MA Counseling, specialization in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
What do you hope to do with your degree and/or credential, and why?
I think early adulthood is such an important time in an individual’s development, so I hope to use my degree and eventual licensure to work with adolescents and young adults. I am interested in identity development and issues related to diversity, so I see myself working with a community organization or agency to provide services to individuals who might not otherwise have access to mental health resources.
What is your background? For example, where are you from, where else have you earned a degree, and where have you worked?
I am originally from San Antonio, TX, but I attended college at Ball State University in Muncie, IN, where I obtained my undergraduate degree in psychological science and Spanish, with a minor in communication studies, in 2012. While in Indiana, I also worked as an intern in the University Counseling Center and as a teaching assistant for an introductory psychology class. After graduation, I returned to my hometown in Texas, where I spent a year working as an assistant and data analyst for two different consulting firms—one focusing on Apple computers and IT services, and the other specializing in education and museum services. I have now been in San Diego since summer 2013 and I love it!
How did you hear about SOLES, and why did you choose to enroll?
I first heard about USD and SOLES through my Internet research efforts to find counseling graduate programs. I was intrigued by the SOLES emphasis on diversity, social justice, and international experience. I have always loved to travel and been intensely interested in diversity issues, so finding a program that incorporated both along with ethical and social training was exactly what I wanted.
Are you currently working? If so, do you work full-time or part-time, and what do you do?
I currently work two part-time jobs. I am a graduate assistant in USD's Office of Undergraduate Admissions, working to recruit and inform prospective students on everything that makes our school and community fantastic. In my other position, I am an administrative assistant for the same Apple consulting company that I began working for in my hometown two years ago. Fortunately, I do all of my work for this position remotely, so I am able to maintain a flexible schedule and work from any location with Internet access. While it is definitely a challenge to keep the balance between work, school, and a social life, it is very possible.
Tell us about any research or independent study you have done at SOLES.
I am a research assistant working with Dr. Ana Estrada and am a member of her Positive Psychology Project (PoPP) team. Our focus is on gathering evidence on the various ways to increase thriving for all individuals, but with particular emphasis on middle school and at-risk populations. We recently completed a program in which we performed strengths-based interventions with local middle school students and are now preparing to share our experience and research findings at various conferences.
Have you completed an international experience? What did you do?
I recently completed an absolutely amazing international experience through the SOLES Global Center in Madrid, Spain. My classmates and I completed two courses, multicultural counseling and group counseling, while living with local families and exploring Spain’s capital city, fully immersed in the Spanish life and culture. We were also able to travel on the weekends and I was fortunate to visit two cities in southern Spain (Sevilla and Granada) and one in northern central Spain (Segovia) during our two weeks abroad.
How has your SOLES education impacted your career and/or career goals?
My education thus far has had a profound impact on what I want to do with my life. Before coming to SOLES, I had a general idea of the area I wanted to work in, but my class and research experiences have led me to further define my goals and to focus in on the populations and issues that truly call to me. Through my time at SOLES, I am being prepared to deal with all counseling situations, but I have also had the opportunity to explore the areas that interest me most. I know the population I want to work with, the issues I most want to help solve, and the context in which I want to operate, in a way that I had never imagined before beginning my Master's education.
Which class has impacted you the most? Why?
I believe my ethics course has had the greatest impact on me so far (though there are plenty of other courses that give it a run for its money). This class was fantastic. It really introduced me to what it means to be a counselor, and particularly to how much responsibility we have as mental health professionals. I feel that this was a wonderful and eye-opening course to take in my first semester of the program, and it has colored every experience I have had since.
Are there specific SOLES faculty, staff or administrators you feel have contributed significantly to your success? How have they helped?
Every member of the SOLES faculty, staff, and administration has been wonderful in supporting my classmates and I as we pursue our education and career goals. In particular, I have been very lucky to have the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Ana Estrada. Dr. Estrada is my academic advisor and research lead, and has even been my professor for two different courses. As a mentor and resource, she has helped me to explore the research and professional areas that most interest me and has shared from her wealth of experience in the counseling field to help me define and pursue my goals.