Monday, November 30 , 2015, 8:52 am | Fair 47º

Antioch University Highlights Graduates Who Overcame the Odds

By Patti Teel and Elizabeth Wolfson for Antioch University |

Antioch University Santa Barbara provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic and environmental justice.

Below, Elizabeth Wolfson, Ph.D., LCSW, chair of Antioch’s MA in Clinical Psychology program, shared inspirational stories about a few of the graduates who overcame the odds and will receive their diploma at 2 p.m. this Friday, June 20. The commencement ceremony will take place in the ballrooms at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort, and the reception will follow in the outdoor rotunda.

One of the graduates came to this country from Mexico and worked in the fields as a child. When she expressed a desire to be educated, her father told her that a woman's place is in the kitchen. Against his wishes, she forged ahead and received a college education, and then fulfilled her dream of going all the way for her doctoral degree.

During her time as a student, family members became ill and there were a number of personal challenges. She ended up exploring the experiences of immigrant farm workers for her dissertation, finding an easeful entry into the interviewing process, as they trusted their stories with her.

Manual Casas of UCSB was her external advisor on her dissertation. He came from a similar background. Her story is a perfect Antioch story involving ethnicity, immigration, gender, and finding purpose and meaning in one's chosen work against all odds.

As a boy, another graduate and his family moved to California while his father remained in Mexico for some time trying to make a living. A brother died of cancer.

The student went into the seminary to become a priest. While there, he discovered an interest in psychology and made the difficult decision to leave the seminary and receive a master's degree in psychology. He came to our program as an MFT and has been a superstar in our program. He has already self-published a book on Latino mental health That is available through Amazon, and he is completing a prestigious internship in the correctional system.

Seeing his growth, his wife was inspired to come to our MACP program as well. His brother is also in Antioch's program.

And yet another student grew up in the South, pre-civil rights — yes, there is a deep story there. I know he is deeply spiritual and also a dedicated teacher of troubled youth. He is also very introverted and has difficulty sharing his story.

And lastly, a mother and daughter are graduating from the BA program together. One immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico as an adult. Both women are single moms. In Mexico, she was an activist, so AUSB was a great fit for her values; she is in the Child Development & Education concentration. The other has worked helping deaf students and their families; she is in the liberal studies concentration and is considering pursuing her teaching credential at AUSB.

— Patti Teel and Elizabeth Wolfson, Ph.D., represent Antioch University Santa Barbara.

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