How Maritza Cha Obtained Her Doctorate and Supports School Counselors [Episode 108]


Here's What to Expect In This Episode:

Have you ever considered going back to school to get your doctorate? You may have wondered how doctorate school counseling could benefit your career. Well, you’re in luck because we are going to hear directly from a counselor who went for her dream and received her Ph.D.
Today’s guest, Dr. Maritza Cha, is a first-generation college graduate who started her journey as a social studies teacher in East Los Angeles. Dr. Cha helped design and launch a pilot school within the Los Angeles Unified School District, leading her to work toward her lifelong dream of becoming a college counselor. She has her Ph.D. in Education and Urban Leadership from Claremont Graduate University and teaches at the University of La Verne. She is also a current member of The Clique Collaborative membership.
In this episode, Dr. Cha shares all about her journey to pursuing her doctorate, what she has learned from her experience as an adjunct professor, what it’s like to teach adults, and the topic she wrote her dissertation on and is passionate about. Plus, she shares her experience being in The Clique Collaborative.

Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • Maritza’s journey to pursue her lifelong dream of earning her doctorate in school counseling
  • Why she decided to get her Ph.D. and her advice for others
  • What she has learned from her experience working as an adjunct professor
  • The different things she likes and dislikes about working with adults
  • How she chose the topic for her dissertation
  • What she has loved during her two-year experience as a member of The Clique Collaborative

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Meet Maritza Cha:

Maritza Cha graduated from Garfield High School in East Los Angeles and became the first in her family to attend and graduate from college, the University of California, Los Angeles. She graduated in 2005 with two Bachelor’s Degrees in Political Science and History, with a minor in Education. UCLA was so nice she went there twice, earning a Master’s Degree in Education, as well as a teaching credential, from UCLA’s Teacher Education Program in 2007. She taught social studies at her alma mater, Garfield High School for 4 years.

In 2010, Dr. Cha and several colleagues designed and launched a pilot school within the Los Angeles Unified School District – Social Justice Leadership Academy at Esteban Torres High School. Dr. Cha then decided to work towards her lifelong dream of becoming a college counselor. Dr. Cha earned her second Master’s Degree, a counseling credential and child welfare and attendance credential, from Cal State Dominguez Hills in 2015. She worked as a school counselor for 8 years. Dr. Cha completed her PhD at Claremont Graduate University in Education, Urban Leadership and currently teaches at University of La Verne.

Connect with our Guest:

Read the transcript for this episode:

Lauren 0:00
I am looking forward to introducing you to our guest this week, you’re going to love hearing from her and hearing all about her journey. Before I introduce her, I do want to tell you on a personal note, this episode is coming out the week I should be having a baby. So, you know, I’ve recorded a lot of podcasts ahead of time so that you don’t miss a week of podcast content. But just know I might be a little quieter around social media or who knows maybe I’ll be spending more time there because I’ll have middle of the night feedings and I’ll have a weird schedule going on. But just so you know, that is where I am at personally right now.

Lauren 0:36
Now, let me introduce you to our guest for this week. Maritza and I connected over social media and she is a member of the Clique Collaborative. And let me just tell you a little bit about her. Maritza Cha graduated from Garfield High School in East Los Angeles and became the first in her family to attend and graduate college, the University of California Los Angeles. She graduated in 2005 with two bachelor’s degrees in political science and history with a minor in education. UCLA was so nice that she went there twice, earning a master’s degree in education as well as a teaching credential from UCLA as teacher education program in 2007.

Lauren 1:14
She taught social studies at her alma mater Garfield High School for four years. In 2010, Dr. Cha and several colleagues designed and launched a pilot school within the Los Angeles Unified School District, the social justice Leadership Academy at Esteban Torres High School. Dr. Cha then decided to work towards her lifelong dream of becoming a college counselor. She earned her second master’s degree, a counseling credential in child welfare and attendance credential from Cal State Dominguez Hills in 2015. She worked as a school counselor for eight years.

Lauren 1:46
Dr. Cha completed her PhD at Claremont Graduate University in education, urban leadership, and currently teaches at University of LaVerne. Now, you listen to this, and you hear how much Dr. Cha loves some school, so this conversation is going to be a lot about her doctorate, how she got there, how she pursued that, and kind of what she ran into on the way there. Then you’ll hear a bit about her experiences that she’s had more recently as an adjunct professor, and what she’s learned from that and what she likes and doesn’t like about teaching adults. You’ll hear about some of her passion projects and what she wrote her dissertation on. And then you’ll hear a little bit about her experience in the Clique Collaborative, my high school counseling membership. I know that you’re going to enjoy this conversation. So let’s get to it.

Lauren 2:40
You got into this profession to make a difference in your students lives, but you’re spread thin by all the things that keep getting added to your to do list. I can’t create more hours in the day, but I can invite you into my Counselor Clique where you’ll finally catch your breath. Come with me as we unpack creative ideas and effective strategies that will help you be the counselor who leaves a lifelong impact on your students. I’m Lauren Tingle, your high school counseling hype girl here to help you energize your school counseling program and remind you of how much you love your job.

Lauren 3:13
Hi, Maritza, I’m so glad that you are on high school counseling conversations. It’s a pleasure to have you on the show.

Maritza 3:19
It’s pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for the invitation.

Lauren 3:22
Well, I already introduced you to listeners by telling them a little bit about your bio. So let’s dive right in. And they probably heard your bio and thought that’s a lot of school. So I would love to hear about your educational journey of like, up to getting your doctorate and that area of your life? Like did you always have a goal set out to go get your doctorate or like when did that dream start for you?

Maritza 3:47
I didn’t always have the goal to get a doctorate, even though it’s always in the back of my mind. But I kind of put that on my impossible board list. Right? Like, it’d be nice, but it’s never gonna happen. Things changed when my father passed away. So that was the first person that I actually was close to me, that passed away. I was very fortunate to not have that until you know, in my 30s. And that really took a toll on my mental health when that happened. And I don’t know if you know, the listeners have had someone in their life that has passed away. But because I was his power of attorney, I had to witness all of it, you know, firsthand. And when he was passing away, he had a lot of regrets.

Maritza 4:24
You know, my parents have been divorced for a long time, and he would tell my mom, we’re gonna go on a trip. So I’m like, okay, let’s see if that actually happens. But, you know, I just saw how much he was recounting the things that he had not done and he wished he had done. When he finally passed, obviously, I was doing my grieving process and working with my therapist, kind of figure out the trauma that happened because like I said, I was there and I won’t get into the details, but there are some things that I probably shouldn’t have seen that were very traumatic. And, you know, once I was grieving, like within the year, I think I felt in a better headspace.

Maritza 4:58
And so my therapist like how do you want to honor your dad? Academics has always been a safe space for me. That’s probably why I do it a lot. It’s scheduled, you know what’s going to happen next. And I’m coming from a grieving place where I didn’t know what was happening, I had no control over it. So my therapist suggested, well, why don’t you look at academia again, since that’s where you’re comfortable. In coordination with kind of thinking about how much he regretted things that didn’t occur. I was like, well, let’s try this doctorate. And I went into it really thinking like, it’s okay, if I don’t get in, it’s okay if I don’t finish, like as long as you try. That’s all that matters.

Maritza 5:34
And so yeah, I started applying to EDD programs. And where I ended up, which was Claremont Graduate University, was the only Ph. D. program I applied to.

Lauren 5:43
Oh, wow.

Maritza 5:43
Yeah, you know, there’s some academic trauma there from my undergrad, where I was told I wasn’t a good writer. So that has stayed with me. So I was like, I probably shouldn’t do a PhD, i’ll just stick with AVs and I got into a couple programs. Clarmonte, I don’t even know how I got on their mailing list, emailing list, but they sent me atleast I think, 43 emails within like, a month and a half.

Lauren 6:04
Because you felt very connected to them, you were like, okay, I know a lot about them.

Maritza 6:08
Right. And so really, what pushed me away was like, oh, that’s an expensive price tag. But in one of the emails, and I even recall when I saw it, and because I turned around to my husband was like, oh, they have Allies for Dreamers Certificate, which is probably not something I should have been looking at in first place. That really attracted me, because that’s one of my passion points for advising undocumented students. And so I was like, that’s interesting. And then at that time, I had just left a semester of an adjunct faculty. And I honestly, you know, felt like I needed more help in that. And they had another certificate called Preparing for Future Faculty at the time. And so I was like, Oh, I would kind of like to do that, too. But if I’m getting two certificates, I probably should get some kind of PhD or something.

Lauren 6:50
You’re like, if I’m gonna go this path for more education, let’s just get a doctorate.

Maritza 6:55
Right. And so I applied, they have a couple of options. So I applied to the cohort model, which is called Urban Leadership. And it was tailor made for working professionals and the new director that came in when I was entering the program, she went through it and graduated. And she really took a lot of time to make sure that the classes were in the order they should be, and helping us and making sure that we were in a good place at the end of the coursework in order to start our dissertation proposal.

Lauren 7:24
Which that’s a great thing to have somebody looking out for you as you’re a working professional at the same time. Like you can’t waste your time and go in the wrong order or not have a class available when you need it.

Maritza 7:35
Exactly, Yeah. So we always joke that it was a very concierge experience for us.

Lauren 7:40
Tailored for you.

Maritza 7:41
Yeah. So we were really happy about that. And that’s why I was able to get my doctorate in four years. Usually it’s like five to seven. But you know, we’re also pandemic cohort, the pandemic hit, like a semester and a day into our program. So when I was counseling during that time, all my high school kids were like, I hate zoom. Like, I get it.

Lauren 7:59
Like I’m in it with you. Yeah, exactly. Okay, take me back to something you said at the very beginning, you felt like getting your doctorate was this impossible dream? Like maybe it’s on a vision board, but like a really far away vision board that you’re not really looking at? Why did you feel like it was impossible for you?

Maritza 8:16
Because there’s not a lot of Latina females that get one. Like we’re less than 2%, I believe. And it was really the trauma from one professor for my undergrad that basically said something to the effect that I wasn’t a good writer because of my skin color.

Lauren 8:30
Oh, my gosh.

Maritza 8:31
And so that stayed with me, well still kind of does in the back of my head. But you know, I’ve written a dissertation, so I think I’m okay.

Lauren 8:39
You’ve got you’ve got some documentation to prove.

Maritza 8:41
Yeah, exactly.

Maritza 8:43
Yeah, it came from there, and just not seeing role models that looked like me getting doctorates. And to be honest, I still like because I went to it for more personal reasons, that professional reasons. Because this was the only graduation my father did not attend. Because I’m hoping there’s no other graduation.

Lauren 9:00
Yeah like i’m done.

Maritza 9:02
It’s been really during it when you’re in a doctoral program, they always ask you like, what do you want to do professionally? And I was like, I don’t know. So that’s the other reason why I chose a PhD. Because EDD’s, for the most part tend to stay in K through 12, and be more like admin. That’s not the rule for everyone. But that’s usually what happens. And PhDs you’re open to research, right? There’s a bit more research that you have to do. And I was unsure. So my husband was like, Just do it. And so I was like, okay.

Lauren 9:29
Just keep the doors open. So you took something that felt like this barrier. I mean, in your mind, it was like, probably a block for you for a while, like, this person told me I can’t do it. And you start to really believe that when you think about it, over and over it resurfaces every time you go to apply to a new program or you graduate, you’re like thinking about that, but then it sounds like you turned it into motivation. Because you looked at the statistics like you looked at it and said, well, that could be me. If there aren’t a lot of us out there. I don’t have a lot of role models, but like, now you can be that for somebody else.

Maritza 10:04
Yeah, for sure. And since I graduated not too long ago, I’ve had a lot of conversations with other Latinas or Latinos that want to get their doctorate. And they’ve also same thing, it’s like, we’ve never seen anyone and I don’t even know how to go about it. And myself as a first gen, there’s a lot of things that I didn’t even know to ask, right. And even in counseling, I think most of us as school counselors were like, Oh, they’re first gen, we really have to walk them through. But I think sometimes counselors forget, they don’t even know what questions to ask, because it’s so unknown. And I know I’ve experienced some counselors to tell first gen students like oh, just ask whatever you want. It’s like, they don’t even know what to ask at this point.

Lauren 10:42
Yeah. So if you could go back and see yourself or talk to yourself at the beginning of this journey? What questions would you tell yourself to ask?

Maritza 10:50
That’s a good question.

Lauren 10:51
I mean, it could be in relation to like just researching the doctoral programs to, you know, finding the motivation to balance it or you have so many different things I’m sure you had questions about before you went into it?

Maritza 11:05
Oh, for sure. I think the one thing I do suggest to people that asked me about the doctorate now is use social media. There’s so many social media accounts that can help you walk through what a personal statement is, to all the little hidden rules that happen in academia. Like, it’s not required, but it’s always nice to get presents for your chair and committee when you defense, right? If you’re a first gen, you might not know that.

Lauren 11:29
I’m not first gen, but I wouldn’t know that. I mean, I guess I don’t know if you call it frist gen, I don’t have anyone in my family who has gotten their doctorate. So I wouldn’t have had that experience with those people who are chairing a committee or something for you. I wouldn’t know that.

Maritza 11:42
Yeah. And even when I started doing my journey, I wrote a personal statement, and didn’t really know what it was. But it was like, it’s personal. So I’m just gonna write. But a year after I got into the program, I started following like other doctoral Latina accounts. I was like, Oh, they break down personal statements. Why didn’t I think of social media as a resource?

Lauren 12:01

Maritza 12:02
But I was born in that space when we were just starting to get social media. So yeah, that’s one of the things maybe I would tell myself is make sure you use all of your resources. And I think as, like I said, as a bipoc, first gen, sometimes we’re scared to like, ask for help. Because we don’t want to look dumb, or we don’t want to look, you know, not knowledgeable. But I would say through this experience, that’s the one thing I would do ask for more support, and more help more resources and just kind of crowdsource maybe what’s out there.

Lauren 12:30
And then being on the other end, you probably feel like, of course, I would answer anyone’s questions who was coming from the same situation as me. And so you know, you go from almost being insecure of like, well, I don’t know what to ask, I don’t know who I’d ask, or would they even answer my questions to being on the other end and being so I’m gonna assume you’re way more confident than you were about this process that when you started, that you have a lot to offer somebody who is just like you, you know, before a couple years ago.

Maritza 12:58
Yeah, I actually talked to someone yesterday about the doctoral process. And I was like, Please, let me give you all my knowledge. So you don’t have to walk unknowingly, like I did. So I was like, ask away, and I will, within your questions like, I will try to include details that maybe you’re not asking, because you don’t you don’t know.

Lauren 13:17

Maritza 13:17
So yeah, I’m more than happy to help anyone that wants to get a doctorate. Because it’s also like, I told my co workers, when I was going through it, I was like, it doesn’t mean for me personally, that if you get a doctorate, you’re smarter, it just means you have a higher tolerance for pain.

Lauren 13:32
Or you’re like able to balance it, you’re able to figure things out, you’re resourceful. I mean there’s so many quality that you just prove when you’ve gotten your doctorate.

Maritza 13:42

Lauren 13:43
Okay, so with your PhD there, you’re gonna have more opportunities for research and probably just continued learning which it sounds like you enjoy doing, but also being an adjunct professor, were you a professor before you got your doctorate? Or was that part of the process? And like, what is that like for you now?

Maritza 14:00
Yeah, I was an adjunct at the University where I got my masters for about a semester and a half, I enjoyed it. But that’s when I had to leave halfway through the semester, which I was really disappointed about. And I really had a tough decision to make because I don’t like leaving half way through things, I wanted to go to the end of it. But unfortunately, my father was getting worse. And like I said, because I was power of attorney like, I had to be there for a lot of the time. So I had to, unfortunately tell them like I have to go. And then a couple of months later, he passed. So I’m glad that I was able to spend that time with him.

Maritza 14:35
Now, that I’m adjunct at another university, honestly, I feel more confident in my skill set. I feel more confident because teaching adults is very different than teaching kids. I was a high school history teacher for a while. So this time around, I really feel more comfortable of who I am as my professor identity. I know what kind of professor I want to be. I’ve had no time to think about oooh I don’t like It’s about this professor. And you know, borrowed. I don’t like say stealing, but borrow certain things that other professors did that I really enjoyed. And it seems like my students enjoy to.

Maritza 15:11
So my professional identity, I think was more developed this time around. So I’m definitely having a lot of fun kind of molding some of our future school counselors. And it’s really interesting to hear like, why they got into counseling, I find it always very interesting, the questions that they ask. So this year, for example, I taught practicum, which is a little different, but this year is on ethical or ethics, basically. And it was nice to hear kind of their pros and cons on certain case studies and kind of their thinking process. That was a fun class. I really appreciated that. And then there’s two sessions within the semester. So session two, I’m teaching counseling leadership, which I think on purpose they put me there, because I’m involved in a lot of things.

Lauren 15:54

Maritza 15:54
And so that class is just starting, but it’s really, it’s so far, it’s gone very well,

Lauren 15:59
That’s fun. It kind of keeps you on your toes, especially like an ethics class, I’m sure students are bringing in lots of questions, and you can bring in your past experiences like, no two days are the same. And even if you taught it another semester, it’s going to feel completely different as well.

Maritza 16:13
Exactly. Yeah. It was always interesting to hear, because in California, the practicum hours have changed. So they’re starting earlier. And so they’re already insights observing counselors. So it was really interesting to hear kind of what they’re observing and just always like, this is what the book says. But reality,

Lauren 16:31
This is what’s happening.

Maritza 16:32
Exactly. Yeah, you have the prepared for both the book knowledge is always nice. But, you know, I was like, you have to get used to kind of handling multiple things all at once.

Lauren 16:42

Lauren 16:45
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Lauren 17:10
Inside you’ll find worthwhile, practical and applicable PD that propels you to action and a community full of your people where you can grow, connect and feel validated. Does this sound like the support you’ve been looking for? If so, I want to invite you to check out the Clique Collaborative at

Lauren 17:31
So since you did school for a while you’ve written a dissertation, I’m sure you have some topics that for you are like your passion topics, things that you enjoy doing research about, I would just I’m just curious, what are those for you?

Maritza 17:46
So my dissertation actually started, I thought about that when I was 16. And I didn’t realize it until I was writing it. So my dissertation was a very personal thing. So when I was in high school, we had 5000 students in a school, and 1000 seniors and one high school college counselor.

Lauren 18:04

Maritza 18:04
So everybody got to see her, I was very lucky to get to see her. And it really bothered me that it was based on luck that I got to meet her and she got to help me one on one. That doesn’t exist now within that same school, but the numbers are still pretty high. So you know, when we talk about ASCO, we always say school counselors 1 to 250. But then there’s these other positions that are not technically School Counselor, the title. And their caseload is basically one person to the entire school, which is way too high.

Maritza 18:32
And so I talked in my dissertation about socially, economically disadvantaged Latin X students. That’s the thing with Doctorate’s, your dissertation to have to have a long title. So that’s definitely one of my passion points, kind of helping that population out. And I was very lucky to be able to interview students, and also counselors on three different sites, and kind of get their perspective of where they needed support, and especially the student interviews. It was really eye opening as a school counselor, as a working professional, to hear what other supports they needed as they were going through the college journey that I don’t think most of us are thinking about.

Maritza 19:07
Because we’re just trying to meet the deadlines with them and making sure they complete their applications and their FAFSA and then that’s it. And for the students, it was more of one of the recommendations that they had is to add a component of social emotional, which I’m not sure if it came out because of the pandemic or because of other reasons. But the high schools I was interviewing, they’re 99.9% Latino, and they’re about to go to university campuses that are not. So they’re going from being the majority to being a minority basically.

Maritza 19:07
And they really were hoping to get more social emotional support in terms of what is that transition look like? You know, I’m scared that people don’t look like me. What if they don’t like me? And so all these things, and I’m like, yeah, most high school counselors don’t do an in depth, social emotional lesson of what it is to move on to college. It’s more of you have to do your laundry, you have to do this and that. But the social emotional part is a bit lacking, which was really surprising to hear from the students.

Lauren 20:03
Or considering that for that demographic, like when they’re there, they’re very comfortable in that high school setting. But are we considering that for them when they’re not the majority where they’re going? Like that’s, that’s a different component to add in, and to hear them say, I’m already thinking about that, let my voice be heard so that we can be prepared when we’re in high school.

Maritza 20:23
Exactly. And then the other thing they suggested is more support in terms of like, their college applications, because they’re like, I’m taking AP classes. My teachers have a lot of homework, and I have to do these college applications. I’m like, Yeah, I don’t know what we’re gonna do about that.

Lauren 20:37
But thank you for sharing.

Maritza 20:38
Yeah, but I appreciate your input. So that was the first thing I researched. And then, within my doctoral program, I got interested in writing publications. And so I’ve written about the technology during COVID. And then, like I said, earlier, my passion point is on undocumented students. So I’ve presented and written a chapter on undocumented students as well, just because that population needs a lot of support. When you talk to some undocumented students, they still unfortunately have like the horror story of a counselor telling them, you know, this is as far as you can go, you can’t go any further. And I don’t appreciate hearing that from students.

Maritza 21:15
Like I tell my students, it’s going to be a challenge, it might take longer, but it’s not impossible. You just have to be more patient, and, you know, be willing to wait, unfortunately, which is, you know, not fair to them, either. Because a lot of students I work with, had no control whether they came to this country or not. Right, it was their parents decision and they’re paying the price for it. So we try to do what’s best in whatever situation they might have. And I really know that I have to, like, build a lot of support for especially that population and make sure that the parents trust me, to give me the information I need.

Maritza 21:48
Because sometimes when you ask the kids like, do you have a green card? Or and how did you get here? They don’t know. It’s the parents that know. You know, being undocumented, they’re very scared of government institutions. And that includes a school so you can have our building that trust. So that’s another thing I wrote about. And then like I said, I’m currently working in a chapter with my co writer on College Counseling for an organization. And so we’re in the middle of that process as well. But those are some of the things that I’m interested in.

Lauren 22:15
So you’ve done so much writing? Have you sent those back to that professor who said, you’re not a good writer? Because I think you have things to prove?

Maritza 22:24
No, I haven’t.

Lauren 22:26
Well, that’s neat that I mean, even to see you come full circle, and somewhere where maybe that was like an insecurity. Because this professor said that too. You’re doing so much of that. Now, obviously, your voice is needed. And it’s being heard. And people are saying, speak louder, speak more, write more. And hopefully, that’s an encouragement to you and the work that you’re doing. Because I know that all of those things that you’re passionate about, it’s needed, like we need to be reading about those things, we need to be engaging in those topics, having somebody who has lived it, and then done research and provided that for the field of school counseling is going to just continue to be more and more valuable.

Maritza 23:06
Yeah. And you know, when I was in the middle of my doctorate, so like I said, we’re a cohort model, and it’s just me and another school counselor in the program, we just realized how much you know, people don’t know what school counselors do. So we saw it as an opportunity to kind of educate folks as best as we could. And so personally, I do it for a couple of reasons, honestly, the writing portion of it, is because the ivory tower or higher ed has all these great, like research about what people should do. But unfortunately, it never gets to the actual practitioners.

Maritza 23:34
And so I think me and my co writing partner are good bridge to that of, you know, bridging scholars and practitioners together. And so in all of our presentations, we try to include some research. So you know, folks are knowledgeable about the research that’s there, and then kind of break it down in more practical terms, which is, when you go to a conference as a school counselor, you just want the

Lauren 23:54
You want to walk away with something practical.

Maritza 23:56
Yeah. And so we know that and so we try to do that. And then, you know, the second reason why I decided to pursue the doctoral program is because there’s not a lot of research in school counseling. And the research is very narrow to one or you know, a couple of topics and not wide ranging topics. And so I honestly believe that teachers get a lot of media attention, because there’s so much research about teachers. So I wanted to add more research about school counselors to see if we can advocate, keep advocating for the lower ratios and honestly, maybe hopefully more money.

Lauren 24:30
Well, you reminded me when I talked to Sarah from The Responsive Counselor, she’s very into research, she doesn’t have her doctorate, but she loves research. I told her, you need to go get your doctorate because you would contribute so much to this. But she said the same thing. Like when you’re looking up research articles like journal articles, scholarly things, there’s just not a lot out there for school counselors or it’s more theoretical or they’re all about very similar topics and not the like boots on the ground what’s going in schools, or they’re more clinical focused or therapy focused. Where it kind of can relate to school counseling, but it’s not school counseling. And so that work that you’re doing is just going to be powerful to like, go into a vault where people can read about it, and to know what research is saying. You like get to contribute to that, I hope you’re proud of that.

Maritza 25:20
Thank you. Yeah, I think I hadn’t thought about it that way. So that’s an interesting way to look at it. And yes, I’m still getting adjusted to the new title.

Lauren 25:29
Yeah, you gotta use it everywhere.

Maritza 25:30
I forget. And my friends are like, Ah, no, this is her name. And they add Doctor in there.

Lauren 25:36
Yeah. Well, and then quickly, as we wrap up, I would love to hear you and I met because you are a member of the Clique Collaborative. So I’d love to hear about your experience in that because you’re going on year two of being an annual member. And like, we’ve just been friends on some social media, we got to meet at the ASCA conference in Atlanta. And I just like, appreciate your friendship as a member. Tell us about that, like, what made you join what has made you stay in it? What would you like, share any highlights with other people listening?

Maritza 26:06
Sure. So going back to social media, you know, I was looking at different accounts, and a lot of them are not geared towards high school. So I really appreciated it your account, when I found it, I’m like, yes, finally, someone that understands what I’m going through. Because our ratios were so high at that time in California, I really needed like, quick lessons that I could modify. And so your stuff has been a lifesaver for me, to be honest, we use a lot of your bulletin board to support our students, because it’s like a small thing that we have to add.

Maritza 26:37
So we have the one where for financial aid, we just had to change the date to meet the California requirement. But other than that, it was just printed and put it up there and the kids really liked it, we did it in color, as well. So it really attracted them when they came into the office because that was the first thing they saw. And so sometimes students that wouldn’t necessarily know what FASFA is we’re asking because we had a counter duty. And so I would see kids come in and they’re like, what’s FAFSA? So it would be a nice, like opening.

Lauren 27:06
A conversation starter.

Maritza 27:07
Yeah, you’re a senior, you should probably know what that is. And the other thing that I used was a slideshow about introducing what a school counselor is or what they do, which again, goes to our advocacy skills, and I used it for our first ever Coffee with the Counselors. So you were a part of that and I was really appreciate it.

Lauren 27:26
Love it.

Maritza 27:26
Yeah. And so again, we just modified it for our graduation requirements. But it was nice to have within a couple of seconds, just a whole presentation that we could do. Because for us, we have a couple of languages that we have to translate information in. And so it was nice to not concentrate on more of making the presentation. But more on the how are we going to execute and make sure that the parents understand the slides and what we’re trying to tell them.

Lauren 27:51
So yeah, I think that’s such a good point, like, okay, your population might speak English and Spanish, but you can take resources from the Clique Collaborative and make them applicable to where you are. We have other counselors who work in a strictly virtual setting, or a private school, public school, like all these different settings, but all high school counselors, all serving students, but catering, you know, a certain topic to your population, or what your school looks like, however big or however small it is, you can kind of take an idea and form it to what your community needs or what your students need.

Maritza 28:28
Yeah, exactly. And the other thing we used as I had an intern last year, and we have a small group, and it was all of the groups were very geared towards, like mental health. And so I know you have one on careers. And so I was like, we have a lot of mental health, can myself and my intern do one on careers instead? And we had a lot of interest in that. And so it was nice to use those tools, especially as my intern who’s coming in, and is only there with us a couple of days, not the entire week, it was nice to just hand that to her. And I’m like, modified as you see fit. And, you know, she was able to roll with it and the kids really enjoyed it. So yeah, I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m grateful for your resources. And ultimately, just I know, we moved to a different community.

Maritza 29:11
But before with the Facebook, it was just nice to see other counselors ask questions are going through the same things I was going through and reading some of the responses, or being able to help other counselors that, you know, we’re going through something that we went through and were able to solve and just that community. I think sometimes, you know, it can be a little isolating, whether even if you’re in like, with five people on a high school campus, you only have the ideas of those five people. So it’s up to go online and figure out you know, other people that you can ask that might have a very creative or more flexible way of thinking of things and just create, you know, community with them.

Lauren 29:49
Right. So some people who are in our community are rural counselors who don’t have anyone in their district or some are solo at a career center or an alternative school, but even like you said, if you’re on a team of five, maybe your other four people are like ready to retire, they don’t care about talking about ideas. They’re like, the people who they don’t even need to be in this profession anymore. And you need to find your people, come and ask questions and share what has worked for you. Or, like you said, if you had this great program, and it worked, you share that as somebody’s asking a question. And I just think like, more minds together, are going to make us more successful and just more creative, like school counseling is a creative job, we’re problem solvers. So the more people we have doing that together, the better.

Maritza 30:33
Yeah, and I think you do a really good job of creating a safe space to because there’s, you know, other Facebook groups, it can be, you know, could get a little chippy. And a person asks a question, you know, other people respond, and it’s like, oh, maybe you read it with a different tone. But you know, and the Clique Collaborative, it really is very professional, in a sense. And, you know, I don’t ever feel like someone’s going to come and bite my head off to like, and I think other people feel the same way.

Maritza 31:00
Because we’re being vulnerable and asking other people, you know, something that we might not know. So it’s taking a lot of bravery from us to actually ask the question, and the last thing you want is for someone that doesn’t know you unnecessarily on social media to kind of bite your head off. So I really want to thank you for just creating that safe space as well, because I think that’s what puts the collaborative apart from other groups.

Lauren 31:23
Thank you for saying that. But it’s something that like I really value and I hope that other people see as well, because like you said, if you don’t even have that relationship in real life to know each other. It’s kind of hard to form that all those relationships online, but to know that it’s safe and you can come with questions is like very reassuring and a community aspect where that’s what we’re trying to nurture and what a goal of that would be. So thank you for saying that.

Lauren 31:48
Okay, we covered so many different things, and I’m so appreciative of your experiences and your expertise. Give us a plug for your podcast, because you are a podcast host as well. And I know if listeners are listening to this, and they’re already podcast listeners, they’re gonna enjoy listening to yours.

Maritza 32:04
Yeah, thank you for allowing me to plug the podcast. So myself and Munna created this podcast because we want to create more advocacy for school counselors. And so our podcast is called Beyond Guidance, Adventures of School Counseling. We use the word guidance, ironically, of course. So we’re available on most podcast platforms. But you can also check us out on Instagram. And on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Lauren 32:27
Cool, well, we’ll link that all in the show notes so that everyone has access to it and can pop over there and listen to some of your episodes and follow you on social media and continue following along your journey. Because like I said, you share really great things and this might be a dumb question. Is your dissertation like out there for us to like read? Or where can we like find more of your research, if people are interested in your passion projects, too?

Maritza 32:50
Sure. So the chapter books are available, and you know, the books and they’re all linked on my social media. And the dissertation is on ProQuest, you can find it, it is embargoed for a little bit as I hopefully write an article about it, but it shouldn’t be available within the year. But if you really want to read it, my passion work, you can just contact me and I will more than gladly give that to you.

Lauren 33:13
Awesome. Well, thanks for being here. Maritza, Dr. Cha, I’ve got to use your doctor name so that we don’t forget about all the hard work that you’ve put in there.

Maritza 33:23
Thank you so much for having me.

Lauren 33:26
Thank you, Dr. Maritza, for that amazing conversation, I know that you will have inspired people to think about getting their doctorate in the future. I know that you have inspired me to pursue thinking about it, I’ve always thought about it, but getting to talk to you makes it more of a reality and maybe something that I actually would pursue in the future. So I appreciate the conversation and I know that listeners will as well.

Lauren 33:50
Now, as our last little announcement before I sign off for today, I want you to remember that the Clique collaborative is now open. You can join as a monthly member or as an annual member, and right now until February 8th for about a month. If you join as any monthly or annual, you’ll get our special bonuses that are included, so that as a high school counseling curriculum map, the high school counseling credit check spreadsheet, and a discount for my audio course for new high school counselors. You can read more about that all about the bonuses and everything that’s included for everyone on

Lauren 34:27
I hope you’d consider what Maritza enjoyed about the membership and if any of that resonated with you, that you would just jump in and explore it a little more and see if that is something that you would benefit from as well as the high school counselor. The go check out The Clique Collaborative, my high school counseling membership. Doors are open right now, and I’ll see you next week.

Lauren 34:53
Thanks for listening to today’s episode of High School Counseling Conversations. All the links I talked about today can be found in the shownotes and also at Be sure to hit follow wherever you listen to your podcasts so that you never miss a new episode. Connect with me over on Instagram. Feel free to send me a DM @counselorclique. That’s CLIQUE. I’ll see you next week.


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