Crystal Ochoa: Grad Spotlight


Graduate Spotlight: Crystal Ochoa

Name: Crystal Ochoa

Age: 38

Course of Study (degree being earned): M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling 

Hometown: Pharr, TX 

I was born in Edinburg, TX, and graduated high school in 2000. After graduating I went to college for a while, then joined the Army for 8 years, then settled in San Antonio. Soon after I started my journeyI completed my B.A. in psychology at UIW in 2016 and was accepted at UTSA for my M.S. in clinical mental health counseling where I will be graduating this spring. My family (spouse, kids, and mother) has stuck by my side through my educational journey, and I am grateful for their support, especially through COVID-19; it was the hardest trying to take care of everyone (my two boys) while being at home. 

Why did you choose UTSA? 

I heard they had an amazing staff in the CMHC program, and it was CACREP accredited. 

What was your favorite class and/or who was your favorite professor? Why? 

My child abuse and domestic violence course with Dr. Speedlin and Judge Gonzalez. They had live discussion panels via Zoom with true survivors of child abuse and domestic violence. The panels also consisted of judges from San Antonio, lawyers, CPS advocates, and many other officials and workers in this field, providing us with amazing resources and knowledge to help individuals who needed it the most.   

What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned over the course of your studies? 

I have learned how to give myself self-care now and then. Also, that I cannot heal anyone that healing comes from the individual asking for or wanting help. I have learned that as long as my client accepts resources provided by us that is as much as you can do for them. I have gotten very good feedback from my clients that appreciated my services. 

Describe any organizations or activities within COEHD that you’ve participated in. 

I participated in several seminars provided by professors and the CSI chapter where I am a member. 

Describe any professional experiences or internship opportunities you have had. 

I was fortunate to be accepted into an internship site with the PITCH program and the Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) program. I was able to do my internship for two semesters in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021 while under COVID-19 protocols for UT Health - UHS RBG OBGYN Women's Clinic. I worked with many types of clients, like those who suffered from anxiety, depression, grief, cancer diagnoses, or OBGYN circumstances who were referred to those of us interning as behavioral health consultants, supervised by Dr. Tara Ryan, LPC. 

What is your fondest memory of your time at UTSA? 

The fondest memory I have is actually being at the university in class last spring and being able to make connections and friends before COVID-19 hit. I honestly needed friends to understand the pressure we were all under when the pandemic came.  

How has COVID impacted you, either personally or professionally? 

COVID-19 has impacted my life significantly; it took families away from and are now in heaven. I am blessed that my family wasn't directly affected, but sympathize with those around me while also trying to heal from a loss. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was the hardest for my children and I because we had to cope with a new normal of having to be homeschooled via Zoom. Luckily, I had my mother to help me when I needed to work at my internship site, but the days I was home you could see it was a struggle for my kids to adjust to learning over the computer. For me it was a struggle to get things done when the kids were home; I had to provide all three meals at home while also being a full-time student, part-time intern, wife, housekeeper, etc. 

What are your plans for the future and/or your career? 

I plan to volunteer before I can submit all my paperwork to the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) to become an LPC-Associate, while also trying to look for an LPC-Supervisor for my 3000 internship hours. I'm not sure if a job or volunteering will do the job until I get my LPC-A. 

What has brought you inspiration during this time? I.E. Music, books, people, etc. 

My peers and superiors have given me the inspiration to look forward to what is yet to come and to be open to endless possibilities. Music has helped me with self-care on my way home from a hard day at my internship site. There were good days and bad days, and music on the ride home helped me in many ways.  

You’ve been given the opportunity to have coffee with any notable figure from your field, alive or dead. Who is it, and what does each of you order?

I would want to have coffee with Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt, because he is the father of experimental psychology. To have a few minutes to pick his brain would give me inspiration; even though times are different, it all started with him! 

 Congratulations to all of our 2021 COEHD graduates! See more COEHD graduate spotlights here 

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