Hounds with Purpose is a space for alumni to share their stories of purpose and vocational engagement beyond their years at Assumption. This blog is created by the Center for Purpose and Vocation and the Career Development and Internship Center (CDIC) to better connect students and alumni through experiential storytelling.
“Let Your Intuition Lead the Way”
By: Gaby Martinez ’19
On Wednesday, October 21st, 2020, I realized exactly who I am and where I am meant to be; fulfilling my life’s purpose. How did I get here?
Ever since I can remember, I have always felt passionately about helping others. Empathy has always felt innate to me.
During my senior year in high school, I took an AP Psychology class. This was when I first started to fall in love with learning why people are the way that they are. The more I understand them, the more I can help them. In this class we learned about mental health such as, anxiety, mood, personality, and psychotic disorders. I found it fascinating learning about all of these complexed mental factors to the point that I wanted to know all there was to know about them. What leads someone to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder? What did they experience? What is their developmental history? Did they experience a traumatic event? Is it genetic? Is it nature or nurture? I had so many questions and truly never felt so passionate about a class in school before.
Although this class revolved around clinical diagnosable disorders, I could relate to some of the mental processes and behaviors that human beings with mental health disorders experience. This is the first time I opened my mind to the topic of mental health. It still shocks me to this day that mental health was never a part of the daily curriculum while I was in grade school.
A couple of weeks into the course, my AP Psychology teacher introduced an incredible opportunity to our class. She told us about a mission trip that our high school was offering. A group of 20 seniors were going to be selected to travel to an orphanage in Managua, Nicaragua over spring break to work with children and adults with disabilities. I sent in my application that day.
That week in Nicaragua changed my life. During my time serving at Hogar Belen Diriamba, I discovered that I wanted to go to college and further my education in Psychology. Although I didn’t know any details at the time, I did know I wanted to work with kids who weren’t as fortunate as I was. I wanted to be one of people who assures every child knows that they are special, loved, and enough; regardless of what disability, trauma, or mental health struggles they endure.
My decision to attend Assumption College will always be one of my proudest moments. I followed my intuition and took Introduction to Human Services and Psychology 101 during my freshman year. Not only did I continue to fall in love with the course content as I did in AP Psychology in high school, but I also fell in love with my professors at Assumption. Although I have loved every professor in my major, Professor Paula Fitzpatrick was the one that changed my life.
I took Positive Psychology with Prof. Fitzpatrick during my junior year at Assumption and I will never forget it. The entire course revolved around how to live a positive and ultimately, happy life. We discussed many studies performed on what practices lead human beings to live a positive, and fulfilling life. These practices included meditation, mindfulness, dancing, practicing gratitude and affirmations, positive self-talk, helping others, and fostering positive relationships. This is the semester that I began implementing these practices into my own personal life and watched my mental health soar like never before. Prof. Fitzpatrick told our class that she wished she had learned these concepts earlier in life so that she could have taken advantage of the opportunities to live a more purposeful life earlier on. When she said that, I thought, “Me too.” I wish I had learned these interventions and strategies even earlier in life as well. This is the moment I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
After I graduated from Assumption in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Services & Rehabilitation Studies and Psychology, I started the School Counseling Graduate Program here at Assumption a month later. I enjoyed my undergraduate experience at Assumption so much that I decided I wanted to pursue my Master’s there as well. My undergraduate experience was rich with valuable internship experience, supportive professors, and challenging coursework that made proud to be able to chose Assumption once again.
I am currently completing my clinical practicum in school adjustment counseling at Woodland Elementary school in Milford. In this internship, I teach Social Emotional Learning to grades 3-5, meet with students individually to implement interventions, and observe school adjustment counselors in various meetings. This experience is transforming me into the professional that I have always dreamed of being.
October 21st, 2020.
What was so special about this day here at Woodland?
On this day, I logged onto Zoom as I have been doing everyday of the pandemic, and awaited my 22 third graders to join the waiting room. I am their social emotional learning (SEL) teacher. “Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” (Durlak et al., 2011; Greenberg et al., 2003)
At the end of class, I always end with a “repeat after me” exercise. This allows the students to practice affirmations. This practice fosters a more positive attitude towards oneself and others. Affirmations have been proven to improve self-efficacy, confidence, self-esteem, empathy, and connection to oneself, peers, and adults. First, I say an affirmation, and then the students repeat that affirmation. I began….
I am kind.
I am smart.
I am brave.
I am important.
I am loved.
I can do anything.
Something happened on that day that made me realized just how remarkable it was to listen to each and every 8-year-old on Zoom, confidently and enthusiastically, repeating these affirmations; These were things I never believed about myself until my 20’s. And in that moment, I realized, I am doing exactly what I am meant to do. I am being the person that I needed when I was younger. I am teaching mental health habits to elementary school children- in hopes that they will continue these practices throughout their lives.
One day, you will wake up and you will think it is another ordinary day. You will participate in a series of moments that are all strung together to create the day. It will feel mundane. Then all of a sudden, it will happen quietly; without you being prepared. You will stop in your tracks. You will be mindful in the present moment. You will realize that you are doing it; you are fulfilling your purpose. You will think, “This is why.” This is why I exist; this is why I am here.
You are always exactly where you are meant to be at all times. Let go and trust in each moment. You already know what is for you and what is not. You already know what you are meant to do and be. Let your intuition be your guide. You are never lost, but always growing. Most importantly, you are here for a reason and one day, that reason will ache to be known.
By: Gaby Martinez ’19
Edited by: Esteban Loustaunau & Sydney Huckabee