Joanna Guadalupe Garcia, MA., Xavier College Preparatory, Class of 2010


“I am the proud daughter of two immigrant parents who fled from the civil wars in Colombia and El Salvador. Their resilience and determination to provide my sister, Gina Garcia XCP ’14, and me with brighter and equitable futures led me to pursue a life and career of human services and inquiry. In 2008, as a sophomore at Xavier the financial economic crisis hit and impacted our family hard just as it did to many others.  There was a stressful time when we did not know if I would continue my studies at Xavier. Working alongside our parents, my sister and I learned the importance of hard work, hope, and faith. In spite of the many challenges our family faced, including economic challenges and discrimination, we persevered leaning on our faith in God who then worked through the generosity of donors and Xavier to continue our studies.”

What impact did Catholic schools have on you?

“I knew the moment I stepped onto Xavier’s campus during Eighth Grade Day that I belonged. From then on, I could visualize my growth as a young woman both in faith and life. I was coming from an underfunded public school on the outskirts of Phoenix where we did not have textbooks or supplies for most classes. The wide array of classes, extracurricular activities, resources, and passionate and caring teachers amazed me. That visit gave me hope. I realized the potential each young person has can be nurtured and realized in today’s modern world. Throughout my time at Xavier, I encountered motivated, talented, empathetic, and supportive peers and teachers. Each person mattered.  There were several people at Xavier who saw potential in me. They helped empower me to build confidence and to come into my own as a woman leader. There was one teacher who embodied the epitome of humanity’s deepest gratitude for life and learning. Mrs. Grimes-Priebe’ 92 instilled in us students the importance of psychology as a means to help humanity in a world of intense pressures. Even while battling cancer, she reached out to others with passion, optimism, and conviction. Her humane approach to life exuded the purest love I had come across and experienced at Xavier. When I told her at the end of the semester of my goal to become a psychologist, she said, “You should go for it!” The example she set for us serves as a reminder to use our talents and knowledge to help others. Xavier opened its doors with open arms welcoming me into a community that cherishes and supports each young woman to the maximum throughout high school and in life.”


“After graduating from Xavier, I attended Wellesley College on a full ride scholarship in Wellesley, MA, where I majored in Psychology and Spanish. During study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, I studied positive psychology, which then led me to pursue a more integrative and strength-based approach to therapy and research. Following college graduation, I then attended Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, where I earned a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Currently, I work as a bilingual mental health counselor at the residential and community programs at Casa Myrna Vazquez in Boston, MA. Casa Myrna is a non-profit organization providing free and accessible services to domestic violence victims and survivors. In addition to my role as a therapist, I work on several committees focusing on creating, developing, and advocating for the implementation of trauma-informed care and services for survivors and providers. Working and living in Boston, MA, has provided me the opportunity to work with leading researchers and practitioners both in the fields of psychology and Spanish including working on translations of psychological assessments to promote psychospiritual maturation.”

Future plans:

“Currently, I am working on obtaining my licensure as a mental health counselor in Massachusetts. I plan to work a few more years in the fields of domestic violence and mental health before pursuing a doctoral degree to specialize in Holistic Counseling with a social justice orientation. It is my aspiration to become a licensed psychologist with an integrative and holistic wellness center to empower and ensure people can heal on an individual and collective level. Looking forward to traveling around the world and writing as well.”