Alumni Spotlight

Aiina De Triana

B.A. in Ethnic Studies, 2005

Patricia Shen

What are you doing now? How has Ethnic Studies prepared you for this career?

At this moment I work as a Forensic/Psychiatric Social Worker in the Washington DC metro Area, and as a Family Therapist Contractor for an adolescent court ordered program in Virginia.  I also provide clinical supervision to people who are working towards their Social Work Clinical License.

The Ethnics Studies program assisted me on understanding the importance of race relations, and the many inequalities that exist in our communities, society and the world.  The knowledge I obtained through the Ethnic Studies Department has given me the passion to treat every individual I serve with dignity and respect and to advocate for the many issues they experience. Being culturally competent, and my knowledge about race relations, ethnicity, inequality and poverty have broadened my understanding of how to be sensitive to the needs of the patients I work with.  I understand that no matter where they are from, what has been their experience, and socioeconomic status, I will be able to support them.

What was your most impactful Ethnic Studies experience?

My view and understanding of the world totally changed after graduating from the Ethnic Studies Department. Studying about race relations, ethnicity, inequality, epidemiology and social justice had a huge impact on me.  Dr. Yen Espiritu, and Dr. David Pellow were among some of the professors in the department that made the program extremely enjoyable.  I was impressed by the fact that the Ethnic Studies faculty were always ready to provide feedback and to assist students with any type of assignment.  I remember completing the honors program and feeling overwhelming support, a sense of accomplishment, confidence and the feeling that I could do anything I set myself to do. I enjoyed every moment and every class I completed.  There was so much incredible information, and I graduated with the sense that I never wanted to stop learning.  To this day, I use every tool I learned in the Ethnic Studies program with the populations I serve. 

What advice do you have for current Ethnic Studies students and alumni looking for employment?

Be open, challenge and question everything you learn.  The Ethnic Studies Department can equip you with many tools to succeed in this world.  Every class you take has so much information that is useful for our current multicultural society and changing world.  Without the teachings of the Ethnic Studies Department I would have never known how to relate to the people I serve, and to understand their stories, perspective and backgrounds.  One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Forest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.”  To me the Ethnic Studies Department was like that, I never knew what I was going to get, but the teachings from the department have taken me places that I never knew I was going experience.  Much less that I was going to use everything I learned through the Ethnic Studies Department in my daily life.  In the employment setting you are going to be so valuable because the level of understanding and critical thinking you are bringing is incomparable with any other program of study.  Good luck, and be ready to be a proud Ethnic Studies Alumni.