Hello! My name is Cristal Campocasso, and I am from Caracas, Venezuela. I moved to Miami, FL when I was 9 years old with my mother, father, and brother due to a political and humanitarian crisis in my home country. I moved to St. Charles, MO for college after obtaining a scholarship from Lindenwood University’s synchronized (artistic) swimming team. My freshman year I was majoring in Psychology, with a focus on pre-law as my goal was to go to law school after undergraduate school. After my freshman year, I realized that my real passion was psychology, so I decided to drop my focus on pre-law and continue with my major in Psychology while also working towards minors in Sociology and Spanish. During my undergraduate time at Lindenwood, I also worked as a Spanish tutor and as a Registered Behavior Technician. I graduated with my bachelor’s in arts in three and a half years.
After graduation, I decided to move back home to Miami, FL to work in my field as a group therapist to gain experience before starting graduate school. To be a mental health therapist, which was my goal from early on in college, I knew I had to pursue a graduate degree. After a lot of research on what type of program would work best for me, I decided to pursue a Social Work master’s degree at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). During my first year at SIUE I applied and obtained the Competitive Graduate Award, which allowed me to work with a professor in the social work department on analyzing data for the Madison County Child Advocacy Center to identify trends over a certain period of time for children who had been abused.
During my second year at SIUE I became a Graduate Assistant (GA) for the STEM center where I have had the opportunity to use my passion for working with underrepresented populations and empowering adolescents through education. At the STEM Center I have been tasked with leading an after-school program called Teen Science Café where students learn about science topics, learn leadership skills, and interact with scientists. I also work at the STEM center as one of the lead GA’s for the GEOPATHS program, where undergraduate students obtain career development experiences, research opportunities, field trips, and internships. Lastly, during my time at SIUE I have also had the opportunity to complete my practicum and part-time job at Hoyleton Youth and Family Services where I provide bilingual individual-and-family mental health services to children, adolescent’s, and adults, along with case management services.
All photos provided by Cristal Campocasso