Crystal Alvarado is a first-year student in Trinity’s Master of Arts in School Psychology program. She obtained her Associate in Arts for Education at Northwest Vista and her Bachelors of Arts in Spanish at UTSA. We sat down with her to discuss her experience in the program so far.
Q: Why did you decide to study school psychology?
A: Funny story, my original plan in life was to become a Psychologist. That is why I started my undergrad at A&M Corpus Christi. That first year wasn't the best, so I decided to return to San Antonio and transfer to UTSA. I've always loved to help and to teach others, so I changed my major to Spanish and focused on education. Along the way of getting my BA, my desire to become a teacher actually changed. In my undergrad Educational Psychology class, I fell in love with the brain again: trying to make the connections as to why we are the way we are, how we learn, internal vs external issues, and just really make a difference in someone's life. That professor was the one who suggested that I would be great as a School Psychologist. That class relit the spark I once had when I was at A&M Corpus Christi. After I graduated from UTSA , I was going to go back to school, but at that particular time in life, my youngest daughter, Luna, was 5 and I could not afford to go back. So I let that dream go until it was time again. It took me almost 10 years, but I am finally doing it.
Q: What drew you to pursuing this program?
A: One of my friends, who graduated from Trinity years ago and is currently a school psychologist, told me about her experience here and how amazing the professors and program were. That was all the convincing I needed to apply. The small classes were a big plus for me, I prefer having that 1 on 1 attention.
Q: What do you like about the field you are studying?
A: As a Hispanic, I want to give back to my community by offering my help in an area that is still seen as taboo. The opportunity to be able to use what I learn at Trinity to make a difference not only in the kids' lives but the parents' as well is something I look forward to.
Q: What is a helpful skill for this field?
A: Be a Gumby. Learn to be flexible like him, not only in school but in life as well. Not everything will ever go your way; learn to be flexible and have a backup plan to your backup plan. Don't get caught up in trying to learn everything, try to enjoy the ride and make the best of every situation. This is hard, trust me, but this will help in the long run: especially for your mental health.
Q: In this program, all students have a mentor in the year above them. Describe your mentorship experience.
A: Honestly, I love the mentorship experience here. I really love the fact that if I have any questions or concerns about any of my classes I can reach out to them via text, email, or in person. They are always willing to help. I know we can technically reach out to the professors as well, but I personally feel more comfortable reaching out to my mentor. The great thing is that it doesn't only have to be my mentor. In my case, I've reached out several times to the second-year cohorts and they have all been super helpful and amazing to me. I hope to be as awesome to the next group that comes in.
Q: Do you have any advice for anyone considering the Master in School Psychology program?
A: My advice for anyone interested in getting their Master in School Psychology would be to do the research and try to shadow a professional if possible. Most of the time people have an idea what something will be like until they actually do it. They can either love it or hate but you at least know if the choice you are making is the right one for you. For me, this time around, I know I made the right choice.