Washington, D.C. native Marylin Beckley, M.A. recalls growing up seeing members of her El Salvadoran family and Central American community struggle with trauma, with little or no help to deal with it. She knew then that she would work in mental health to help Latino communities.
“I observed the effects of trauma in family members and church members who experienced civil war and community violence. Mental health resources were scarce to the Latinx population and the resources that were available were limited due to language and cultural competency. This deterred many individuals that I knew from receiving assistance. As a result, I want to be that change.”
A second year student in the International Psychology Program, the determined Marylin has already achieved her childhood goal. Five months ago, she obtained the position of Aftercare Specialist for the Latin American Region at International Justice Mission (IJM), an NGO that works internationally to protect the poor from violence and slavery.
“I truly love and enjoy my position,” she says. “I am the mental health specialist for our offices located in El Salvador, Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru and Dominican Republic. I formulate strategies and training for mental health services focusing on trauma, trauma-informed care and restoration. In El Salvador, Guatemala, Bolivia and Peru, l’m responsible for strategies and trainings around violence against women and children. In Dominican Republic, the strategies and trainings are about human trafficking.”
Marylin supports the agency’s mission remotely from its Washington, D.C. headquarters and travels to the countries as well. In the last two and a half months, she’s traveled twice to El Salvador and once to Guatemala. This plus a new baby, school and her work with her clients as a licensed mental health therapist, makes the age-old question of balancing rear its head.
“I practice boundaries so that I can balance work life, home life, and self. I leave work at work and do not take it home. As my team knows, I have a young child and family, and dedicate my time to them when I am home,” she explains. “In my organization (IJM), family comes first. I’m typically in the field for a week. If I leave for a longer period of time, I can travel with my child as long as a member of my family – my mother or my husband – can take care of him.”
Fortune has smiled on Marylin, and she is determined to give back. She chose The Chicago School because of its focus on international mental health, and believes the Washington, D.C. Campus program affords her what she needs to achieve her next goal.
“I hope to escalate within the organization I currently work for. My dream is to work in Latin American countries to assist in establishing mental health programs that promote trauma restoration. My program provides me with the preparedness to continue my work.”