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Professional Advocacy Agent: Ana Guadalupe Reyes
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Professional Advocacy Agent: Ana Guadalupe Reyes

Interviewed by Dr. Isabel Farrell, Leadership & Professional Advocacy Committee Member, Pi Alpha Chapter, Wake Forest University

Ana Guadalupe ReyesAna Guadalupe Reyes, M.S., LPC, NCC, is a doctoral candidate at University of North Texas and past president of the Rho Kappa Chapter. This article highlights Ana’s work in professional and social justice advocacy, the catalysts behind their work, their past and current advocacy efforts, and lessons they have learned as an advocate.

Ana identifies as an advocate and activist and was inspired both by their parents’ activism and by living in diverse and pro-advocacy communities. Ana’s advocacy work started at age 12 when they participated in rallies and volunteered in grassroots organizations with their mother. As an undergraduate student at Tiffin University, Ana joined GLASS (Gay Lesbian and Straight Supporter), a student organization. Noticing GLASS’ campus involvement was low, Ana took charge to revitalize the organization’s presence on campus and supported students who were looking for a place to belong. As a member of GLASS and co-founder of VOICE (Voicing Our Insight Creating Empowerment), Ana organized educational sessions, fundraisers, and rallies against human trafficking.

While completing their undergraduate degree, Ana developed a passion for counseling and dedicated their masters’ practicum and internship experience at Marymount University to serve underrepresented populations. During their masters’ experience, Ana noticed that advocacy action among their peers was lacking. They wondered if the lack of training on advocacy caused the limited peer involvement. Thus, Ana moved to Texas to complete a doctoral degree in counselor education and supervision at the University of North Texas with the hope they can train future generations of counselors who also identify as advocates and activists.

While in Texas, Ana saw an opportunity to become involved in Movimiento Cosecha, a grassroots movement fighting for the permanent protection, dignity, and respect for all immigrants. Within this movement, Ana assists in the facilitation of Educate the Educator workshops. They teach community members and school employees about mental health considerations for immigrant children and their families. Ana also helps immigrant families with preparedness planning in case of a family member’s detention and/or deportation. As president of the Rho Kappa chapter, Ana collaborated with UNT’s Counselors for Social Justice to organize Advocacy Days in conjunction with the Texas Counseling Association. During the Advocacy Days, students met with their state representatives and discussed issues that impact the community and counseling profession. Ana disclosed that perhaps their biggest current advocacy project is their dissertation, a participatory action research project aimed to understand how queer womxn of color experience microaggressions as counseling clients.

As Ana discussed their dedicated work to community empowerment and safety for marginalized populations, they identified willingness to learn, adapt, and take risks as assets for success. They also highlighted the importance of collaboration and partnerships with other organizations, community, counselors, and other disciplines. Programs and counseling organizations must provide opportunities for advocacy action and space where counselors can share advocacy opportunities. Ana suggested that for those interested in advocacy work, they could pick one or two issues that they are passionate about and dedicate one or two hours a week towards focused advocacy action.

As their final thoughts, Ana shared, “I believe as counselors, it is our duty to really reflect on what is our responsibility and what is our duty with capital [D].” Ana added that counselors should contemplate about what kind of impact they wish to make in their communities stating that advocacy requires self-awareness, continued education, and constant growth, it is a personal journey and choice.

 

Originally posted July 6, 2020 at csi-net.org.