Roxana Magana Moisa

Interview with Roxana Magana-Moisa, Class of 1992

What work have you done since graduation?

The day before I graduation, I was hired at the Boulder County Safehouse as a bilingual women's counselor. In that position, I worked the crisis line and did individual and group counseling.

Three years ago I was hired as the director of the Safehouse shelter program. Now, I supervise our staff and interns, I give outreach presentations on domestic violence and our services, I collaborate with other agencies in town, I facilitate case review and staff meetings, and I still do some counseling with monolingual Spanish speakers.

Do you find your work fulfilling?

Yes, absolutely. I have an opportunity to address the bigger picture of society and all its "isms" ?heterosexism, sexism, racism, and such. The goal of our work is not only to help women and children in need of safety and support, but to get the message out to society to people see the connections between these "isms" and the violence that's done in our world. We try to get people to look at things like this and to teach them the importance of advocating for others and speaking up in the face of discrimination. I believe that that's what's going to make the world a less violent place.

What stands out for you about your time as a student at Naropa that most prepared you to work with others?

Well, there's always a place for practice in this world that is so fast paced and crazy. A good strong practice is essential to being able to stay clear-headed. I find Tonglen [a particular meditation technique that is included in the program's curriculum] important for dealing with trauma. You have to be able to work with the intensity and let it go. Tonglen practice is good for that.

Also, what stands out is that I learned how to be with people. It sounds like such a simple concept, but really it is a tremendous gift. Basic attendance skills are wonderful to have. I learned how to be with people because I learned how to be with myself. This was a critical aspect of my training at Naropa. It is essential to being productive and helpful to others. In my work supervising others I notice that the people who struggle the most have not learned to be present with themselves.

Is there a particular course you took that influences your work today?

My most memorable class was Group Process. That experience marked the beginning of my awareness about how to be in a group. The training in group dynamics that I got at Naropa transferred to my work at the shelter and gave me a base of experience that I continue to build upon today. Every day, I think about things like this that I learned at Naropa. They come up because they're so relevant to my work. I can speak out against a racist remark or a homophobic remark?and that is essential to the social change we're seeking? because of what I began to learn at Naropa.

Do you have any words of wisdom for prospective students?

For starters, be aware of when you're breathing and when you're not. This is such a simple thing, but it's really powerful.

One thing that I want people to know is that the training in the MA Contemplative Psychotherapy program may not always be what you would get at other schools, but what you learn at Naropa is just as important and maybe even more important. You can read a book anywhere, but to know yourself is a very important thing, particularly when you're working with others. Learning is a lifelong process. The opportunity to get to know yourself is priceless.

I have nearly completed another master's program in counseling education, a degree that I wanted to earn so that I could work in the schools. My experience at this other program is that it doesn't spend nearly as much time helping students to look at their own issues. It may offer some class work for this purpose, but not nearly to the degree that Naropa does. That's where contemplative training stands out. I don't think you can get training like that training anywhere else. What Naropa offers really is special. I decided on Naropa because I wanted more than a degree. I wanted something for me.

Anything else you would like to add?

I think it might be interesting to add that as a native of El Salvador, Central America, I found Naropa to be welcoming to students from other countries and backgrounds.

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