Columbia College


Columbia College prepares every student personally and professionally for success through strong liberal arts and professional programs emphasizing service, social justice, and leadership development.

Columbia College is noted for faculty who foster academic excellence through collaborative teaching and learning; a vital learning community in which character, ethics, and values are cultivated; the study of leadership enhanced by opportunities for practical application; programs that capitalize on advances in technology; and learning environments that extend beyond the classroom.


Non Quem, Sed Quid

Not who, but what: your values, talents, priorities and commitments. Individuals, organizations, and institutions must identify how to make a difference, provide programs or services that improve the human condition, and focus energies, resources and expertise on ensuring social justice for all.



Institute for Building Resilience through Trauma-Informed Practices (BRTIP)

Mental health and trauma are under-treated, under-diagnosed, and over-represented in vulnerable populations of all kinds: The LGBTQAI community, persons of color, women all carry an extra heavy burden of risk and occurrence of both mental health conditions and trauma. And of course, they are intertwined.

These are the issues Columbia College is prepared to address with our Institute for Building Resilience through Trauma-Informed Practices (BRTIP) as our unique contribution to advancing social justice. BRTIP will be a resource and advocate for the impact of trauma-informed practices to systemic racism, proactive and humane law enforcement, economic equity, criminal justice, educational opportunity, and the affirmation of human dignity and mutual respect.

Visit the Institute for Building Resilience through Trauma-Informed Practices (BRTIP)

Center for Leadership & Social Change

The Center for Leadership & Social Change’s mission is to cultivate courageous leaders, one voice at a time. We provide students with leadership opportunities on and off campus that allow them to explore their passions, hone their strengths, and develop their leadership potential.

We encourage engagement in social issues because we define leadership as the choice to exercise the power of education in a way that both fulfills social responsibilities and embraces opportunities to create positive change in ourselves and in the world around us.

Learn more about the Center for Leadership & Social Change.


Degree may be completed within one year. 100% online classes can be accessed anywhere, anytime.

The Master of Education in Trauma-Informed Education will provide candidates with an understanding of how childhood trauma, mental health, and poverty impact students’ ability to learn. Candidates will also be equipped to establish trauma-sensitive practices in their classrooms to promote changes both school-wide and district-wide.

The MEd blends education and the helping professions to prepare educators, school counselors, administrators, and daycare workers for the diverse needs of students:

  • Learn about childhood trauma and how it can impact brain development, learning, and behavior regulation.
  • Learn about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, and the implications for learning and long-term effects on America’s students.
  • Learn about attachment and psychological disorders in children and adolescents and their impact in classroom settings.
  • Learn about the effects poverty may have on learning and how educators can create safe and supportive environments.

Learn more about the MEd in Trauma-Informed Education.


Jenny Johansson


A graduate of the special education program at Columbia College, Ms. Johansson assists in the management of activities related to student progress through the teacher education programs.

Shirley Huisman

Shirley Huisman

Program director | Bachelor of social work

Chair | Associate Professor of Social Work

B.A., Dordt College
M.S.W., Syracuse University
Ph.D., University of South Carolina

Dr. Shirley Huisman joined the Columbia College faculty in 2014 and is the bachelor’s in social work Program Director.  She graduated with her undergraduate degree from Dordt College and earned her MSW from Syracuse University.  She began her career in community mental health, and soon intertwined her mental health practice with teaching in higher education. 

Dr. Huisman works from a trauma-informed perspective in both her professional practice and in higher education, where she teaches, writes curriculum, and manages the BSW program.  She brings her students and the community together in her classes, and has partnered with organizations such as Everyblackgirl, Black Lives Matter, Sowing Seeds Into The Midlands, College Place United Methodist Church, and the Eau Clair Community Council.  She has been instrumental in the inception and development of Columbia College’s Master’s degree in Trauma Informed Education, where she teaches on mental health in children, adolescents, and teens.

Jennifer Dollar

Lecturer of Social Work | Coordinator of Field Experience

B.S., Carson Newman College
M.S.W., University of South Carolina

Jennifer Dollar joined the Columbia College Social Work faculty in 2016.  She was hired as the Director of Field Education, and since that time has brought her genuine gifts and extensive skills and knowledge as a school social worker to Columbia College, her colleagues, and her students. Prior to her joining the faculty at Columbia College she worked in medical social work for eight and a half years, and as a school social worker for sixteen years where she was highly recognized and remains highly missed for her professional and personal dedication to social justice work on behalf of her students and their families. She brings that same passion and dedication to her position at CC, empowering and inspiring her colleagues and her students.

Amanda Stefanski

Amanda Stefanski

Assistant Professor of Special Education

B.A., Queens University of Charlotte
M.S., University of Miami
Ph.D., University of Maryland

Dr. Amanda Stefanski is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Columbia College. In addition to the courses she teaches within the special education course of study, Dr. Stefanski teaches the introductory course for the division of education, Introduction to the Profession of Teaching, along with its accompanying Praxis Core Reading Lab. She has also led workshops and taught courses designed for cohorts moving through the Alternative Pathways for Educator Certification (APEC) program as well as courses for the first-year experience at CC (LA 100).

Dr. Stefanski’s research interests are primarily grounded in work that has to do with general education teacher’s preparation for and instruction of students with disabilities. Additionally, she has researched and published multiple manuscripts related to full service (and/or community) schools in regards to leadership, family involvement, and a number of other connected topics as part of her involvement with the program evaluation for a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant she has been working on since before she began teaching at Columbia College. 

Tracy West

Dr. Tracy West

Dean | Program Chair

Professor of Special Education, Division Dean

Dr. Tracy West has been a member of the Columbia College community since 2000 and currently serves as the Dean of the Division of Education. After graduating with a BS in Special Education from East Carolina University, she began her career as a special education teacher in the public schools of North Carolina. She then moved to South Carolina to complete her PhD in Special Education Research.

Dr. Karen Thompson

Dr. Karen Thompson

Dean | Program Chair

Professor of Psychology

Dr. Thompson is a Professor of Psychology and the Dean of the Division of Social Sciences. Dr. Thompson earned a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Biology from Bowling Green State University (Ohio) and an M.A. and Ph.D. in experimental psychology with an emphasis in behavioral neuroscience from the University of South Carolina. Dr. Thompson has been a Columbia College faculty member since 2000.

Dr. Tamara Burk

Dr. Tamara L. Burk

Director of the Center for Leadership & Social Change and the PLACE Fellows Program | Chair of Leadership Studies

Professor of Communication

Ph.D. and Ed.S., The College of William and Mary
M.A. and B.A., University of Maine

Dr. Tamara Burk came to Columbia College in 2003 as the John Reeves Endowed Chair of Leadership. Since then, she has served in various capacities around campus, leading the former Center for Engaged Learning, establishing the Sisters of Charity Foundation of SC grant-funded PLACE Fellowship Program and developing an interdisciplinary leadership studies minor and certificate. Most recently, Dr. Burk built the Center for Leadership & Social Change that now houses academic and co-curricular leadership development, service and social justice programs for students. She also works closely with local community partners, such as Resilient Richland, the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network, the Mayor’s COVID-19 Disparity Taskforce and the College Food Insecurity Subcommittee, to live out the missions of Columbia College and the Sisters of Charity Foundation of SC.

Lauren Fleming

Lauren Fleming

Program Manager of the Center for Leadership & Social Change and the PLACE Fellows

B.A. and M.A., Columbia College

Lauren Fleming is a two-time alumna of Columbia College and began her professional career at her alma mater in 2018. In her role as program manager, she helps create and execute leadership opportunities for students to engage with the community, on and off campus. In addition to managing the Center and the PLACE Fellows Program, Lauren advises CC’s student chapter of Amnesty International, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for human rights. In the community, Lauren serves on the Board of Directors for Columbia Opportunity Resource (COR) as the vice-chair of the volunteer action team and a member of the diversity, equity and inclusion action team. She is also on the Core Team for Resilient Richland and the Steering Committees for the Mayor’s COVID-19 Disparity Taskforce and the College Food Insecurity Subcommittee.