Gabriella Gaus Hinojosa ’19 was a summer 2017 intern at ALUBA in Buenos Aires. As a UW-Madison undergraduate, she majored in Psychology and Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies with a certificate in Chican@ & Latin@ Studies. Gabriella is now a second year PhD student in Counseling Psychology at UW-Madison.
After some years to reflect, what were some highlights or key takeaways from your IIP internship?
Growing up in Latin America and then being part of the Latinx diaspora here in Wisconsin, I know firsthand how Latinx folks often rely on their communities and their families first before seeking support from medical professionals as a last resort. [At my internship], I got to see how ALUBA incorporates the participation of family and friends in its patients’ multi-family group therapy. Parents, friends, and caregivers would meet once a week to discuss the loved one’s progress, exchange advice on how to adhere to treatment protocol, and debrief on their households’ adjustment to treatment regulations. I was able to see first-hand how a systems-based treatment approach is formally institutionalized and builds on Latinx cultural coping strengths such as making healing a communal experience – that was powerful!
I went on my IIP internship 6 months or so after declaring the psychology major, so I had just started dipping my toes into what I could do professionally given my interest in mental health and wellness. By spending weeks observing and working with other clinicians, my experience at ALUBA helped me confirm that not only could I see myself being a therapist but that clinical work was exciting to me!
How did you end up where you are now?
With the support of two incredible Latinx women PhD students at UW, my family, and my community, after ALUBA I put my passion to work and delved deeper into local community-based clinical experiences in Madison and global mental health research opportunities in Latin America. Now I am a second year PhD student in Counseling Psychology here at UW-Madison, learning how to be both a researcher and a clinician!
Is there any particular skill you gained from your internship that you think helped you get a job after? If so, what?
I grew up in a bilingual household [but] most of my formal education and training has been in English. Using my Spanish in clinical, research, and professional settings at ALUBA helped me ease my own insecurities about being able to navigate those spaces strictly in Spanish and also advocate for other bilingual students like me pursuing careers in mental healthcare. Today, as a Mental Health Equity Fellow, my job is to do research about bilingual therapy and the training of bilingual mental health providers. My advisor Dr. Stephen Quintana and mentor Dr. Alyssa Ramirez-Stege and I are working closely with staff at Centro Hispano, the largest Latinx-serving non-profit in Dane County, to establish a community-based bilingual training certificate program at UW to help address mental health disparities for Dane County Spanish-speaking residents.
Why should undergraduates consider interning abroad?
We live in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world. If you have the financial means and support, [interning abroad] can help you re-imagine what norms we take for granted here in the United States and hopefully expose you to folks with different worldviews who will push you to challenge your own and prepare you to feel more comfortable and confident when engaging with differences in culture, opinion, and language. Our world needs more bridge-builders!
Mentally prepare yourself for discomfort and unfamiliarity. Because I grew up in Ecuador, had met and interacted with many Latinx folks living in Wisconsin, and studied the history and culture of the Southern Cone, I went to Argentina presuming it would feel familiar or that I would feel “at home” and that was far from the reality. Argentina was a humble reminder to me that no matter how much the U.S. groups Latinos into one kind of “Latinidad”, that identity fails in many ways to capture the enormous diversity of experience and nationalities Latin America has to offer. It was shocking at times but I loved being reminded of that.
What advice would you give to students returning from abroad, including how to use their experience to enhance their professional growth?
Build off of the passion and momentum you gained from your experience, extend gratitude and acknowledgement to the folks who taught you and supported you abroad, and stay connected with the people you met.
Is there any custom, food, tradition from your host country that you still enjoy now?
Eating dinner very late at night, dancing to cumbias from the Southern cone, and drinking the occasional mate!
In honor of the International Internship Program’s 10th Anniversary, we will be bringing you profiles of IIP alumni who have interned all over the world! Find more alumni profiles here.