The Mental Health Talent Pipeline provides full-tuition scholarships to bilingual and bicultural students in approved master’s level programs in counseling psychology. In particular, the Healthcare Foundation partners with the University of San Francisco, Santa Rosa campus. Together, we’re working to close the accessibility gap in bilingual and bicultural mental health services for Latinx residents of northern Sonoma County and, by supporting a new generation of aspiring mental health professionals, helping to clear a path for tomorrow’s community leaders. The Healthcare Foundation also supports paid traineeships in northern Sonoma County for third-year students as they prepare to become licensed professionals.
The Healthcare Foundation is grateful to our generous individual donors, as well as the Bancroft Foundation and the John Jordan Foundation for supporting the Mental Health Talent Pipeline.
Stephanie Sosa entered the counseling psychology program at USF Santa Rosa in 2022 having worked as a case manager for youth, and with a passion for advocating on behalf of vulnerable young people living with mental health challenges. Her own family upbringing as well as her professional experience interacting and collaborating with the families of her clients alerted her to the widespread stigma and need for greater education around mental health issues in Latino communities. She looks forward to becoming a licensed therapist and addressing this need by serving monolingual or bilingual Latino and other multicultural clients across her community.
Mental Health Talent Pipeline Scholarship Awardee
Bianca Pulido applied for a job as a bilingual counselor for the California HOPE program after the 2017 Tubbs Fire, where she came to realize the full extent of the need for bilingual mental health service providers. Her experiences at HOPE led her to pursue a career providing these much-needed services to her northern Sonoma County community. “Mental health was so important at this time,” she recalls. “We were all affected. I experienced it as a part of this community. But with some of these individuals I was seeing, I knew how great the need was there, either for themselves or their children or their parents.” In 2021, in her third year of the master’s program in counseling psychology at USF Santa Rosa, Bianca did a traineeship at Corazón Healdsburg in a collaboration with Side By Side. She graduated with her master’s degree in May 2022, and that month became a mental health clinician with On the Margins in Healdsburg and Cloverdale.
Catalina Frausto received her master’s degree in counseling psychology from USF Santa Rosa in May 2022. She was recently hired as a bilingual, bicultural clinician with Support Our Students Community Counseling (SOS), established in 1993 to support the mental health and wellbeing of Sonoma County youth. Catalina spent her third year in the graduate program as a trainee in SOS’s school-based Cloverdale branch, where she continues to work today as a school-based therapist serving high school and middle school students, and their families. The first in her family to graduate from college, and now the first to earn an advanced degree, Catalina was inspired by some of her earliest experiences and role models to pursue a career helping others. “I had a therapist when I was little,” she explains. “When I looked back on it, I thought that would be a great career. To just talk to kids, to see how life is going, and if I can help them in any way.”
Sonia Aguilar came to Sonoma County at age six when her family, fleeing the civil war in El Salvador, settled in Petaluma. Sonia became the first person in her family to go to college. A mother of two teenage boys who returned to school at 36, Sonia attributes part of her academic success to the support she received from her counselors at Santa Rosa Junior College, who encouraged her to complete her courses and transfer to her dream school, UC Berkeley. She graduated from Berkeley in 2018 with a bachelor’s in history and English. In 2022, Sonia graduated with her master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of San Francisco’s Santa Rosa campus. In her third year of the program, she did a traineeship with Sonoma County Behavioral Services conducting mental health assessments and connecting individuals to needed services and resources. In September 2022, she started full-time employment as a clinician at Kaiser.
Eylin Blake was born and raised in Peru, moving to Sonoma County in the early 2000s. In 2020, she graduated from USF Santa Rosa with a master’s in counseling psychology and today works as a mental health clinician at Alternative Family Services, an agency that supports vulnerable families and children in the adoption process and the foster care system. Her work involves home visits where she offers therapy to kids ages 10 to 17 and provides psychoeducation to their families. Some of her clients suffer from developmental trauma, attachment and oppositional defiant disorders, anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities, and they require face-to-face therapy sessions, which she holds in their homes, community centers, or parks. Prior to joining the agency, Eylin worked with elementary-school children at the Mark West School District, where she did her traineeship and where many students were greatly impacted by the 2017 Tubbs Fire.
Daisy Cardenas received her master’s degree in counseling psychology from USF Santa Rosa in 2022, and today works in Healdsburg and Cloverdale as a bilingual, bicultural therapist with On the Margins. In addition, Daisy serves as program coordinator for Santa Rosa Junior College’s HOPE program, which provides support to first-generation, low-income students pursuing careers in healthcare. The eldest of five children, Daisy is the first in her family to go to college, earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Sonoma State University in 2018. While still in graduate school, Daisy did her traineeship as a bilingual clinician at Side by Side, serving at-risk youth and their families. She has also worked at Latino Service Providers and Latino Health Forum, and in 2021 joined the Healthcare Foundation’s Board of Directors. Raised in a Spanish-speaking immigrant community in Richmond, California, Daisy says she saw firsthand the impacts of mental health stigma and the need for bilingual and bicultural primary and mental healthcare providers.
received her master’s degree in May 2022 from the University of San Francisco’s counseling psychology program. She did her third-year traineeship at Side By Side, where she worked with at-risk youth ages 8 to 18 at the nonprofit’s Santa Rosa site. Since graduating she has been hired as a full-time clinician at Side By Side, providing mental health services and other resources to youth and families, and is also working with Corazón Healdsburg. Cesia says one of the things that draws her to Side By Side is its work with immigrant children. As someone who emigrated to the United States from El Salvador when she was 13 years old, Cesia understands the challenges many immigrant children face. The first in her family to earn a graduate degree, Cesia hopes that as a bilingual and bicultural clinician she can offer her clients “a little more support, guidance, and healing in the language they feel most comfortable with.”
Eloisa Masror received her master’s degree from USF Santa Rosa in May 2022. Her third-year traineeship was with YWCA Sonoma County, where she works today helping survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence. Prior to pursuing a counseling career, Eloísa spent 15 years as a journalist, covering education, government, and the Latinx and immigrant communities. Working for Santa Rosa’s Press Democrat, she and her colleagues received a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the 2017 wildfires. As a journalist, Eloísa learned how to approach people in an empathetic, compassionate manner and sit with them in their discomfort and pain, skills she has built on as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT). The first in her family to attend college, Eloísa grew up in an immigrant community in Southern California, the daughter of parents from Mexico. There she saw firsthand the daily hardships immigrant families endured, such as discrimination, fears of deportation, low wages, and poverty. “I want to do more to help the Latinx community and those impacted by violence, natural disasters, and other traumas,” she says. “That’s why I decided to hang up my press badge and return to school to earn a master’s in counseling psychology.”
Yadira Esparza, born and raised in Santa Rosa, is the first in her family to earn a graduate degree, receiving her master’s in counseling psychology from the University of San Francisco in 2021. Due to the pandemic, there was no in-person commencement ceremony so Yadira, accompanied by her mother and sister, did the next best thing: She walked down Sebastopol Road in her Roseland community in her cap and gown, carrying a sign that read “Para Mis Padres. #Master’sDegree.” (“You should have heard the amount of honking,” she says.) Yadira did her third-year traineeship at Santa Rosa City Schools, working primarily with elementary school students and their families, many of whom were Spanish-speaking Sonoma County residents already experiencing higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges due to the recent wildfires and flooding before the COVID-19 outbreak. After graduating, Yadira accepted a job at Roseland Unified School District as a school-based bilingual, bicultural therapist. Before that, she spent six years at the Family Justice Center Sonoma County working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder and child abuse. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Yadira says her parents and heritage taught her about resilience and encouraged her to pursue a counseling career. “My family’s struggles motivated me to become a therapist to help [immigrants],” she says, “to walk alongside their healing journey and help them tell their story.”
Claudia Caballero Gonzalez
Claudia Caballero Gonzalez graduated in 2021 with a master’s in counseling psychology from USF Santa Rosa and is now an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist for Santa Rosa City Schools, the largest school district in Sonoma County and the site of her third-year traineeship. During her traineeship, Claudia primarily worked with elementary school children, many of whom came from low-income Latinx and Spanish-speaking households. She also worked with middle school students through referrals from the Integrated Wellness Center, which the school district opened to support families impacted by the 2017 wildfires. The Wellness Center has provided emotional and mental health support to students, families, and staff members throughout the pandemic. The eldest of four girls, Claudia is the first in her family to graduate from college. She was born and raised in Santa Rosa, though she also spent time living in Lake County. As a child, her family opened their home to many foster children. Claudia says she has always wanted to help those around her and that led her to a career in counseling. “I was following my passion of wanting to help,” she says, “and that led me to where I want to be.”
Nallely Ramirez is a first generation Oaxaqueña who was born and raised in Sonoma County. She earned her B.A. in Latin American and Latino Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has worked as a Bilingual Family Advocate with the YWCA of Sonoma County and as a Domestic Violence Navigator at the Family Justice Center, supporting victims of domestic violence, elder abuse, sexual assault, and child abuse. She currently works at Legal Aid of Sonoma County. Her work experience has reinforced a commitment to gain the tools to provide community-based therapy made accessible in Spanish. In 2021, Nallely entered the graduate program at USF Santa Rosa to pursue her master’s in counseling psychology. Building on her background in trauma-informed services, Nallely hopes to one day become certified as a clinical trauma professional, and to continue serving the Latinx community by providing culturally competent and affordable services in a community-based clinic.
Stephanie Malagon was born and raised in Cloverdale. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of San Francisco and is currently a Behavior Therapist for Kyo Autism Therapy. In 2021, she entered the graduate program in counseling psychology at USF Santa Rosa to pursue a master’s degree and become a Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT). Stephanie says she was immediately impressed by the class size as well as the cohort model at USF Santa Rosa. She also appreciates the fact that classes meet in the evenings some days per week, allowing her to continue working while pursuing her degree. “The Healthcare Foundation has made a huge difference in my studies,” adds Stephanie. “I wouldn’t have been able to afford the program without their support.” In her free time, Stephanie enjoys going on walks and hikes as well as time spent with her chihuahua, Mia.
Laura Rodriguez entered the graduate program in counseling psychology at USF Santa Rosa in 2021. Laura was born and raised in Sonoma County, the daughter of farm workers and immigrants from Mexico. Although her mother did not have the benefit of a formal education, she instilled the value of an education in her three children. Laura developed an interest in psychology while working with elementary school children as a physical education teacher and graduated with a B.A. in psychology from CSU Monterey Bay. She was passionately devoted to working with at-risk youth at Seneca’s COMPASS program. Its closure due to lack of funding made her realize how underserved this population is and how under-valued mental health remains in our society. She currently works at Anova, a school for children with autism and other special needs, and she is pursuing her master’s degree at USF as part of her commitment to “making the difference I’d like to see in my community.”
Sergio Aguirre graduated from Humboldt State University in May 2019 with his master’s in counseling psychology and for two years worked in the Windsor School District through SOS Community Counseling. As someone whose parents did not speak much English, Sergio says he understands the value of having bilingual counselors and is passionate about serving the Latinx student population and their families through academic, social and emotional challenges.
Claudia Hernandez was part of the first cohort of Mental Health Talent Pipeline students, graduating in 2020 from Sonoma State University. She grew up in Los Angeles, the child of immigrants from Mexico, and relocated to Sonoma County to pursue her master’s in counseling psychology. She completed her traineeship at SOS Community Counseling at Windsor High School. Claudia is passionate about reducing the stigma around mental health and mental health care. In Los Angeles, she worked in social services helping people experiencing homelessness. Today, she is a registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist at SOS Community Counseling in Cloverdale, serving a broad clientele from across Sonoma County. “My caseload consists of minors, anyone under the age of 18, all the way up to folks who are 69 years old,” she explains. When asked about how the needs she addresses here compare to what she found working in Los Angeles, Claudia says, “One of the baseline similarities that I’ve noticed is that a lot of people who use substances have some kind of trauma in their lives. That is something I’ve seen consistently across the board, both in L.A. and up here.”
Luigi Valencia is a native of Sonoma County and the son of immigrants. In 2017, he began working through SOS Community Counseling in the Healdsburg and Windsor School District, specializing in at-risk youth and working closely with the local law enforcement via their youth diversion program. Through the juvenile diversion program, Luigi is able to offer young people therapy and community service instead of incarceration in the juvenile detention system. He successfully expanded the program with the school districts to provide the same alternatives to detrimental disciplinary measures such as suspension or expulsion. The success rate of this pilot program has been phenomenal: in an initial 12-month period, 44 of the 46 people that participated in the diversion program had stayed out of the justice system and were proceeding with their lives. “My whole approach is a collaborative community approach,” says Luigi, “supporting the youth from every direction, from teachers, to parents, to administration and the police.”
Emmanuel Galeana immigrated to the United States from Mexico and is the first in his family to pursue a master’s degree. As an immigrant himself, he has first-hand experience of the importance of and need for Latino bilingual and bicultural counselors around northern Sonoma County. Long driven by a desire to help others less fortunate than himself, Emmanuel entered USF’s counseling psychology graduate program in 2022 with a vision of serving the region’s most vulnerable populations as a licensed bilingual and bicultural Marriage and Family Therapist. He also appreciates the program’s emphasis on outreach because it builds on the work he is currently doing.
Jennifer Jaquelin Oseguera Chavez
Jennifer Oseguera Chavez, the daughter of immigrants from Mexico, was raised by a single mother and is the first in her family to attend college. She earned her BA in 2021 from UC Davis with a double major in Spanish and Psychology and a minor in Chicano Studies. She discovered and became fascinated with psychology as a freshman at Santa Rosa Junior College, realizing at the same time how stigma around mental health was negatively inhibiting her own Mexican American and other Latinx communities from accessing care. Jennifer works full-time at Turning Point Community Programs Transitional Support Services in Santa Rosa as a Behavioral Health Associate II, helping diverse dually diagnosed individuals to successfully reintegrate into their communities by focusing on relationships, resilience, and recovery. As a bilingual BHA, she is able to remove cultural and linguistic barriers to mental healthcare for Turning Point’s Latinx clients. Jennifer entered USF Santa Rosa’s master’s program in counseling psychology in 2022.
Adriana Reyes Ramirez
Adriana Reyes Ramirez, a native of Santa Rosa and proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, holds a Psychology degree from UCLA. During her time as a student, she actively engaged with UCLA Jumpstart, a nonprofit dedicated to providing language, literacy, and social-emotional support to preschool children from under-resourced communities.
Transitioning into the role of a Social Media Manager, Adriana gained insights into the mental health field’s representation gaps. This realization fueled her determination to address this disparity. Now, as she embarks on her journey into the counseling psychology program at USF this fall, Adriana eagerly anticipates the opportunity to serve her community and dismantle the mental health stigma prevalent in Latine households.
With a diverse background and a resolute commitment to effecting positive change, Adriana looks forward to synergizing her education, experiences, and passion in her pursuit of bridging the mental health gap and fostering a healthier, more inclusive society.
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“I want to be the friendly and familiar face in the room for my community members. The Spanish-speaking population of Sonoma County should not be excluded from mental health services. The only way to achieve that is if Spanish speakers can speak Spanish with their therapists.”Sophia FloresMental Health Talent Pipeline Student