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My name is Cristina Fernández, and I am simultaneously the subject and author of this web site. I spent my formative years in Miami, Florida, and earned my bachelor's degree (B.A., Psychology) at Florida International University. After an obligatory period of introspection and world travel, I packed my belongings and headed to Massachusetts in 2005. Once here, I began studying at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and earned my master's degree in Community Social Psychology in 2007.
The economic climate upon my graduation was bleak, so I made the decision to climb the proverbial ladder at my retail position, and within one year, I was promoted to assistant store manager and, subsequently, senior assistant. However, after seven years at that company, I decided it was time to redirect my energy back into community benefit, which is where my heart is.
In January 2013, I began a new journey as a career resource specialist at a community-based organization in Lowell, MA. In a nutshell, I support adults with disabilities to find and retain jobs. This involves working with each person to assess their vocational interests and skills and support them to learn any skills they will need to be successful at work. Every person I support creates a unique person centered plan that outlines their goals, and from there, I support them with developing a resume, filling out applications, following up with employers, interviews, and - with any luck! - job placement. After this happens, I provide long-term on-side support for both the employer and employee with the goal that the employee continues to be a productive and happy core member of the team.
Over the years, I have gained a number of skills (e.g. customer service, supervisory, career/vocational training, administrative) and always challenge myself to learn new skills and gain new experiences. I often think about a study that correlated brain death with cessation of learning, and I'd like to live as long as I can. So far, so good! At various points along the way, I became a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), Psi Chi, and the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA).
On the side, I enjoy walking for a cause (particularly the annual Walk For Hunger in Boston), acrylic painting, fiction writing, and knitting. I've just started teaching myself to cross-stitch. I hope everybody likes useless doo-dads.
And, in case you were wondering, the "M" is short for Mariela, which is pronounced mar-YELL-ah. (But "Mary-Ella" is acceptable.)
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