What makes you a Difference Maker?
I long to see people healed of internal issues that manifest as illnesses and disorders. Health psychologists and Psychotherapists assist the health field in finding the hidden reasons for health conditions, diseases and disorders. Scientists have long acknowledged that if an individual can identify the problem and change his thinking/behavior, he may be able to change his emotional, mental and spiritual outcomes as well as his physical health and well-being. Some illnesses and disorders are the result of unresolved human issues as well as exposure to external problems. My goal is to pursue further knowledge and research that will equip me to be well rounded in this field. I am always seeking opportunities to learn more about social, environmental and psychological issues that affect the population and the human mind. I love ethnography (fieldwork), engaging and finding answers in the community. If you can gain a person’s trust, they will tell you their truth and perhaps you can move closer to helping them resolve those internal issues. Two people in my life has given me this compassion to heal individuals of life traumas; my grandmother, who was a healer and my godmother, the encourager.
I provided research assistance to Associate Professor Paul Draus on several urban sociology research projects. These projects focus on remediation, contamination and gentrification issues in Detroit. I participated as a student fellow for the Inside/Out Prison Program at Macomb Correctional Facility and team leader that helped create an urban garden at a Detroit substance abuse agency. (SHAR- Self Help Addiction Rehabilitation). This is an ongoing project that will resume this spring and will include client participation as part of their therapy. Many of my classmates from Dr. Draus' urban sociology class at UMD helped to create this garden last summer and have made commitments to come back and assist in expanding the garden.
Co-produced video and presentation “The Greening of West Grand Boulevard,” at the Michigan Sociological Society at the University of Michigan (Flint) - October 2015. Class project of urban garden and Detroit neighborhood engagement.
Conducted focus group of Southwest Detroit, Marathon Refineries and the effect of contamination in Detroit neighborhoods.
Invited to participate in a panel discussion with faculty regarding service learning.
Presented research at the North Central Sociological Association Conference on Remediation and Contamination in Detroit Neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois - March 2016.
What is your Dream Career?
I want to continue working in the addiction/mental health field in a higher capacity perhaps even in a hospital or psychiatric institution as a clinical health psychologist or either a psychotherapist with a private practice. An immediate goal is to continue learning research protocols and to create a new method or therapy that will assist individuals while in the recovery process. Sociology and research in sociology has taught me social theory and how to identify the social issues that cause psychological problems, so I need to stay connected to both disciplines. I have even considered, public interest law. I'd like to work with marginalized populations with social, civil or environmental issues who lack financial means or representation, perhaps with the ACLU or Legal Aid Defender's office.
What was your Defining Moment at UM-Dearborn?
Actually two defining moments. One, was being accepted into the SOAR program for Non-traditional students. The University of Michigan was always the school I wanted to attend but life happens and you think “I will never finish”. Soar gave me this opportunity to finish school with the support of a community and a phenomenal director, Ellen Judge Gonzalez. This program has meant everything to me in achieving my educational goals. The other was being asked by the professor to join his urban sociology research team. I took his class on a whim and it turned out to be one of the most exciting classes that I have ever taken. He made learning about social issues and social theory extremely thought provoking and I learned along with my class to always keep an open mind because what you see physically does not always tell the whole story. You need to engage and learn what has actually happened. I guess that is why I enjoy being in the community so much. It’s like putting together a puzzle. I am always interested in what actually happened that bring people to their state of being.