Unapologetically Her Best Self
July 2020 Issue
by Marina Karis
Photos provided by Rachel Goulet
Independent, strong, free- spirited, determined and powerful are the words that come to mind when I think of Rachel Goulet. The 32-year-old Charleston, SC resident embodies everything it means to be unapologetically yourself. Rachel is a mental health counselor at College of Charleston and a Captain in the Army National Guard. Just when you think you know what she’s all about, you find layer upon layer of unique factors that make her who she is.
In 2009, Rachel graduated from the College of Charleston (CofC) with a major in sociology and minor in psychology. “Ever since starting at the College of Charleston, I knew it's where I wanted to end up. This has been my dream job since 2005, when I started there [as a student].” To achieve this dream she knew she needed graduate school. Not wanting to take out loans, she decided to turn towards the military. Many members of Rachel’s family were veterans, including her father, who was in the United States Marine Corps. So she knew about that lifestyle and the wonderful benefits that come along with it.
Since commissioning in 2011, Rachel is a human resources officer and has spent 9 months in Afghanistan. “Essentially my job is compatible with a human resources director for a company. I deal with accountability, payroll issues, filling positions, awards and retirement. When we were overseas we had about 600 soldiers, and I had to know where every single one of them were every second of the day”. Now, as a Captain, Rachel leads drills and continues with administrative work. “I was not an assertive person before the Guard, which ended up costing me money at some points because I always assumed those in charge knew what they were doing. My advice for any woman wanting to join the military would be to do your research. If you want a certain position, or have an idea, you have to be assertive. People will brush you off, and if this means going above your chain of command, then sometimes you have to push for what you want if you’re not getting heard. I am now very vocal about what I need, or what I think is the right thing.”
The assertiveness, work ethic and advocating for her beliefs gave Rachel the ability to achieve her dreams. “In high school I took a psych class that got me very intrigued in human behavior. I found it so interesting to learn why people do what they do, especially people who could be brought up in the same upbringing and households, but are completely different. I love the science behind it and what motivates people to make certain decisions.” Rachel works as a licensed counselor specializing in substance abuse, as well as alcohol/drug outreach and prevention on the CofC campus. Through all of her work, her eyes have been opened to the huge mental health crisis in our country. “There is still such a stigma around mental health, even inside the same institutions that are supposed to be helping people.”
Even with all Rachel has achieved thus far, she continues to set goals for herself and work each day towards her biggest dream. “My dream is to get a bunch of land and open up a non-profit treatment center that focuses on holistic wellness. This would include things like: art therapy; gardening; yoga; and other physical activities. The most important thing to me is making treatment options accessible to EVERYONE regardless of race, gender, income or socioeconomic status.”
As much as Rachel works hard at advocating and being there for others, she takes the time to do things for herself and her own well-being. “What fills my soul is anything art related. I love using my hands and building things, right now I am really into my woodworking.” Alongside Rachel’s arts and crafts, she attends festivals and enjoys the outdoors by foraging and taking care of her two pigs, Babe and Ophelia.
Rachel has been vegetarian for eight years, and in 2016 she rescued Ophelia from a farm where she wasn’t going to survive. Not knowing anything about pigs, she had no intention of keeping her, but instead taking her to a sanctuary where she would be properly cared for. However, after bringing her home, Rachel just couldn’t let her go. “I lived with her in my apartment until she got too big... and that’s why I bought my house.” Since then Rachel has rescued ‘Babe’ after he fell from a truck on a North Charleston freeway and the two pigs live very happily together.
The biggest takeaway Rachel has received from her life experience is to never let anyone else tell you what is best for you. “When I joined the military people said to me: “Are you sure you want to do that? They will treat you differently as a woman. When I bought a house on my own I heard: “Are you sure you’re going to be able to pay for that on your own? And when I bought myself a motorcycle, people commented “girls don’t do that!”
“I always tell my clients that you cannot pour from an empty cup. If you aren’t replenishing yourself, you will end up exhausted, frustrated and resentful. Always do what makes you happy, and only you know what that is.”
Lived on HHI: 11 years
Favorite thing about living in Charleston:
All of the outdoor activities
“Must go” travel destination: Phuket, Thailand
Bucket List Adventure: Thru-hike the Appalachian Trail
Favorite Brewery: Low Tide Brewery on Johns Island
Dream Job: To interview serial killers