Psych Grad Uses Degree to Support, Celebrate Diversity & Inclusion

Daniela Barrios Reyna and the text Daniela Barrios Reyna '20, BA in Psychology with a concentration in Applied Psychology.

Given her lifelong interest in understanding human behavior, Daniela Barrios Reyna ’20 naturally gravitated to a bachelor’s in psychology because she wanted to study how people think and act.

“I wanted to understand how different factors influence our decisions and paths,” Barrios Reyna said. “I felt a psychology degree with a concentration in applied psychology would be the best first step towards the life that I am designing.” Her goal is to eventually earn a PhD in psychology and become an expert in resilience, coaching and positive psychology to help the most people with evidence-based research, she said.

That goal is especially important to Barrios Reyna, who wants to bring these concepts to the Hispanic community. “I was born and raised in Venezuela, and after moving to the United States when I was 16, I noticed there is a significant information gap about these concepts in the Latin-American community,” Barrios Reyna said.

She wants to be a voice for those who don’t have access to this information and share the tools and resources that she has learned because she knows that they can change lives. “Mental health is such an essential part of our lives, but we often do not give it enough importance,” Barrios Reyna said. “When we decide to make our mental health and mental wellness a priority in our lives, we are able to take a more proactive role in designing our lives.”

A Degree That Moved With Her

Barrios Reyna did a lot of research before going back to school. She knew she wanted to pursue a degree from an accredited university and wanted the flexibility of going to school online. “My husband is an active-duty service member, and I also love to travel,” she said. “While my husband is out in deployment, I usually visit my family in Panama for one or two months or find other adventures to embark on. After researching different universities, I found SNHU to be the one that best met my needs. I was happily surprised to find such a wonderful and supportive community here at SNHU.”

And her experience as a student fit her well. “The format of the classes was an excellent match for my personality,” Barrios Reyna said. “I could create my own schedule, go to class at a coffee shop, write my papers from home or anywhere in the world, and the professors were always supportive and available for me.”

What she was learning in class applied to the rest of her life, too. Barrios Reyna was also getting certified as a personal development coach and doing an internship with The Center for Happiness. “I was able to tie in the concepts that I was learning in school to my professional life with ease because they go hand in hand. I could also cross-apply the theories that I was learning to my personal life and interactions with people,” she said. “I believe the number one skill that I learned with my degree with SNHU is how to be a resourceful and independent thinker. I will carry this learning to every area of my life.”

Psychology professor Dr. Justina Oliveira also helped her gain relevant experience in psychological research. “I reached out to her to learn about her story and professional path, and she ended up becoming a wonderful mentor as well,” Barrios Reyna said.

Work That Respects and Celebrates Heritage and Culture

Barrios Reyna recently landed a job at Instant Teams, an organization SNHU has as a business partner, working as a team success specialist. She said their workforce is entirely remote, so her mission is to cultivate a remote work environment that nurtures professional and personal growth and provides meaningful opportunities for remote team members to be heard, supported and celebrated.

“My responsibilities include welcoming new hires, creating curated content and discussion prompts in our Slack channels, collecting feedback from employees to bring innovation and improvement, bringing more diversity and inclusion to our teams and hosting workshops and events for our team members,” Barrios Reyna said. “I love what I am doing, and I am very thankful to the SNHU career center and to Instant Teams for giving me this opportunity.”

She worked closely with Alex Chapa, an SNHU career advisor, who assists military-affiliated students, to refine her resume and career goals and so much more. “I cannot thank him enough for all the skills, resources and connections that he shared with me,” Barrios Reyna said. “He has been a crucial part of my process of transition into the workforce in a meaningful way. Ever since the first time we talked, he has listened carefully to my goals, he has helped me evolve and step up to the different challenges (like finding a job in the middle of a pandemic) and he has kept me accountable.”

He also introduced her to others from his team, such as Jim Lindsay, a military employer relations partner on SNHU’s career team. She credits Chapa and Lindsay for helping her find her current position with Instant Teams.

Barrios Reyna said she loves her culture and heritage. Being an immigrant in the U.S. has helped her gain a different perspective on life – and embrace and celebrate who she is. “With my new role at Instant Teams, I am able to bring this appreciation and perspective for our differences and uniqueness to the team and create opportunities to respect and celebrate each other’s heritage and cultural backgrounds,” she said.

Overcoming Military Spouse Challenges

As a military spouse, Barrios Reyna said one of the main challenges she’s experienced is the uncertainty that comes with several deployments and constant moves. “We have lived in three different places over the past four years. When you move so much with your partner’s career, your own career can often take a back seat,” she said.

Barrios Reyna said it doesn’t have to be that way, especially now that companies can run remotely. “For example, Instant Teams is a fully remote company that connects military-affiliated professionals with meaningful remote opportunities,” she said. “Over 90% of our workforce are military-connected professionals.”

Maintaining a clear vision of her goals and staying open and creative helps her overcome the challenges military life has brought her way. Barrios Reyna also relied on resources, such as SNHU’s career team, Military One Source and MyCAA scholarship, among others.

Barrios Reyna believes education is essential for everyone to facilitate growth. “When it comes to being a military spouse, I think education can empower you to design a meaningful career,” she said. “As military spouses, we are resilient, flexible, resourceful and highly adaptable. We have a set of skills that are unique and of immense value to the evolving job market and the entrepreneurship field. When you add education into that mix, that’s where magic comes in.”

Pamme Boutselis is a writer and content director in higher education. Follow her on Twitter @pammeb or connect on LinkedIn.

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