Leaving a Legacy Through Language

Silvia's Story

Thursday, January 5, 2017

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Silvia Fernandez is a wife, mother of three, full-time employee at the Department of Human Services, and student of JBU’s Graduate Counseling Program. Her passion for counseling began at a very young age.

“I had always been a quiet person, and I noticed that people were comfortable talking to me when they were going through difficult times. I would be there to listen, and as I got older, I realized that I would like to do this professionally.”

When she was just 12 years old, Silvia left her home country of El Salvador and was brought to America, which she says changed the course of her life. Silvia says that by living in the United States, she has been granted opportunities she would not have had in El Salvador.

“I feel blessed to live in this country where there are resources available. It takes effort, but if you’re focused on accomplishing something, you can."

While working in the public health industry, Silvia realized there was a great need for bilingual professionals, especially in counseling. The interpreters she’d encountered did not have the experience or knowledge of the counseling vocabulary, leading to miscommunication between clients and the professionals serving them. Silvia’s discovery of this issue led her to enroll in a counseling program in Little Rock.

“Before coming to JBU, I was accepted into a different program, but I had some family problems while I was in the program. I went to my professors, but they couldn’t understand the challenges I was facing and didn’t support me, so I decided to leave the program.”

A few months later, Silvia received a magazine in the mail from JBU. She called to find out more about the program, and after much prayer, decided to apply. Silvia decided that if she was accepted, she would “go for it,” and that’s what happened. While in the program, Silvia discovered that JBU is very different from the program she previously attended.

“I am so thankful I was accepted, and I’ve been recommending the program to a lot of individuals I know because it's a good program, and the professors are very supportive. Whenever a student is going through a difficult time, they are there to help, listen, and support you.”

Silvia is currently interning at two different clinics and has several Spanish-speaking clients. She hopes that bilingual individuals will continue to apply to the program and serve the Hispanic community. In the future, Silvia wants to counsel both English and Spanish-speaking clients. She also wants to do pro bono work for individuals who cannot afford to pay counseling fees. Silvia is the first person in her family to have earned a bachelor's degree, and she'll graduate with her master’s degree next year. Her daughter will begin JBU’s Graduate Counseling Program in the spring.

“I’m leaving that legacy for my kids and the other generations that are coming behind me. I could have been one of those kids that stayed in El Salvador, but for some reason, I was brought to live here in America. I am blessed to be able to go to JBU and earn this degree. If I can bless others with what I do, then that’s what I’m going to do."

"This hasn’t been just my work; I thank God for my husband and my kids, my family, my employer, and the professors who have been very supportive during this process—but first, I thank God. He has given me the strength to get through the program. There have been a few sleepless nights—having to stay up and do homework while balancing other responsibilities—but the Lord has provided. It’s a system working together.”

 

 

 

Blog HomePosted By: Jessica Turner - 1/5/17 3:00 PM

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