For over 14 years, Jesus Solorio (BA '09) worked for a nonprofit organization that focused on educational equity in schools, eventually becoming the organization's Associate Director. His motivation for this work stemmed from his own challenging educational experiences as a child of Mexican immigrants in the school system:
"I grew up in the shadows of the school system, never fully engaged and often getting in trouble. I barely graduated from high school. Reflecting back, I was experiencing identity confusion, feeling like my culture was not being valued at all."
After many years working for change in the educational system, he began to feel "something was missing." He decided to go back to school to pursue social justice through individual change work, with the idea to become a therapist and find ways to integrate culture, spirituality, and traditional indigenous ways with Western psychology. He found CIIS to be a good fit for future graduate studies, and in this way discovered the BAC Program.
"The program challenged my notion of what it meant to be a student...We sat in a circle and shared perspectives and dialogue. Previously, I was in the back of the classroom and I would do the bare minimum, was never engaged, but here you can't do that. I felt empowered to bring in who I was, to bring in the literature that I was interested in studying."
Since graduating, Jesus earned his MA in Counseling Psychology through CIIS's Community Mental Health Program. He is now engaged in the work he envisioned before returning to school: infusing cultural practices and indigenous spirituality into community mental health work in middle schools, community organizations, and colleges.