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Spotlight on Walden // May 14, 2012

Turning Personal Experience Into a Social Change Mission

Xiomara A. Sosa’s personal history and her vision as a social entrepreneur are inseparable. A New York City native and a U.S. Army and Air Force Reserves veteran from a family of military veterans, Xiomara was on a train departing from the Pentagon only minutes away from her workplace in Washington, D.C., when the 9/11 terrorist attack occurred.

“The connection I made between my world and the mental health world is rooted in 9/11,” says Xiomara, a student in Walden’s MS in Mental Health Counseling program with a specialization in Forensic Counseling.

Xiomara responded to the trauma of the events by devoting herself to protecting the well-being of all people through mental and physical health counseling and advocacy. In 2005, Xiomara founded XAS Consulting to provide mental health and wellness coaching that helps people achieve and sustain healthy, balanced lives.

Xiomara also acted on her plan to earn the graduate degree that constant work had long delayed. Once again, personal experience influenced her direction. She had seen her brother go through a difficult divorce that ultimately tore apart his family. Appalled by what happened to him, she looked for a master’s program that would allow her to build on her undergraduate degree in psychology and expand her consulting practice to include mediation for families involved with the court system, clinical mental health counseling, and forensic services.

“I love psychology, but I thought of it as a steppingstone to what I want to do. Walden’s definition of a clinical mental health counselor resonated with me and fit perfectly with where I see myself,” Xiomara says. “Then, when I went to my residency, seeing everyone brought together crystallized social change for me. I felt I was definitely in the right place with the right people.”

Since becoming a Walden student in 2010, Xiomara has created two nonprofit organizations: The Get-Right! Organization, Inc., which educates families about mental and physical health issues and supports related initiatives across the United States, and the You Are Strong! Center on Veterans Health and Human Services, which informs veterans about available health and human services information and combats the stigma they may associate with accessing these services.

“I needed to figure out how to give back and help. Thanks to Walden, I now feel prepared to help others,” Xiomara says. “All people need to understand the connection between physical and mental health. The physical state absolutely matches the mental state.”