Agents of Change: Jordan Gonzales

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“It is incredibly rewarding for me to see even the smallest of changes with clients. To be there as clients learn one new way of coping, or experience one tiny change in the way they see themselves, is a huge honor.”

– Jordan Gonzales

1. What is your position at STAR?

I’ve been a counselor at STAR’s Baton Rouge branch since March 2017 and have had the pleasure of providing individual and group counseling to survivors during my time here.

2. How did you come to work at STAR or in the field of sexual assault prevention/response?

While completing an internship at Child Advocacy Services for my undergraduate degree, I was exposed to the reality of sexual trauma. I had a chance to work closely with the program director and observe forensic interviews. There I became passionate about working with survivors and their families, and was inspired to enroll in the graduate counseling program at Southeastern.

I first heard about STAR while beginning my job search after graduating. My cousin, who is an ER nurse, told me about STAR volunteers who accompany survivors at the hospital during their exams. I thought this was a great service for the community, so I was excited to hear about a counseling position opening at the Baton Rouge Branch. I applied as soon as I became aware of the opening.

3. What do you find most rewarding about your work at STAR?

I find a lot of meaning in the work that I do. I know that I can make change at a small scale, moment by moment and person by person. It is incredibly rewarding for me to see even the smallest of changes with clients. To be there as clients learn one new way of coping, or experience one tiny change in the way they see themselves, is a huge honor.

It’s a really special privilege to walk with them on their journey of healing. Knowing that I could be there to provide even one ounce of encouragement makes it worth it to me. It’s rewarding for me to know that someone who has no reason to trust another person because of their traumatic experiences entrusts me with their thoughts and feelings.

4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?

I work with an amazing team at STAR. Their compassion and encouragement is a major source of joy for me in the sometimes bleak work that I do. We incorporate a lot of humor in our interactions. We support one another and really just help one another understand that “Yes, this is hard work, but I’m here.” Brooke and Dana are both incredible counselors whom I’ve had the privilege of working alongside and learning from for over a year now.

It motivates me to know that there are organizations like STAR that work to help people who have been hurt while simultaneously working to prevent trauma from occuring by changing the culture. I’m faced with some of the harshest realities of human nature in my job, but I’m also daily reminded that there are positive forces for good through my coworkers every day.

5. What are some other ways you promote positive change in your community?

When I’m not at work, I do everything I can to separate myself from counseling. Self-care is my main priority, so I just live my life. I try to have fun and leave work at work. The topic of sexual trauma is everywhere right now though, so when people talk about it, I present the knowledge I have to the best of my ability and try to be a voice for survivors. It’s a small contribution, but I know change happens in the small moments.

6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of the movement to end sexual trauma?

Becoming a part of a movement looks different for different people. Find out your style and what fits best for you. Use your strengths to do things that matter to you. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.

A great first step is to educate yourself. Whether that means researching local organizations to find out more information, volunteering, or having conversations with people around you, know the facts and follow your intuition from that point on.

 

Get involved and make change with STAR:

Click here for more ways to get involved.

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