Could we get some brief biographical info from you? Hometown, previous experience, education, etc.?
I am originally from El Salvador, but grew up in Venezuela. I lived in Puerto Rico for 6 years before moving to North Carolina in September of 2009. I am the oldest of three siblings, and I graduated high school from Salesians Catholic School in 2001. I started college in El Salvador in 2002 and in 2003, I moved to Puerto Rico to continue with my college degree in the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. In 2008 I graduated and received a Bachelors’ Degree in Arts with a major in Social Work.
In 2009, I moved to NC and at first I didn’t know anyone. It was a bit of a hard transition, but after a couple of years my social network increased, and I found myself a new home! So far I’m planning to stay here! In 2010 I started to work in the mental health field with youth and families at risk of being placed out of their home. Since then, I have accumulated over 10 years of clinical experience. I have worked in a variety of settings including in-home services with adolescents and families, outpatient mental health programs, a substance use and dual diagnosis non-profit, and private practice. While working in the intensive in-home program, I realized that I wanted to become a counselor and it helped me clarify my sense of purpose in life. Two years, in 2012, I enrolled in the Capella University to pursue that dream.
In 2016, I completed my Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling, graduated with distinctions, and obtained two professional licensures (Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist). This opened the door to work in another of my interests, which is the substance abuse and recovery field. I’m also a member of the National Board of Certified Counselors and I’m recognized as a National Certified Counselor and a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor. In January 2020, I joined the Green Hill Recovery team as a Primary Clinician to help develop and run the Community Outpatient Program.
What is one thing your hometown could be known for, and why?
For me it goes back to food! In El Salvador, it’s known for the meal called Pupusas (they are delicious and I highly recommend you try it). Venezuela is known for Arepas, and Puerto Rico with the Mofongo!
What made you want to work in this field?
The mental health and substance abuse field is very intriguing and interesting for me as an individual and as a professional, as they play a major role in our society, and there are few quality supports to manage and assist individuals with these challenges. I have always been recognised as a good listener, and I enjoy providing suggestions to those that are struggling. I consider myself a helper by nature! My drive to understand and learn how to best support those who struggle with mental health and substance abuse is another key reason I enjoy being in this field. I firmly believe that this is my way to positively impact society and help save lives!
What do you believe makes GHR stand out in its field, and why?
Green Hill specializes in working with young adult males (18-30 y/o) with substance use disorder to help them find healthier coping skills to prevent ongoing substance use. Green Hill Recovery focuses highly on assisting young males in providing them with clinically driven services for emerging adults in early recovery. At Green Hill’s Community Program, we focus on helping our clients hone the skills necessary for sustained change in their recovery journey, improve their quality of life and achieve their life goals. We have a strong focus on working with their executive functioning, academic and career goals, all while helping them gain flexibility and resiliency to adapt to life’s circumstances. We help them move towards self-actualization and community interconnectedness, which is critical for long-term recovery.
What does your ideal day look like?
If I don’t have to work, I would love to wake up at the beach, go for a walk and feel the sand and sun! I would swim, surf, nap, snack, and repeat all day long!
Can you name one role model you have, and why that person has had such an impact?
My mother is my main role model. She has been a fighter and is a very determined person. She does not give up and always is trying to find a way to see the positive side of things, despite what may be going on. Her focus on sacrificing her own happiness to give us a better quality of life is something that will always be close to my heart and is a driving force in my life!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Enjoy your life and be yourself no matter what.
What is your favorite GHR memory?
Going to paintball with the clients and staff!
What’s one message you wish our clients would always take with them?
Life is all about perception of events, and being able to focus on what is under your control. You can make things happen. You’re in control of change. If you change your mind, you will change your life!
Favorite Movie: The Shawshank Redemption
Favorite Food(s): Sushi, Mediterranean, Hispanic
Hobbies: Outdoor shooting range, trying new restaurants/food
Favorite Album: Gold by Sublime
Favorite sports team: Depends on the sport!
Pets: My four-legged son Sammy
Dream Vacation: Too many! Most include going to the beach!
Favorite Book(s): The Subtle Art of Not giving a F… by Mark Manson
What you wanted to be as a kid: Journalist