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Wave-Maker Spotlight: Yajaira, Psychology Major and People Person

by Amanda Medress

Yajaira A. is a people person, which aligns well with her goal of becoming a marriage and family therapist. A graduate of Making Waves Academy and participant in the CAP program, Yajaira is majoring in psychology at Berkeley City College (BCC). She plans to transfer to San Francisco State University in the spring of 2019, and pursue a doctoral degree after she graduates.

For Yajaira, who has four sisters and four brothers, listening comes naturally. “My brother and sister fight and put me in the middle of it,” she says. “I like to analyze them and help them. I want to work with them and help them develop a healthy relationship. That plays a big role into why I want to be a family therapist.”

Her path to becoming a therapist starts with psychology classes. Her first psych class at BCC, however, was more difficult than she expected. “Many terms and concepts I’ve never heard of were holding me back. Keeping up with the professor was a struggle as well,” she says. Yajaira worked with her CAP coach, Ms. Goudy, to overcome her fear of asking questions in class. “I didn’t want to be that one student that would annoy others by constantly asking questions. Ms. Goudy told me that it is good that I ask questions. Now, I’m one of the very few brave souls that raise their hands and make sure they are understanding the concepts being taught.”

Outside of school, Yajaira works at a non-profit organization in Richmond called Urban Tilth. “We help the less fortunate and provide them with a box full of fresh food straight from our farm,” says Yajaira. “Working for Urban Tilth makes me happy. Through Urban Tilth I have learned how to speak with others, which is a major thing for me considering I want to be a therapist.”

Yajaira with her CAP College Coach, Ms. Goudy

Yajaira worked with her CAP coach to prepare for her interview. “The mock interviews I did with Ms. Goudy helped me get the job at Urban Tilth,” Yajaira says. “Ms. Goudy asked me questions and gave me feedback on my answers, such as ‘that’s too vague’ or ‘tell me more.’ At my Urban Tilth interview I was nervous but they asked similar questions, and I knew what to say.”

Working at Urban Tilth keeps Yajaira connected to Richmond. “I am from Richmond. I have lived here all my life,” she says. “When I tell many people that, they look at me with a face of confusion or maybe it’s pity… because to them Richmond is a boring place. I have always made the best of Richmond. I found what makes me happy here.”