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NBCC Fellowship Program
Career Counseling MS student, Alina Quintana, chosen for high honors—NBCC Fellowship program
Alina Quintana, a student in the MS Counseling program, Career Counseling specialization, in the College of Education was recently chosen for the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) Minority Fellowship Program. In 2014, NBCC was awarded two additional federally funded MFP grants from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that allow the Foundation to distribute up to 80 master’s-level minority fellowships on a yearly basis. As one of two CSU students selected in all of California, this nationwide recognition earns her top marks in the Career Counseling path and showcases the top work being produced by the Counselor Education MA program.
Ms. Quintana, currently a Career Development Advisor, was selected in this national competition to increase the number of culturally competent addiction counselors and mental health counselors available to underserved minority populations, with a specific focus on transition-age youth (ages 16–25). During her time as a fellow, she will have the opportunity to work directly with her chosen community to better serve their needs.
Alina wasn’t always sure of the path towards her career. As an undergrad student, she was unsure of the options available to her and how to find the information she needed to advance her education. She felt the challenge of navigating the college process to be formidable. When she looked through a critical lens at the role models that inspired her career ambitions, she found the people that she admired most to be working in Counseling. It was when she began working at the Career Center here on campus that she saw a deep importance and social justice impact of her work. Here she saw how Career Counseling provides a path to economic justice, and Alina committed to helping others navigate this path.
As a first-generation American, Alina’s mother always pushed her towards education. Growing up, poverty and the other struggles of being first-generation were a hardship that shaped her motivation to create better experiences, not just for herself but for her whole family. Even with a focus on advancing her family, her mother always encouraged her to pursue a career that would make her happy, and not just be a paycheck. Alina attributes much of this influence to her decision to pursue a career helping people so that she can continue to be a force of good in people’s lives every day.
Alina sees her work in Career Services as part of social justice and equity. As an undergrad at UC Davis, the courses she took within the Chicano Studies department taught her how these leaders paved the way for social justice in our communities today, and how equity and access make such a big difference in people’s lives. “I see how impactful Career Services are in BIPOC communities,” she says, “especially with first-generation college students. Career Services are important to helping students with indecision and getting them the information they need to make purposeful career decisions.”
The process to become an NBCC fellow can be a daunting task, and Ms. Quintana is especially thankful for all the help from the Counselor Education faculty. Her instructors motivate her with informative courses, they become mentors and even help with the fellowship process. Drs. Bita Rivas and Rachel Marshall were especially helpful with writing letters of recommendation and understanding the application process. When asked about what made her want to pursue this path, Alina mentioned how impactful faculty bringing professionals from the community into the classroom was. One of her instructors—Christina Rogers—brought in professionals from the community to talk about the process of counseling youth, and what a difference it makes in opening opportunities for them; which Alina says really helped showcase the importance of this career path.
Alina is a natural fit for this fellowship. She was already working with diverse communities and putting her passion to good use. In her role as a fellow, she will have the opportunity to take that a step further, working on professional development conferences, attending symposiums, and working with other fellows on a project to benefit an underserved community. The opportunity to work on large conferences like this is one Alina wouldn’t have been able to participate in without the fellowship assistance. The financial assistance and connections she receives from this opportunity will help propel her in her career and establish her as a leader in her field early on.
Alina’s advice to those thinking about pursuing a similar opportunity, “Take a chance. We live with ourselves every day—often we miss to see how impactful our work really is.”
We look forward to following Alina Quintana’s work as she completes her MS Counseling degree and seeing what her path as an NBCC Minority Fellowship Program fellow has in store.