Leading the Way: Psychology Sibling Professors Lead Students to Community Involvement
STC psychology professors Eli Sarabia (left) and Alex Sarabia from Starr County are pictured beside the Psychology Club's showcase with awards and recognition over the years for their acts of community service.
“Just like we maintain our physical health, it’s just as important to maintain our mental health,” said STC psychology professor Alex Sarabia.
Hired in 2006 and 2011, brothers and alumni Eli and Alex Sarabia became full-time faculty members at the Starr County campus.
To enhance student resume building and community networking, they have served as advisors of the Psych Club since 2009.
“We decided to start a psychology club based on research studies that demonstrate the benefits of student involvement with campus organizations,” said Alex. “It's proven that students who are actively involved on campus become more successful in the classroom have higher retention and graduation rates and helps develop their social and network skills.”
The Starr Psych Club serves as a social and academic platform for students that encourages and stimulates interest in the psychology field. Job opportunities in the discipline can include becoming a psychologist, licensed professional counselor, psychology college professor or a case manager at a counseling center or hospital.
Alex combined his passion for teaching and interest in psychology with credentials as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC), Certified Anger Resolution Therapist (CART) and Certified Laughter Yoga Leader (CLYL).
“Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to become a teacher, but when my brother majored in psychology, I felt inspired to follow his career path and I fell in love with the subject,” shares Alex.
The club hosts several signature events like “Starr County Role Models Get Inspired Conference,” “Crossing Disciplines Conference” and “Starr County Mental Health Awareness Conference" which invites guest speakers from the community.
“The students get inspired by city mayors, doctors, and county leaders because they get to see and hear first-hand people from their areas in Rio Grande City or Roma make a difference in their communities,” said Alex.
The“Psychological Science Faculty Profile Series,” hosted by the Sarabia brothers invite Mid-Valley and Pecan psychology professors to talk about their careers, academic backgrounds and psychological interests on topics of eating disorders, suicide prevention awareness and mental health.
“It’s important to discuss these topics because mental health has this stigma associated with it that’s usually negative, leaving people and their families ashamed, but it’s important to talk and learn about it,” said Alex. “We want students to know it’s okay and help is always there – just like we maintain our physical health we should also maintain our mental health.”
Students become active members in their community through fundraisers and causes through “Relay for Life,” “Starr County Fair and Parade” and “Adopt a Highway Trash Pickup.”
For psychology club president Glendy Saenz, she prioritizes community engagement.
“I want to make sure everyone is involved somehow,” she said. “I want them to be active in the community because we are in a field that raises awareness for people who need resources for their mental needs.”
Previous members of the club who have since graduated with higher education return to thank the Sarabia brothers.
“It’s a very rewarding feeling because you see first-hand how it benefitted the students and the community and that’s what STC is all about,” said Alex.
The club has 50 student members and is open to all majors at the Starr County Campus. In addition to the club’s success and its core values, South Texas College and Rio Grande City awarded the student club a Community Service Award.
Students who maintain a high G.P.A. and are actively involved in the community have been awarded $1,000 in scholarships with a total of $11,000 given out during the club’s lifetime.
For more information about Starr County’s Psychology Club visit https://www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/psychology/pdf/Psych%20clubs.pdf