I grew up in Ciudad Juarez in a crime-ridden neighborhood. Gangs and violence were a frequent topic in the mouths of the concerned neighbors; I was 12 years old when I witnessed a young man, no older than 15, rip the eyebrow piercing off another teenager with a pair of pincers; the sole concept of such an act was a shock to me and one question kept repeating itself in my head: What was he thinking? It’s not a morbid curiosity that sparked this question, but rather a desire to understand thoroughly the theories of crime and to be able to apply them in a crime-ridden environment in order to develop a form of therapy that would aid in successfully socializing the criminal mind.
It was during my second year of middle school when I decided that I wanted to study Psychology. I had volunteered to visit a center in Juarez called CREAMAC; this center specializes in rehabilitating and assisting patients with mental illnesses and, despite my eagerness to assist, learn, and participate, I was not prepared to see what I saw that day. The conditions were inhumane and unsanitary; patients were left to themselves and locked up in prison-like cells when the personnel wasn’t around; there was no information on the mental health providers that attended to the patients, and no mention whatsoever of therapy sessions for them. Crime inside the facility was also high, due to inmates either robbing or engaging in physical violence with one another, not to mention sexual harassment and abuse. It was then that I fully decided that my interest in Psychology would not end once I achieved to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.
After I graduated high school, I immediately applied to college in order to start my core curriculum with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. My volunteer work, however, ended once I learned of the curriculum that a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology provided; having thought of Psychology all my life as a first-hand experience with patients, I was not prepared to learn that such degree focused mostly in research. After reading through several articles on the career path of a Clinical Psychologist, I was disenchanted; however, I reminded myself why I had been studying for and, determined, I resolved to experience first-hand a research setting.
After two years of research under a Social Cognition laboratory in which we studied social perspective and inter-group relations and conflict between majority and minority groups, I found out about a Master’s program in Counseling Psychology. It was after episodes of anxiety about my future career path and my own research in what to do for the future that I ended up finding out about this Master’s program. This degree is what will help me reach my goal of working in a prison setting and developing a form of therapy that will prove efficient in halting recidivism in crime, which, in turn, with help rehabilitate criminals in order to reincorporate them into society.
LatPro.com’s scholarship program for Hispanic students is proud to announce Edna Martinez as one of the six finalists for its August 2012 application deadline. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.