in one area of their lives are connected to or impacting the other areas of their lives; and sometimes it means teaching people tools that they can use in managing the stresses and demands of their daily lives.


What do you think about the Mayan apocalypse that is supposedly coming up?


I haven’t really thought very much about it.

What is your favorite Disney movie?


Right now, my favorite Disney movie is “Brave.”  I love the characters, the story and the animation.  I also love that the protagonist is a strong, brave female character who is struggling with how to negotiate familial expectations while forging her own identity.


How do you think feminism relates to Disney princess movies?


Wow.  There could be a whole course on this topic.  Perhaps a conversation for another day?


Compiled by News staff


Leave a Reply