Finding Your Missing Piece
Psychology student balances nonprofit experience with graduate school goal
Sunday, June 12, 2022
Web header of headshot of Elsie Duran

Elsie Duran ’21, a psychology major from Managua, Nicaragua, came to Trinity to solve a very specific type of puzzle.

“What I like the most about psychology is being able to sit with a person and fully understand how their actions affect them,” Elsie says. “It’s like being able to pull apart pieces of a puzzle that make up a person.”

Now an alumna, Elsie is applying to graduate programs to pursue her master’s degree so she can become a clinical psychologist. But her interest in psychology isn’t about pulling people apart: it’s about building them up.

This drive is why Elsie has dedicated much of her life so far to nonprofit work and service. Right now, she’s also working with community mentorship program Big Brothers Big Sisters of Texas in San Antonio. At Big Brothers Big Sisters, Elsie works as an outcomes manager, supporting services and performing data interpretation of mentor and mentee surveys that help the “bigs” and “littles” manage their partnerships. She also helps the nonprofit’s alumni program track the progress of youths after they depart the nonprofit.

This line of work is right in line with how Elsie spent her time at Trinity, where it seems there wasn’t a nonprofit or volunteer opportunity she didn’t take.

“I grew up volunteering my whole life. Every single club I was in high school had to have a service portion to it. It was a big influence on me when I came to Trinity,” says Elsie, who went on to join and eventually become president of Trinity University Volunteer Action Community (TUVAC), Trinity’s student-led service organization.

“Being the president of TUVAC was instrumental to learning how a successful organization should be run,” she says. “It essentially prepared me for my current role (at Big Brothers Big Sisters). I hadn’t realized how well connected I became in the SA community by working at TUVAC and going to Trinity.”

Elsie says balancing her psychology major with her nonprofit activity made her time at Trinity “challenging, yet rewarding.”

“I feel like I hadn’t realized how tough Trinity can be,” Elsie says. “It’s a really academically rigorous school.”

But Elsie says that Trinity still ended up being the perfect piece to her puzzle.

“At the same time, working this hard teaches you discipline. But Trinity also has this support system, which I think of as my professors, my friends and tutors. And I enjoyed the fact that I was at a small school, but I also hadn’t really realized how my relationships with all these people have been able to help me [after graduating]. I’m able to reach out to my professors now, and they still know exactly who I am.”

Jeremiah Gerlach is the brand journalist for Trinity University Strategic Communications and Marketing.

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