The L&C Graduate School of Education and Counseling’s school counseling program is where I learned how to build a counseling program that meets the needs of all students.
Degree and Class Year
Job Title, Organization
What three words would you use to describe Lewis & Clark?
Tell us about your heritage. How has this shaped your educational and/or career journey?
I am an enrolled member of the Shoshone-Bannock tribes of Fort Hall, Idaho. I’m also Mexican-American on my father’s side. My Native American culture has always played an important role in my life. Despite being an “Urban Indian,” I grew up dancing, learning to bead, gathering and preserving foods, and visiting family in Fort Hall.
Representation in education is critically important for our students. I grew up not seeing educators who looked like me or shared similar experiences to mine. I became a school counselor to be a presence for students to see someone who they could relate to and confide in with deeply personal issues, as well as trust my guidance around post-secondary plans.
As a school counselor I actively worked to help Native and Latinx students develop a positive racial identity and connection to their cultural heritage at school. Whether it was through facilitating affinity group spaces or organizing field trips to culturally specific activities, I always prioritized giving students access to identify-affirming experiences. A positive identity and sense of self is a protective factor for students and especially for our Black and Brown students.
Now as a district administrator I’m focused on ensuring students have access to a comprehensive school counseling program that builds personal social and academic skills as well as builds students’ knowledge of career and college readiness. We regularly infuse equity work into our professional learning with school counselors, which includes helping our professionals see the importance of affirming students’ racial identity in the school setting each and every day.
What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?
I heard great things about the school counseling program and its school system-focus, as well as the graduate school’s overall social justice focus.
What have you been doing since graduation?
I was a practicing high school counselor for 15 years, a high school counselor lead for 3 years, and recently became a district administrator supporting K–12 school counseling in Portland Public Schools.
How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for your current position?
The L&C Graduate School of Education and Counseling’s school counseling program emphasized the strength of comprehensive school counseling programming as a critical component of the education we provide to our students. Teaching from the ASCA National Model, I learned how to build a counseling program that meets the needs of all students.
What would you say is the most important thing you learned at Lewis & Clark?
The importance of relationships and collaboration. I still remain in contact with several of my professors as well as classmates, and I reach out regularly when opportunities to collaborate come up.