Maria L. Santa-Maria, Ph.D., Lead Faculty of the Human Services program, will retire after the 2016 commencement with 17-years of service at the college. “I came to the college just as the Human Services program was starting and it’s been lot of fun,” Santa-Maria said. “The most gratifying work I’ve done in my whole career has been here at the college.”
Santa-Maria, who came to SFCC with 27 years of experience, said watching the impact and growth of the Human Services program has been like tossing a pebble into a pond and watching as one concentric circle touches and influences another. “Our students are so committed and really want to make a difference in the community. I’ve seen many go on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Several former students are now heads of social service agencies.”
Much of Santa-Maria’s life work was shaped by the coping skills she acquired through her life experiences and education. She arrived in this country as child refugee who fled from Cuba. That experience inspired her to write her doctoral dissertation on the impact of trauma on unaccompanied Latin American immigrant children.
At SFCC, SantaMaria says the Traumatic Stress Aide Certificate, which she developed, fills a growing demand for workers who can deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “Today PTSD affects so many people – not just those who have gone to war, but also those who were victims of violence or survived disasters such as fires and floods.”
“The students who go through the Human Services program amaze me,” she said, noting that the Human Services program has the highest number of graduates in the School of Liberal Arts.
“The program’s internships give students real life experience such as volunteering at homeless shelters, hospice programs, the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department and many other agencies. About a quarter of our students are offered a job as a result of contacts made during an internship,” Santa-Maria said. To read more about the Human Services program visit www.sfcc.edu/programs/human_services/student_testimonials.