Career counselor Bret Burkholder poses with the event poster for Shabby Road.

Career counselor by day, Rockstar by night

Kathryn Scott

Managing Editor

Bret Burkholder recently raised money for Pierce College’s student emergency fund with the help of his Beatles tribute band. Burkholder, a Pierce College faculty counselor and adviser for over 35 years, performed Nov. 23 with his band Shabby Road at the third annual fundraiser for the Pierce College Poverty Committee. All the money raised at the event, Opportunity Rocks, went toward the Student Emergency Fund.

“We have a saying in our band and it’s that we like to use our superpowers for good,” says Burkholder when asked about the mission of Shabby Road.

Burkholder’s been an advocate for student success for decades and loves any opportunity he gets to help the campus, either as a whole or on an individual level with students one-on-one. His first time teaching at Pierce College was for occupational psychology, although he says he was mainly hired for his expertise in career counseling. He says his personal experiences with feeling lost about life after school helped him discover the possibility of making a career out of helping others find their own callings.

“When I really discovered career counseling was when I needed it myself,” says Burkholder.

Burkholder explains he was several months away from completing the credentials that would allow him to teach when he knew he wanted something different. It was when he went to the career counselor on campus at Pacific Lutheran University that he realized there was more than picking and being locked in a degree forever.

With encouragement from those around him, Burkholder realized that things would work out, he just didn’t know how. He explains his career counselor did honest counseling with him, not just an aptitude test and, for the first time in months, Burkholder was feeling hopeful again. He wants those he helps now to understand he’s walked some of the path they’re struggling through and that their confusion and fear is normal.

One of the ways he helps students is by first helping them discover their talents and passions. Some methods he uses when helping students discover themselves are detailed and thorough personality/talent program tools online.

“The tool isn’t making anything up, it’s just like mirrors that are bouncing back images that are already there. But it gives us a way to put it in language. And then from there, that language can be used to help the person investigate what out there in the world of work is matching who they’re learning they are,” says Burkholder.

He says he loves working with students and staff alike and one of his favorite experiences isn’t an experience, rather, an atmosphere. He believes those he works with are a symbolic representation of the strength of Pierce Puyallup and he’s honored to be a part of it.

Shabby Road consists of five members, including Burkholder. Their mission is to help and use their abilities for the benefit of the community. Burkholder says he cherishes the positive and loving atmosphere The Beatles represent as well. Being able to watch different ages dancing to their performance, to him, further reinforces his belief about the impact The Beatles had and continues to have on any generation. Burkholder explains that Shabby Road doesn’t do covers of The Beatles.

They try to replicate and mimic The Beatles and their goal is to sound as authentic as possible. Opportunity Rocks is an event that’s about supporting the student emergency fund. This fund is the safety net of Pierce and offers extra support to students when needed. Burkholder explains that Bill Orrange, a math professor from Fort Steilacoom, was inspired to organize a fundraiser after attending an in-studio concert of Shabby Road. Three years later and the annual fundraiser organizers have no plans of stopping.

Shabby Road has been a band for about seven years and performs for a variety of groups and private events. The name Shabby Road is a spoof of The Beatles’ Abbey Road album. The idea came one night after practice when the band was joking about being ‘old rockers’ and the comment was made that they were good, just a little shabby for the wear. Burkholder thanks the folks behind-the-scenes that made this family-friendly event happen.

“It’s a fun evening and we always have a great time. It’s Pierce College, the center of it are Pierce people.”

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Kathryn Scott

Career counselor by day, Rockstar by night

by Kathryn Scott time to read: 3 min
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