Cynthia Garza, a doctoral candidate at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, is an academic fellow at our Center of Multicultural and Diversity Studies (CMDS). As part of a project with CMDS, "Incorporating Cultural Traditions with Healing Practice", she is developing programming that seeks to create therapy that is culturally sensitive and inclusive. She also dedicated four years of service as a mentor, peer supervisor and eventually a coordinator with West Rogers Park Afterschool Program, a community organization that runs The Brooks After-School Socio-Emotional Program which aims to aims to heighten socio-emotional, behavioral, and academic functioning in children grades K-5. Cynthia's doctoral research focuses on anti-oppressive education models and she has established herself as an active and passionate member of our campus community.
My civic involvement has come about because I align my personal growth with my professional life. I study empowerment therapies as a part of my own journey towards self-liberation. I research systemic oppressive educational systems to better understand the obstacles I have to break down as a minority student. I believe that when we heal, it is possible to heal for and with each other. I also believe that healing can happen in as many ways and in many places such as outpatient rehab since we are different, and we should give people back their right to heal and grow the way they want to. I believe this act is liberating and inclusive for our diverse society. I am now creating a treatment manual for therapists interested in "Incorporating cultural traditions with healing practice." Currently, I run Healthy Living groups on the southside of Chicago, where as a group, we explore healthy versions of our favorite Southern cooking dishes. In my Tai Chi groups with incarcerated drug offenders, we learn how to balance our impulses with control as we embrace the healing benefits of a Chinese tradition. Working inclusively has led me to feel like I belong in the leadership role I find myself in today.