Beyond Emancipation

Joymara: A Shining Light

Joymara knew she wanted to be a social worker from the time she was 12 years old.

“When I was coming up in the foster care system, there were lots of obstacles I had to navigate, and a lot of gaps in the care I received from the adults in my life,” Joymara says, “so I always wanted to support youth in similar positions. I felt that I could do this work a little better, with more compassion, coming from a place of understanding.”

In May, Joymara completed her master’s in social work at UC Berkeley, and currently works as a clinician for transition age youth with mental health diagnoses.  With her master’s degree in hand, she is already earning hours toward becoming a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).

While studying African-American studies at Merritt College and later sociology at Cal State East Bay, Joymara participated in B:E’s book money program, which helped her obtain the expensive textbooks required for her full course load.

Joymara was one of the first participants in B:E’s New Beginnings program, working one summer as a district attorney intern at the Family Justice Center. That internship connected Joymara to one of her mentors. “I’m really grateful for that since it brought someone into my life who is still in my life. She came to my graduation in May. She has been a great possibility model for me.”

Outside of work, Joymara has many interests that bring her peace, including a love for singing. She recently started taking voice training lessons. “That’s the thing that brings me joy,” she says. “I’ve always loved to sing.”

Joymara staring out into the water.

She is also learning Spanish, and recently traveled to Guatemala to live with a host family in a Spanish immersion program. Global travel is important to Joymara, who finds it exhilarating. “I’m a Sagittarius, and we have a wanderlust,” she says. “Also, being a black woman and being able to move myself from place to place is really empowering when I think about how historically, black people, and especially black women, haven’t always had the agency or legal authority to do that so it’s really important for me. I really want to venture out.”

Even as a child, Joymara knew she was a deep thinker, intuitive and empathetic. “From a very young age, I witnessed so much callousness and unfair treatment, people being treated as if they were disposable, like their feelings didn’t matter,” she says. “I hope that young people can one day not even interact with systems at all.”

Fulfilling her childhood wish “to hold space for people and be that shining light of support and understanding and genuine caring and concern for people’s livelihood and wellbeing,” Joymara is dedicated to her work with young people, and plans eventually to work as a therapist in private practice.

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