Who are you?
My name is Sergio Quirarte and I am an Marriage and Family Therapist Intern (MFTI). I received my MS in Counseling from CSUF and am now working as mental health therapist in a community agency in East Los Angeles. I am also a part-time faculty member in the Human Services Dept at California State University, Fullerton. I am the son of Mexican immigrants and the first male in my family to receive a college degree.
What field are you in and what attracted you to that field?
I am a mental health therapist in East Los Angeles. I work in an integrated care program. What that means is that I work with a team which integrates both physical health and mental health treatment. I was attracted to working in the mental health field following my experiences working in an after school program in a low SES area. It was at this time that I recognized the need for support and services in under-served communities. Ever since then, it has been my passion to actively work toward improving communities in need by supporting families and individuals. Most importantly, my observations of the stigma of mental health services within the Latino community has motivated me to reach out and work with these individuals with whom I feel a strong cultural connection.
How do you hope to use your master’s degree to improve the health of your community?
I believe that my training in the MS Counseling program helped me develop strong counseling skills that I utilize every single day in my work with clients. I hope to utilize my degree and my skills to help improve the quality of life of individuals and families within my community and all communities that are in need of services and support. Furthermore, I believe that, through my work, I can actively work toward reducing the stigma of mental health services in the Latino community. My degree gives me the opportunity to work with Latino families and be a supportive figure in the community.
What is a resource or advice you wish you had before starting your master’s program?
I wish that prior to starting my Master's program, I could have been advised to seek mentors within the communities I feel connected to. Since my time in the MS Counseling program, I have connected with other Latino male therapists who are well established in the field. The guidance and support from individuals which I can identify with has helped me immensely through this process and I wish that I could have had this support sooner.