When he first moved to Klamath Falls in 2017, Oregon Tech professor, Dr. Kevin Garrett, knew he wanted to “leave a positive footprint” on the community. As a faculty member in the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) graduate program, Dr. Garrett emphasizes to his students the importance of being a consistent and authentic helper in providing services to individuals, couples, families and communities. His personal philosophy is no different. As he explains it, “I am passionate about the intersection of teaching and marriage and family therapy. It is rewarding to see students learn MFT concepts, theories, and for these to resonate with them. They then become passionate about MFT like me. I also enjoy and am rejuvenated by supervising future mental health clinicians and helping others.”
Creating connections between Klamath Falls and Oregon Tech is important for Dr. Garrett as he works to demystify professors and the work they do. “We are here to make a difference with our students, to prepare them for ethical work in their discipline, and to contribute to the ortgeist [‘spirit of a place’] of Klamath Falls,” says Dr. Garrett. Currently, Dr. Garrett is president of the Pelican Education Foundation, helping provide scholarships to graduates of Klamath Union High School and grants to teachers for innovative classroom ideas. He has been fortunate to serve as a former board member for Friends of the Children and is an active member of his faith community. He also has given multiple presentations and trainings to local organizations within the Klamath Basin.
When Dr. Garrett was hired as an assistant professor at Oregon Tech, he was on the team that began the MFT program and helped make it into the outstanding program it is today. With the help of the former director, Dr. Kathleen Adams, and current director, Dr. Chelsey Torgerson, the team knew that they wanted to stress the importance of working with community partners. “Our program offers many opportunities to work with others in the community who love Klamath Falls as much as I do and want to see our town flourish,” he shares.
One of Dr. Garrett’s favorite projects is serving as a committee member on the Klamath County Symposium & Child Abuse Prevention Coalition Planning Committee, which helps community partners to feel more hopeful in making a difference in their respective roles bettering the lives of children. The Symposium is a five-year work-in-progress formed out of the Child Abuse Prevention Coalition Month. For the past three years, organizers have held a two-day conference at Oregon Tech for community partners to learn from local experts about the work in the various realms of child abuse prevention in Klamath County. This year (summer 2020) the Symposium decided to have a virtual community discussion on how we reacted to COVID-19. The core organizers of the Symposium are staff from CARES, DHS and Oregon Tech. Numerous other organizations join in the Symposium every year to present on their agency and the content of services they provide.
As Dr. Garrett continues to seek ways to give back to Klamath Falls in his professional and personal life, he celebrates 20 years of marriage with his wife, Melissa, who also works in Klamath Falls and volunteers in the community. In addition to providing nutritional coaching at a local wellness agency and teaching fitness classes at several locations in Klamath Falls, Melissa volunteers at the Garrett children’s schools. With five children in three different schools, the family keeps plenty busy with two boys in Klamath Union High School, one girl at Ponderosa Middle School and two boys at Pelican Elementary School.
Originally from the Salem area, Dr. Garrett was excited to rejoin Oregon after teaching in southwestern Oklahoma at Cameron University and previously completing his Ph.D. in Human Ecology with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy at Kansas State University and a doctoral internship at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He is excited to once again be back in his home state and to enjoy all the beauty that Oregon offers.To learn more about Dr. Garrett’s work and hear from students of the MFT program, attend the next MFT open house by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.