CAPS Hispanic, Latino liaison aims to build connections with students, within Alianza

Jeanne Kuang, Development and Recruitment Editor

New Counseling and Psychological Services counselor Rosemary Magana began working at Northwestern last week and said she hopes to develop a strong connection with Hispanic and Latino students through her position.

Magana, a licensed clinical counselor, started working at CAPS on April 7 as the department’s third new hire. She is serving as both a staff counselor and a CAPS Hispanic and Latino student liaison. The position has been open since May 2013 when CAPS received special funding to create it.

Magana said she has already met with members of NU’s Hispanic and Latino community and plans to communicate with the students involved.

“I am of course another clinician here who is going to be seeing all types of students as well as have that focus into Latino students and be able to do that outreach to that community,” she said.

Before coming to NU, Magana worked as the coordinator of counseling services at Columbia College Chicago where she counseled students individually and ran workshops and consultation with members of the school’s staff in departments including Residence Life and Multicultural Affairs. 

Previously, Magana also worked at the Chicago nonprofit UCAN. There, she provided therapy for individuals, couples and families and held counseling sessions and home visitations for struggling middle and high school students in Chicago’s Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods.

Much of her therapy work has been in both English and Spanish, she said.

At UCAN, she helped train the staff to provide more “culturally competent” services, including better understanding of cultural differences and printing brochures in Spanish. Magana said she has “attended quite a few different trainings for Latino mental health.”

Before Magana applied to the CAPS position last month, she said she had not been looking for a new job.

“Someone forwarded this position to me,” Magana said. “Once I saw this position listed and what it would entail, I immediately fell in love and thought, ‘I need to apply for this position.’”

She said her interview process included visiting campus for a day to present one of her past cases to CAPS and meet with Alejandro Magana, director of Hispanic/Latino Student Affairs at NU.

“He asked me a few questions as well, so I really thought that was great that they were going to incorporate that part into the interview,” she said.

Magana said she has ideas for workshops directed at Hispanic and Latino students, but she sees her plans as “more of a collaboration” among herself, Alejandro Magana and Alianza, NU’s Hispanic/Latino student alliance. She said she wants to get a better sense of the campus culture before implementing any of her ideas.

“I want to work really closely with Alejandro and listen to students, maybe meet with them, get to know them and have them get to know me,” she said. “If I’m trying to be the liaison for Latino students, they need to be able to see my face.”

Magana attended an Alianza meeting on Sunday and said she noticed students discussing the issue of identity.

“Something I’ve done before is I’ve developed a workshop for identity (for high school students), talking about what it is to be a Latina, Latino, what it means to you,” she said. “I have a huge passion in that. I love talking about that. That might be something that comes up.”

Medill freshman Karina Myrtil, Alianza’s media and marketing director, said she hopes Magana’s anticipated presence in Alianza activities will make Hispanic and Latino students feel more comfortable in seeking out mental health services.

“I think that it is a needed position just because I think a lot of minority students don’t necessarily even feel comfortable to talk to a person who isn’t of their race or ethnicity,” Myrtil said. “It’s nice to have a person that we can relate to.”

Magana said one of her goals for her new position is to create a stronger bond with the Hispanic and Latino student community.

“I just need to be there. It doesn’t mean I need play a huge role. Maybe I’m just there so they know that I care or that I’m interested in becoming part of this community,” she said. “Whatever that lack the Latino students are feeling or voicing, of support, I want to develop that so that they can respond and say, ‘Yes, I feel more supported, and yes, I feel comfortable coming here.’”

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