We Are UNCW Telling our story, one Seahawk at a time.

James Zanker '01

Jan. 24, 2017

James Zanker’s family had some reservations about him studying psychology. “They saw it as a fringe career path – one that was reserved ‘for others,’” he said. 

He worked and paid for all of his schooling without having to take out any student loans. In addition to earning a bachelor’s in psychology from UNCW, he received a Master of Arts Service Agency Counseling Degree from UNC Pembroke and is now the proud owner of Zanker Counseling Services, located in downtown Wilmington, NC.

“I had known for my entire cognizant life that I was talented at subjects related to human services and psychology,” he said. “I chose UNCW because of its fine reputation, the fact that is was part of the reputable UNC system and because of UNCW’s excellent psychology department.”  

While at UNCW, he was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and Psi Chi Psychology National Honor Society. He also served as a Student Ambassador and was a member of the UNCW Crew Team.

A licensed professional counselor, nationally certified counselor and licensed clinical addiction specialist, Zanker loves what he is able to give others through mental health counseling, life coaching or music arts therapy through a related business, Zanker Music Arts Therapy.

“They are all a continual thrill for me and I am working on improving and increasing the level of services that I can provide within each format,” he says.

Music and art are just two of Zanker’s “hundreds of hobbies.” He plays several instruments and “creates all sorts of art.” He also enjoys woodworking.

Zanker is grateful he was able to incorporate his passions into his counseling services. He starts each day with a prayer of thanks and strives to maximize his day for others with the abilities he has been given. He first visited the New Hanover County Juvenile Detention Center as part of his practicum at UNCW. He now gives musical performances at the center several times a year and works with the youth there to tap into their natural talents and build careers.

In terms of “free advice” for others, he says, “Crystalize your goals. Write a mission statement for yourself. Work on your weaknesses. Make the most out of your life each day.”

-- Caroline Cropp