Career Spotlight: Mental Health Specialist

Lety GreeneCareer Spotlight

Name: Leticia Greene

Hometown: Veracruz,Mexico

Employer: US Army

Job Title: Mental Health Specialist

What are some of your job responsibilities?
I am primarily responsible for assisting with the management and treatment of inpatient mental health activities, and counsel clients/patients with personal, behavioral or psychological problems.

What is your educational background?
On the Civilian side I have B.A in Advertising and Design that I obtained from the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla.

On the Military side I completed my Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Sam Houston,TX  in Mental Health Specialist, which is my Military Occupational Specialty 68X.

Describe your college experience and how it helped you prepare for your career:
My college experience was one of a kind. I studied in Puebla,Mexico, which was 3 hours away from home,Veracruz; therefore, I ended up moving to Puebla.

The reason why I chose a B.A in Advertising and Design is because my parents own a printing shop. I spent most of my childhood in that place. Actually, my mom told me that since I was 5 months she used to take me to her work. An interest in colors, texture, and design grew rapidly during my childhood. This led to informing my parents that I wanted to do something related to the business, photography and design. This career had it all, a combination of all my interests.

During the summer break of  2007, I had the opportunity to work at a Summer camp in upstate  New York. The fact that I was exposed to different people and cultures made me want to come back for more, and I did. After I graduated from college, I decided to go to New York as an Au Pair for a year, but I ended up staying for 4 years!

During those four years in New York, I studied English as a second language and Conversation and pronunciation courses at the Westchester Community College. When my level of English improved I decided to do something more challenging; for this reason, I did a couple of college courses in Multimedia Programming and Design at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. However, I wasn’t able to graduate because I chose to take advantage of the great opportunity to join the US Army.

My college experience wasn’t all in the classroom. College for me meant living on my own in a different city, different country, facing challenges on my own and mastering a second and a third language. The hardest part of college was being away from my family and friends, but the hard work and perseverance paid off.

How did you find your current job?
When I was in college in NY, a friend, whom had been recently recruited by the U.S. army and with knowledge of my Brazilian Portuguese skills, told me about theMilitary Accessions Vital for the National Interest (MAVNI) program in the US Army. MAVNI is a recruiting program that permits legal non-citizens who posses in-demand skills to join the Army in exchange for expedited U.S citizenship after graduating from ten weeks of Basic Combat Training or accepting a commission as Army Officers.

Luckily for me, a spot for Brazilian Portuguese was open. I took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and the The ACTFL, The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages,Oral Proficiency Interview, or OPI. The OPI is a live, 20-30 minute telephone conversation between a certified ACTFL tester and the candidate. I nailed both of them, I was admitted, and I decided that 68X Mental Health Specialist  was the best option for me.

What did you do to prepare for this career?
I trained in Fort Sam Houston as part of  Advanced Individual Training (AIT) in the US Army. The training consisted of 3 months of classes and physical training and 1 month of clinicals where you are assigned by groups to practice your skills and knowledge at a local hospital.

What do you like the most about your job?
Helping those with invisible wounds and the satisfaction of seeing patients overcoming problems that have interfered in their lives.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Being a Mental Health Specialist is a very mentally-emotionally charged career, where you’ll have to put yourself someone else’s shoes. No matter what, patient care is first; you have to give a 100% every day. You also have to be very attentive because you never know the outcome of a wrong sign with body language, and how the lack of undivided attention to someone can be terminal.

What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
This job is excellent for someone who really enjoys helping  others; someone who has a commitment to find different and creative approaches to help someone who needs to be listened or is having a hard time to communicate his/her needs. A job where you have to remain both compassionate and professional at the same time. However, it is also extremely rewarding when you realize that you actually help someone who probably was on the wrong route.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
When I’m not working I spend time with my new family in El Paso, my husband and my husky. I am a strong believer of dedicating quality time to those who you love and care about you. I love enjoy photography, baking, going to the movies, volunteering and working out.  I’m still working on making friends in El Paso area; it is not easy to make friends when you have different activities going on, but it is important to have a strong primary support group to rely on wherever you are.

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