“Because of the amazing educational experience and support I received as an undergraduate, there was no question I would return to Adelphi to complete my master’s degree.”
Member of Adelphi University’s 10 Under 10
House Manager, Ronald McDonald House of Long Island
Co-Founder, The Makeshift Movement
Before returning to Adelphi for her master’s degree in social work, Eriksen was an undergraduate psychology major and active member of the University’s Peer Counseling Center. Her mentor, Stacey Bellum, helped lead the Center and taught Eriksen’s peer counseling class. “We were all inspired by her desire to help others,” said Eriksen. “She helped me realize that a career in social work would be the best route for me and would allow me to explore the full spectrum of human services.”
Eriksen was intensively trained to help her peers with issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, and adjustment to college and relationships. “As a junior supervisor, I would assist in supervising nightly shifts for our program’s telephone crisis center,” she said. “It was here that I was able to exercise counseling skills for the very first time.”
Eriksen has dedicated her career to helping others. Today she is the house manager of The Ronald McDonald House of Long Island whose mission is to keep families with sick children close to each other and the care and resources they need.
“The House provides families with a secure, welcoming, and comfortable environment among other families who are sharing a similar burden. We offer resources, meals, transportation, and collect donations from the community that directly serve our residents,” she said. They also schedule daily events and provide ongoing support to lift families’ spirits. “It is a miraculous place whose mission is so dear to my heart,” she said.
In addition to this role, she also serves her community through the grassroots organization The Makeshift Movement, which she co-founded. “Several years ago, our hometown was deeply affected by a string of suicide-related deaths and overdoses,” said Eriksen. She and her (now) team began The Makeshift Movement to create a safe place where their community could talk openly about issues like mental health, suicide, and substance abuse. “Our organization’s mission is to broaden and improve our collection of resources and education-related services surrounding addiction and mental health,” she explained.
Since The Makeshift Movement was established in 2015, it has hosted community forums and resource fairs among other meaningful events such as its 2017 community art project. “Oceanside residents came together at the library to create a mural entitled ‘All Together Now,’” she said. The piece is a commemoration of the lives lost from substance abuse and suicide and serves as a lasting reminder for their community of the organization’s dedication to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health.
Eriksen—who has worked with mental health, homeless, and geriatric populations at several different agencies and organizations through her career—says couldn’t be prouder of the journey that led her to where she is today.
“I chose a career in social work because the people I met at Adelphi and the guidance I received from them made this path a reality,” she said. “For this, I am forever grateful.”
Eriksen is a wife and mother who, in her spare time, is also the lead female vocalist in two contemporary rock cover bands called “Permission to Launch” and “The Polyester Social Club,” both of which she participates with her husband, Mark.
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