Student Spotlight

MFT grad creates her future with a Brandman education

June 14, 2018 by Brandman University
Aline Inocencio

Aline Inocencio took classes at the Irvine campus and online.

Aline Inocencio has a dream. Graduating from Brandman with a master’s in psychology was just the beginning of making it come true.

Like many Brandman students, Inocencio’s journey involves both time, distance and a career change. Hers includes moving from Brazil to Texas to California and working first as an au pair and then in the financial industry for six years. After returning to Brazil to care for her dying mother, she returned to the states with a sense that her life needed to change.

Her friends had often told her that her real calling in life was to help people, not as a financial counselor but as someone willing to listen. It wasn’t until she found a job working in an agency that provided applied behavior analysis for children with autism that she began to see the connection to earning an advanced degree and a career change.

Inocencio earned her Master of Arts in psychology with an emphasis on both marriage and family counseling and professional clinical counseling in two years and graduated this spring. She called the program “a perfect fit.” It wasn’t just that classes were available in the evening, which suited her work schedule, it was also the approach to teaching.

“From the very beginning, my professors brought it from being an abstract concept of psychology to making it concrete. I was able to find the pieces that were of interest to me and focus on those,” she said.

The need for focus

That was particularly important because she had struggled at times in the past with school because of what she later learned was attention deficit disorder. “Brandman provided both the freedom to choose a subject to focus on and a structure,” she said.

“I learned about life,” she added. “You don’t have to be an expert in everything.”

She’s particularly grateful for the guidance provided by Isa Ribadu, Ph.D., the associate dean and chair of psychology as well as associate professor of psychology, who recommended Inocencio as a commencement speaker. “From the very first interview when I was applying, we bonded over English as a second language.”

Brahm, Inocencio

Chancellor Gary Brahm with Aline Inocencio at the 2018 Southern Commencement.

Even more crucial was meeting Brandman adjunct faculty member Dawn Hulme. “She kept saying things that made me go, ‘that’s me, too.’” Identifying with Hulme gave her a sense of confidence. “This is possible. I’m going to be able to do what I envisioned,” Inocencio remembers thinking. “It told me, ‘yes, I can.’”

Part of what Inocencio envisions is an approach to helping people both through traditional clinical approaches and through a person’s spiritual side, using mindfulness-based practices. Hulme takes a similar approach in her Windows of Hope Counseling. “It is my belief that everyone deserves to be nurtured and supported during their healing process,” writes Hulme on her website where she discusses “Imago” therapy.

From student to employee

The connection grew stronger when Hulme opened a clinic in Long Beach in addition to her base in Roseville. Inocencio first helped her set up a website and then became a counselor trainee. She now works at the Long Beach location full time. She’s already seeing about 35 clients and is working to reach out to others from Brazil and those with Portuguese as their first language.

She’s particularly happy to be working with five teens. “They are my most special population.”

She still identifies with the fearfulness that can overwhelm teenagers, remembering her journey and how her education has helped her. “I don’t want to be fearful. I want to be open to new concepts and new ideas.”

“In her new role, Aline is making a difference,” wrote Ribadu in the commencement speech recommendation. “In my opinion, she is living the life we would wish for all our students at Brandman University.”

Read Inocencio's commencement speech submission.

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