Broderick Leaks, clinical psychologist and group therapy coordinator for Student Counseling Services (SCS), makes a point of being accessible to all students on campus.
“We always have a wait list with students anxious to access services, but I still think there are some underserved populations on campus,” Leaks said. “As a staff, we have to balance taking care of the students who are here with reaching out to students who we know could benefit from our services.”
To do this, the SCS staff is building relationships with USC’s cultural offices as well as the Office of International Services.
The next step is letting the broader campus know about the team, said Leaks, one of the senior staff members that include 13 psychologists, four psychiatrists, four social workers, one marriage and family therapist, and three administrative staffers.
Leaks, who started his career at USC as an intern in 2008-09, supervises and mentors two pre-doctoral interns and one practicum student. In addition, he provides individual and group psychotherapy for students and serves as the group coordinator for 10 to 12 groups a semester.
He also teaches a freshman seminar primarily for student athletes called “Foundations of Self,” which focuses on identity development, leadership skills and the impact of culture on identity and self-image.
“One reason why I like the class so much is because it creates a safe zone for students to be themselves. They don’t have to be super tough and macho,” he said. “They can say, ‘Hey, I am actually struggling.’ While they are learning some academic material, they are also learning some life development skills.”
Ilene Rosenstein, director of SCS, who noted that Leaks connects well with students, called him “a rising star.”
“He truly cares about his students and will always go the extra mile to help others. He problem-solves, troubleshoots and is attentive to matters needing attention, helping to make SCS the best that it can be,” she said. “Dr. Leaks is fair, extremely perceptive, professional but fun-loving. He is a true asset to the team.”
Leaks’ interest in helping people dates back to his youth in Houston.
“People always talked to me about stuff. I started working on becoming a therapist, and I looked back and I thought ‘I have been doing this my whole life,’ ” he said. “On the academic end, I was fascinated by psychology and what makes people tick and influences behavior.”
Leaks earned a B.A. in psychology at Baylor University, where he connected with the school’s student affairs division.
“I like this work, and the reason I like it so much is because when I was a student, I had mentors who worked in different student affairs offices,” he said. “I had this mentor in multicultural affairs who became my mom on campus.”
For graduate school, Leaks decided to pursue biblical training along with psychology. That led him to the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., where he earned master’s degrees in theology and psychology and his PhD in clinical psychology. One of his internships placed him at USC, and the rest is history.
“University work is pretty cool. The culture of growth and learning is much different than working in a hospital,” said Leaks, who lives in Pasadena with his wife and young son. “I love coming to work here, and I also feel like I am getting challenged in my profession. So it is a nice blend.”