My Leadership Path
By Dawn-Marie Luna
Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology
On May 19th, I graduated from Pepperdine University with a
Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in
working with Latinx communities as a therapist. During my 2.5
years as a student my time was spent being the best student leader
for my colleagues.
The Aliento Program Students (Back row)
L-R: David Argueta, Stephanie Luviano, Stella
Rosa, Nathaly Chavez, and Brian Clawson.
(Front row) L-R: Dawn-Marie Luna, Bryant
Soto, Jessica Sanchez, Carla Peligrino, and
The reason I chose to immerse myself in
student leadership was to ensure that I would
have an engaging university experience,
to build meaningful relationships with
professors and my peers, to make an impact
on my campus, and to use my voice to
The program I attended is fairly new,
which allows students to hold prominent
leadership roles. Fortunately, the program
director encouraged me to create my own
leadership path that included research
opportunities, teaching assistantships and
My first year I held a chair position with
the Latinx Psychological Student Association.
One of my main tasks with the association
was to inform students about the barriers
many Latinx communities face in this
country and in their homelands and how
that may contribute to their mental health.
My second year, I became a teacher’s
assistant for the Multicultural Psychology
Course. With great pleasure, I assisted the
professor with class activities that allowed
students to critically self-reflect on their
privileges emphasizing how to leverage
those privileges for the betterment of those
who are marginalized. As a research assistant,
I gained experience collecting data that
focused on the impacts of art and the
destigmatization of mental health.
Another area I focused on was informing
the student body about mental health stigma
that exists within many communities that
leads to individuals not seeking out mental
health services. On April 14th, we held a rally
in Laguna Beach, CA to raise awareness
on mental health. Our goal was to spark a
conversation with locals about mental
Pepperdine Mental Health Advocacy Class Students at Laguna Beach, CA.
stigma, race and the impacts of utilizing
services. I have been able to put into practice
much of the knowledge I gained in my
classes. Student leadership for me has served
a practical component in my education.
For what is knowledge without application?
As a student leader, I built relationships
with many individuals who became close
friends. As a first-generation college
student, this journey has felt lonely at
times. Becoming a student leader has been
my key to building new relationships that
often lead to meaningful friendships. Student
leadership has offered me a platform to
use my voice to encourage change, hone
my public speaking skills along with
strengthening my rapport building skills.
I highly recommend all students at any level
of education to become a student leader;
there are many benefits.
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44 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle Vol. 24, No. 3, 2018