I have been passionate about helping others for as long as I can remember. I believe this passion was instilled within me as a result of spending significant time with both of my grandmothers. My maternal grandmother contracted polio in the 1950s and was paralyzed from the waist down as a result. My paternal grandmother experienced a childhood injury that caused one leg to grow shorter than the other. I was lucky to spend many of the afternoons and weekends of my childhood with these wonderful ladies and cherish those memories to this day.
Although both of these women were fiercely independent, I gained an understanding of what families go through when a loved one has significant health challenges. I helped my parents with caregiving duties as my grandmothers' abilities to do for themselves changed. I listened as family members discussed and decided on treatment plans and levels of care. I watched as my parents juggled full-time jobs, caring for me, and looking after their parents.
I have no doubt that these early personal experiences helped shape me into the strong advocate I am today. I learned early on that it is not always easy to navigate the health care system or gain access to resources. I understood that caring for someone dear to you is a true labor of love that can be both rewarding and overwhelming. And now, I consider it a true honor to be able to combine my early life experiences with my training and professional experience to help others as they make their way through life's challenges.
It has been my good fortune to study at two of our country's best programs: Stanford University and The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work.
During my time at Stanford, I completed three years of coursework in Electrical Engineering (EE) before I fully acknowledged my passion for working with people. I was originally a double major in EE and Psychology. I took psychology classes because I found people fascinating and it was a nice change of pace from my engineering course load. I worked in the on-campus nursery school looking after a classroom of 2-year-olds because I loved seeing the world through their new eyes. I volunteered as a counselor at the student Sexual Heath Peer Resource Center (SHPRC) because I was comfortable talking with people about sensitive subjects and was known as someone who could be trusted and who respected confidentiality. I became a Resident Assistant (RA) in the dorms because I wanted to do my part to ensure students had a supportive and meaningful experience both in and outside of the classroom. I served as a research assistant because I valued the amazing, cutting-edge research that was being conducted by some of the most preeminent scholars in the field of psychology. It wasn't until the summer before my fourth year that I realized my fellow EE majors were not spending their free time the same way I was and that working with people was to be my life's focus. Ultimately, I graduated with a degree in Psychology with a focus on Health and Development.
Upon reflection, this path seems much more obvious than it did to me at the time. My father is a mechanical engineer by degree. My mother was a teacher and then long-time guidance counselor at a Chicago public elementary school. As their child, I like to think I embody some of the best of each of my parents. This has resulted in a combination of aptitudes. To this day, I love using my analytical side to solve problems and think through complex issues.
I completed my graduate studies at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work (UT SSW), where I specialized in Gerontology and Dispute Resolution. I thoroughly enjoyed my educational experience at UT and worked very hard to get as much out of my time in the program as possible. As a result, I was inducted into Phi Alpha, the national honor society for social work, and was bestowed the honor of becoming a Dean's Ambassador. I was also appointed to the Professional Linkage Committee, which consisted of two student appointees, faculty members, and local social workers.
During graduate school, I held field placements at both the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) and the inpatient department of St. David's Rehabilitation Center. At TSBVI, I counseled individual students and co-facilitated groups. One group was a support program for students diagnosed with degenerative eye disorders. Members of the group were at various stages of losing their sight. This group provided a safe place for the students to explore their feelings about the changes to their vision, share coping skills, and nurture supportive relationships. At St. David's, I was a member of the "neuro" team. We worked with patients who had experienced some type of neurological injury or illness, such as traumatic brain or spinal cord injury or stroke. I was responsible for discharge planning for patients and helping family members establish and coordinate the next level of care.
It is my privilege to use the specialized training I received at Stanford and UT SSW when working with older adults, their loved ones, and caregivers to navigate the dizzying array of senior care options and the emotions that arise during this process.
I have had the benefit of working in a variety of settings -- each of which has given me invaluable experience and skills.
In my first years after Stanford, I worked for a large technology company. In my various roles there, I was able to combine my technical training with my training in psychology to examine how human factors impact products, test groundbreaking technologies, and help corporate customers and coworkers alike navigate times of financial transition for the company. Through these experiences, I am attuned to the pressures and demands placed upon professionals in this new economy.
Since my graduation from UT, I have worked in a number of medical settings. I believe in an integrative approach to mental health as one's physical health has an impact on one's mental well-being and vice versa. Through my work with clients as they sought care in various medical settings, including Blackstock Family Health Center, Girling Home Health, the Hospital at Westlake Medical Center, and University Medical Center Brackenridge, I was able to hone my skills in helping people as they adjust to and cope with changes in their life brought about by changes in their health status and levels of ability.
At Blackstock, I worked with a dynamic interdisciplinary team of doctors, a psychologist, nurses, medical assistants, and pharmacists. This teaching clinic provided me with the wonderful opportunity to train doctors and other medical professionals on how mental health and environmental factors can impact a patient's overall health and ability to follow a treatment plan. I gained extensive counseling experience through this position, helping clients of all ages, who were facing a wide range of issues, and provided crisis management when needed. I also provided resource and referral information to clients who needed access to the wide variety of community programs and services.
Other employment includes work at the statewide hotline run by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, where I triaged and prioritized calls of concern for vulnerable Texans at risk of abuse and neglect.
LICENSE, TRAINING, HONORS, & AFFILIATIONS
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) -- #41137
Member, Phi Alpha (National Honor Society for Social Work)
Dean's Ambassador, UT Austin SSW
Student Appointee, Professional Linkage Committee, UT Austin SSW
Member, National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
Member, Greater Austin Social Workers (GASW)
Past Mentor, Mentoring University Students for Excellence (MUSE) Program at UT Austin SSW
APD Crisis Team Volunteer Training
I grew up in Chicago but have lived in Austin since 2000. In my free time, I love curling up with a good book, solving logic and jigsaw puzzles, yoga, exploring the outdoors, and traveling and spending time with my family. My husband and I have one daughter who keeps us endlessly fascinated and quite busy.