Jackie Paiz ’20 is majoring in psychology and Spanish because she wants to pursue a career providing psychological care to those who may be affected by trauma, neglect, or violence in Latin America.
“Right now, I’m in a Rhodes counseling class and am learning skills that will help me be an advocate for mental health awareness, especially in the Latin American and Latinx communities,” says Paiz. “Mental health issues aren’t often talked about in these communities. In older generations, for example, depression and anxiety are seen as something you just have to get over. I want to be someone who can help an older family member, an adolescent, or a child know how to confront their feelings and learn from them.”
A first-generation college student, Paiz plans to join the ranks of Spanish-speaking psychologists, who, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), are in demand as the U.S. Hispanic population increases. Paiz says that practitioners with additional language skills can better serve Spanish-speaking clients and other people of color, who sometimes don’t get the counseling they need because of language and cultural barriers. A 2015 APA survey reported that only 5.5 percent of psychologists said they can provide services in Spanish, making them a rare commodity.
Paiz is a research assistant of Dr. Tyler Lefevor in Rhodes’ psychology department. “He basically does everything I want to do. He speaks Spanish while treating people and does research, counseling, and teaching. He is one of my biggest role models to this day, and he pushes his students to be the best they can be,” says Paiz. “Rhodes is such a good place for me, and I’m happy that I found it. With the liberal arts education, I've been able to mesh everything that I like, and everyone here has been so supportive.”
Paiz was introduced to Prevent Child Abuse America while participating in her sorority Kappa Delta’s philanthropic efforts at Rhodes. The organization works to ensure the healthy development of children and is based in Chicago, Paiz’s hometown. Paiz spent the summer interning with the organization, and she conducted research related to children who have been separated from their families at the southern U.S. border. “I got to listen in on calls about the border situation and on calls from national coalitions on how to prevent child abuse,” says Paiz.