School Psychology Week is November 9-13. We recognize and celebrate the important work that school psychologists do to help all students succeed and thrive. We are proud to highlight four of our own School Psychology candidates.
Anna studied Child and Adolescent Development and minored in Psychology as an undergraduate at CSUN. While at CSUN she fell in love with the campus community and the San Fernando Valley. After one year of graduating, Anna started the School Psychology M.S. program.
Anna chose school psychology because it encompasses data, research, and intervention; furthermore, school psychology is an opportunity for one to see the big picture and create positive change in a student. Anna explains that a combination of her courses, cohort, and faculty has made her a stronger person, “I have learned how to be tough and resilient. Things are not always going to work out or go my way. We're not always going to have good news for students or their families, but our job is to work things out and to offer support.” Anna has also credited school psychology in helping her relate to people better and it has solidified her biggest motivation to help people.
Anna’s goal upon completing her M.S. in School Psychology is to promote positivity and mental health acceptance in school settings. “It’s important to have open discussions about mental health...students need to know that it’s okay to reach out and ask for help without judgment, especially in minority communities.” Anna wants the public to know that school psychologists are there to support and uplift, “we assess the best course for the student and their needs; and yes we are more than the person that just gives an IQ test.”
Joel Padilla has been involved in education for 13 years. He started a journey to find the most effective way that will allow him to help the most students possible. He realized after meeting several school psychologists that he could do everything he had been doing while incorporating his undergraduate degree. CSUN has a great reputation for producing some of the most competent school psychologists, naturally, he was sold.
Joel is eager to finish his program so that he can serve students and their families, “it’s about getting out there with everything that I have had the privilege to learn and use it to help students and their families attain a level of educational equity, that unfortunately too many never reach...our interactions with others are swayed by our intentions and if we want to strive for more positive connections with others, we must focus on being a kind-hearted, caring and genuine person.” Serving students is just one of the many goals that Joel has. He shares that he would like to become more involved in educational policy, maybe a professor and teach at a university; but his ultimate goal is to be a more competent school psychologist. “The better I become and the more I learn will make me a much more effective resource for students, families, and teachers I will eventually support.”
The public should know that school psychologists are an available resource for them to obtain the help they need or information to get them the help they need. “School psychologists are some of the busiest school staff and often times have many responsibilities to juggle, but I have yet to meet a school psychologist who won’t make time to help.”
Annie Ovanessian is a second-year school psychology graduate student. While majoring in sociology and minoring in psychology at CSUN she kept hearing from faculty and peers alike about the M.S. School Psychology program at the Michael D. Eisner College of Education. When her mother, an employee in the Glendale Unified School District, brought home a flyer about jobs in school psychology Annie knew that was a sign to apply to the program.
Annie is excited to make an impact on young students and is confident in the tools she is acquiring in her courses. Diversity in Counseling 643 has taught her how to be an advocate for various diverse groups of students. “This course has given me the perspective to step out of my shoes and dive into a role that I’m not living. I now have the skills to educate others around me about heavy diversity and racial issues.” Annie goes on to say that talking about mental health is taboo in many minority groups, including her own. One of her life’s goals is to create change within her Armenian culture and teach that there is nothing to be ashamed of when talking about mental health.
Another of Annie’s goals is to make school wide changes. “I want to normalize mental health; students and their families need to know that mental health is important and that we always need emotional support.” Annie further explains the importance of being that one person, “all it takes is one person to notice something in a student to prevent a tragedy like a school shooting or a suicide. Students need that one person to say hello to them every morning. The difference of creating that relationship can go so far. I want to be that one person, the one that is out at recess everyday so a child knows they can come to me.”
Hilda Gallo reflects on her personal experience that led her to school psychology. She was born and raised in Jalisco, Mexico and has three of kids of her own. She also has a passion to help underrepresented people. A counselor suggested she look into school psychology and the final push to CSUN was because of an article she read by Dr. Wilda Laija-Rodriguez, faculty and program coordinator of School Psychology at CSUN.
Hilda does not take responsibilities lightly when it comes to her role as a future school psychologist and she values how the program has been able to marry the two different components of data and empathy. She hopes to work at an elementary school with minority groups that has a high population of English learners. Hilda explains that she can relate to parents that are from a different country and have uncertainty, “My mission and passion is to make the outcome better for the kids and I know I can do that by making a connection with their parents.” Hilda adds that she hopes to have more social-emotional programs for the entire school and workshops that empower parents.
Hilda states that school psychologists need to have patience and be empathetic, they need to have a passion for helping. “We are like superheroes, we wear many hats, we are there to help the kids and everyone else involved. We learn about a student’s strengths and weaknesses and we leverage their strengths so they can be better learners.” Hilda states that this is challenging work but it’s also very rewarding and that there is always a way to approach and validate, "by working with children in the autism spectrum every day and teaching them ways to cope and learn social skills can be very challenging; but when they look up at you and use a strategy you've been working on for months, it totally makes your day. It’s a humbling and beautiful experience.”