What were you doing before you came to Berkeley Social Welfare?
Before I came to the social welfare program, I was living in Tennessee with my partner, who was stationed at Fort Campbell Kentucky in the Army. I was working as an early childhood service coordinator, providing case management for children ages 0 to 3 who have developmental delays due to a mental or physical disability or complications during infancy.
What motivated you to pursue an MSW?
What motivated me to enter into the social welfare program is that I've always believed in making a difference for young children who have experienced trauma. I also have a personal connection due to experiencing homelessness and witnessing domestic violence as a young child in my own family. I believe it is my mission to serve children and families who have experienced similar circumstances. In addition, building up strength and bringing light to ancestral power families have inherently is one of my passions in this field.
Why did you choose Berkeley?
I chose Berkeley because it was a dream come true for me to be accepted. Being born and living in the Bay area as a young child, I never believed a girl like me, who grew up in extreme poverty, would be able to go to a school such as Berkeley. Also an inspiration for me is always my mom. She always taught me to dream big and to never settle for less. My mom is from Nicaragua, and she came to this country in her early twenties as a monolingual Spanish speaker, with almost no connections in San Francisco. With her heart, passion, and drive my mom was able to get my brother and I out of homelessness. It is through my mom's drive and love that I chose Berkeley, because we are both making our dreams come true.
What appealed to you about your concentration?
What appealed to me about the Strengthening Children Youth and Families concentration is that I have my undergraduate degree in child development. I've always had a passion for working with children, and I believe I can make a difference through direct practice in their lives as well as their families lives. Also, it was important to me to be able to serve communities in the Bay Area and serve primarily Spanish-speaking children and families. With this concentration, I was able to do that and much more. I was also able to enjoy the process by building relationships, community, power, agency, and hope in Latinx populations, who are extremely vulnerable due to today's political climate.
What do you appreciate most about the programs here?
The things that I appreciate the most about the programs here are the opportunities for building community with other Latinx students and faculty. The Latinx Center of Excellence has truly changed my course and direction in this work. Before entering the program, I was not confident about my ability to serve Latinx communities due to negative stigma with speaking Spanish in my life. I am grateful for this opportunity to learn from my field practicum and improve my skills, as well as my approach to working in this population. I am also extremely grateful for my field faculty instructor. She has made a real difference in my life and also in my confidence towards building my career. She inspires me to aim higher and to practice self compassion. Representation matters in this program, and having instructors that represent the community that I come from makes me feel like I have a chance to be successful in this work.
What keeps you busy outside of Haviland Hall?
What keeps me busy outside of this program is caring for my family and prioritizing my own mental health. My mom suffers from severe liver disease, and I support her with my love and energy. For my own mental health, I'm a very active person. I enjoy exercise, hiking, taking my dog on walks, and being outdoors. I believe energy is present all around our world and through the exchange of energy with nature I'm able to restore and heal myself.