Carolina Ekonomo MA '18 Shifts Career Focus to Pursue Passion for Helping Others
For School of Graduate Psychology alumna Carolina Ekonomo MA ’18, Saturday’s commencement ceremony is the latest milestone of a long, continuous life journey defined by her persistence, determination and love for others
The native of El Salvador came to the United States as a political refugee in the 1980s while the country was embroiled in civil war. She wed her husband as a teenager and went on to raise two daughters, now adults, all while earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, followed by an MBA in finance, before embarking on a successful career at Daimler-Benz, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz.
For most, such a sequence would be the ultimate success story of triumph over adversity. For Ekonomo, it was satisfying to realize the American Dream, but something was still amiss. “I left my career to follow my passion,” she said. “Psychology!”
So, the resident of Vancouver, Wash. applied and was accepted into Pacific’s clinical psychology program. On Aug. 11, she found herself among approximately 28 students who received a master’s degree in clinical psychology, the first step toward a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. The students graduated alongside their doctoral degree candidates within the psychology school, along with other College of Health Professions students from the schools of Audiology, Dental Hygiene Studies, Healthcare Administration and Leadership, Occupational Therapy and Physician Assistant Studies.
Ekonomo and her cohorts will continue their studies at Pacific for the next three years in one of five clinical tracks. For Ekonomo, the School of Graduate Psychology’s Sabiduría Latina/o track will help her care for the fast-growing, yet still largely underserved, Latina/o population in the Portland area.
The Sabiduria track allows students to gain competencies in Latina/o psychology and culturally informed work that can be adapted or translated and applied to other multicultural groups. The emphasis provides students opportunity to focus their training on culturally informed services with Latina/os and individuals from other diverse cultural backgrounds.
Ekonomo has been an active member of the Pacific Graduate Psychology student body. She is the president of the university’s PsyD Student Association and has served in various roles as a volunteer for school activities.
“I am proud to be a Latina student at Pacific!”
As one of eight schools that comprise the Pacific University College of Health Professions, the School of Graduate Psychology prepares psychological professionals who foster collaborative relationships, create meaningful change and dedicate themselves to models of health and well-being that support diversity and social justice.