Counselor Elizabeth Flora Shares her Experience

Maia Garcia, Staff Reporter

Ms. Elizabeth Flora is a mental health counselor who helps students with life challenges and their emotional well-being. She collaborates with staff and makes sure clients are getting connected with appropriate services to meet their emotional needs. She provides 1:1 therapy services and provides mental health diagnosis.

Ms. Flora is from San Jose CA and attended Mt. Pleasant High School in San Jose.  She graduated from high school in 2005, then went to San Jose State University, graduating in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree. Flora took 10 years off from her career path because she wanted to get experience first because the Social Work program required experience.

In those ten years she worked in three different jobs; her first job was East Hills Vision Care from 2005 to 2011, then she made the decision to go to work for Catholic Charities where she was an Intake Reception Worker in Concord, California.  Unfortunately, this position did not provide enough income, so she applied for another job called Uplift Families Services as a family specialist. There she worked with children and families who were referred by CSP. Those services were voluntary and many of the children had difficulties with their mental health.

“That’s why I decided to help as a volunteer,” Flora said. She decided to help as a volunteer, but since she did not have her master’s degree, she was very limited in her services.  In addition, when she wanted to connect families with therapists, there were very few who spoke Spanish. Many of her peers told her “you should go back to college to get your master’s degree and help those people.” And she did.

She mentioned that it was hard because applying to universities was a very difficult process, but she did it because she felt that people needed her help. She decided to apply to San Jose State, but she was not accepted. She got very sad, telling herself that she would not do it again. A few months later she wanted to try again because many people told her that many people are not accepted and to try again.

It was too much work to apply again, but in the end she did it again, applying only to San Jose State because she had her family there.  When she applied again to San Jose State, she also applied to California State University, Stanislaus, just in case they did not accept her to San Jose State. After a few days she received an email that she had not been accepted to San Jose State, but was accepted to California State University, Stanislaus.

At this time she had to make a very difficult decision because part of her wanted to go to San Jose State because she did not want to move and move away from her family.  Flora was unsure what to to but at the end of the day she gave herself a pep talk and said, “I fought hard to get accepted; so I accepted to go to California State University, Stanislaus. I felt I couldn’t miss that opportunity. ”

Ms. Flora started at Stanislaus in 2018 and in 2020 she graduated and got her Sociology degree. She did not have graduation because of COVID and she mentioned that she felt very sad that after such a big accomplishment, she could not have the graduation she wanted. In 2021 they had a mini graduation for her and she could only invite two people and those two people were her mom and dad. She said it was one of the best things to see both her dads so proud of her since she had her bachelor and master’s degree. She graduated with honors with a 4. 0 GPA.

Ms. Flora started working at Los Banos High school because she had to do two years of internship to get the experience she needed.  The first year she worked as an intern, she worked with the Sierra Vista agency and when she was going to finish that year, they wanted her to continue working with them with a salary. Her second year of internship was in 2019 and part of 2020 was in Merced County where she stayed halfway through because of the pandemic.

“In 2021 in February I went back to Sierra Vista and since then I have been with that agency and they put me in this position at the school as a counselor (social worker) until 2023. My experience here has been good, but the best experience was at Uplift Families Services because that job is where I realized what I really wanted to do and that’s why I came back to get my master’s degree in social worker.”

Many thanks to Ms. Flora for sharing some of her experience and taking care of the mental health of many of our Tigers.  Give her a Tiger welcome by visiting her in the front office.