At 1pm, George Ramos was leaving family court when we caught up with him for an exclusive alumni interview. A graduate of Nyack College’s Alliance Graduate School of Counseling, George has spent the past 6 years working for New York City, first as a Child Abuse Investigator and now as a Family Assessment Coordinator. A part of the Administration for Children Services, the Family Assessment Program (his employer) helps teens and families in crisis. The agency provides services and social workers to assist families tackling such issues as truancy and drugs.
At the very start, George said that he wanted to do this interview in order to expressly highlight his gratitude to the faculty of the Alliance Graduate School of Counseling.
His work with ACS and the Family Assessment Program… in a nutshell
Specifically, George manages intake, meaning when a case comes in, he identifies specialists who can assist the particular issues of the family. He speaks to teens, sometimes without their parents in order to learn about the underlying issues in their lives. Before his degree completion with the AGSC, he already had a steady job within the department.
So why pursue a master’s degree in mental health counseling?
George wanted to advance his degree and like many adults he struggled with time commitments. He’d a family and a full time job. Adding course work to this plate seemed almost impossible and in fact the faculty and admissions counselors were unsure he’d be able to carry all the responsibilities.
“I remember sitting in the office as my candidacy for admittance was discussed. They were skeptical of my application but they wanted to give me a chance to discuss my goals for the program. As we talked, my understanding of the school deepened. They spoke about empathy and investment in mental health and the Christian church. They spoke of people doing good not for a job or number but for a greater purpose.”
The full commitment of the classes weighed on George but he endeavored to succeed. “It’s hard being in a class with students who are smarter or younger than you and quicker to understand things. Dr. Lucas believed in me even when I struggled. I don’t think you can get that in any other program. This is a community of learners.”
What was a monumental moment for him in the AGSC?
“Too many,” George told me and again began discussing his admittance into the program. He knew the program was designed to mend broken lives. “That resonated with me. And sometimes in class you wonder how you’re going to remember the material and all the techniques. But eventually you’re with a client or at your internship and you hear Dr. Chin in your head. He’s telling you about case studies. Suddenly, I realized that I knew what to do. I could hear Dr. Robles speaking and I thought –wow! I can do this!”
What advice does he give to new students?
George said that students should remember that their job is to learn techniques and new information. Sometimes in the moment, the material can be overwhelming. But have faith because the greatest strength that the program has lives with the professors who “have knowledge of the discipline and respect to the Bible. They merge the two together, not letting one outweigh the other. It’s thoughtful and pointed.” New students and graduates are in the program for a reason: to help others and the Kingdom.
Was the hard work worth it?
Yes. George said that with his degree he was able to advance within his department and compete with applicants that have backgrounds in social work. He feels that while a master’s degree in social work is widely known, his degree in mental health and counseling is clinically pointed and based on best practices. He had an edge and used it.
In the future, George knows that he can continue within ACS and can eventually clinch a high-powered administrative position within New York City. But in fact he wants to open a non-profit mental health practice specifically for people of color. He wants to continue healing and educating in a Christian way. George is currently enrolled in Harvard University’s Extension School studying Management.
Before we ended our conversation, I asked George if he wanted anything in particular printed in the article. He said simply, “I want this [article] to show how grateful I am to the AGSC and for how vested they were in me. I’d like to highlight how warm they’ve been to me and continue to be. It’s a lot like home.”
Note from the Editor: Alumni Spotlight is a special column dedicated to Nyack Warriors around the world. Whether on the banks of the Hudson River or in Battery Park, Warriors go far and wide. Do you know an alumnus with a great story? Please message us so we can share their story on our blog.