What is your current job?
I am a mental health therapist in private practice as well as the editor of NW Kids Magazine in Portland, Oregon.
Why did you choose this profession?
I have always been passionate about people's stories and fascinated by human relationships. Delving into human behavior analysis and self-empowerment was something that I fell into due to my own personal challenges, and when I realized the utter beauty and power of a therapeutic and helping relationship in internal change, everything fell into place and I knew that being a therapist was my calling.
My role with NW Kids started as a support position while in graduate school that I retained as I started my therapist career. When the editor position became available, I saw it as an opportunity to use my writing, communication, and design skills to serve and impact my community in a different and visible way, as well as to learn and develop the discipline, initiative, and self-structure required to be fully self-employed.
What more do you wish to accomplish in your professional career?
The growth trajectory and flexibility that comes with therapy private practice is considerable. I currently specialize in helping adult individuals navigate heartbreak, dating, and relationships; I also work with cultivating personal identity and navigating multiculturalism within that space. I plan to create and hold seminars and workshops for single adults who are looking to date and form healthy relationships; I also hope to become a well-established resource for adult children of immigrants in recognizing and reconciling the sometimes vast chasms between their family culture and western culture.
Beyond that, the door is open! I have had interest in pursuing a doctorate in sociology, and I also have wild dreams of switching gears completely and getting into interior design. Regardless of what happens, I know that I will always be a therapist. The energy and healing that I draw from this line of work is what drives me, both personally and professionally.
Tell us about a decision or change you made that turned out to be a positive career move.
I originally started graduate school in the school counseling program at Portland State University, which is within the counseling department. As I moved through the three-year program, and especially as I experienced my clinical practicum, which had me providing therapy to adults, I found myself drawn more and more to individual, clinical process work and away from the more curriculum-driven and concrete behavioral work involved in school counseling. Three months shy of completing the school counseling program, I made the difficult decision to transfer to the clinical mental health program and tack on an additional year of coursework and internship. (Anyone who's been in graduate school can attest that being in it for three years is long enough, let alone four...) It was a decision that flew in the face of my fear of failure, of non-completion, of running out of time and being "behind," of debt... the list was numerous. Ultimately, four years later, I have absolutely no regrets and I know wholeheartedly that it was the right decision.
How has Haverford influenced your professional career?
Haverford was the first environment in which my sense of self-efficacy and intrinsic value was nurtured, cultivated, and encouraged. It instilled in me the importance of community, empathy, trust, and mutual respect. During my time there, we often spoke of idealism as part of the "Haverbubble," implying that once we leave, we're spat into "the real world" where people don't necessarily treat us with "trust, concern, and respect" and don't espouse values of peaceful confrontation. Haverford treated me as an adult from the moment I stepped foot on campus at 17 years old. My first few years after college were spent feeling like no one in authority positions viewed me as an adult, at 21, 22, or 23 years old. Rather than submitting to this disempowering attitude, I continued to seek and evaluate professional environments in which I could use the voice and confidence that I developed at Haverford to influence change and inspire a shift in culture.
I attribute so much of my resilience, self-confidence, and success to my time at Haverford. I truly believe that I would not be the person I am today without that experience, and I am so thankful to have lived it.