Joanna Carrasco is a Social Work major with a minor in Pastoral Ministries. This interview was taken on Rockland campus during her senior year.
What is your major? What year are you?
I am a senior Social Work major and I am also minoring in Pastoral Ministry. They both connect but are entirely different all at the same time and I am very passionate about both!
What interested you about your major?
When I first began high school, I was very rebellious and it got to the point where I had to see my high school social worker. She was a wonderful and a very helpful person in my life and it took me a very long time to acknowledge that. Unfortunately, she was cut from my school due to budget cuts when I was in 11th grade but she helped motivate me enough to the point where I was able to graduate on time. After high school, I went to a community college and, since they didn’t have a social work major, I majored in Mental Health and Human Services, which is a lot like social work. I graduated with my Associates Degree and as soon as I got to Nyack (after a long year of going to another 4 year college) I decided to apply for the Social Work Major. My minor I picked up because I know God has called me into ministry and to help others become more aware of mental illnesses. I believe through God, we can be healed of all things and this is where both majors come hand in hand with one another.
Where are you from? What is your family like?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York (woop woop)! I moved to Newburgh, New York when I was 20 years old but I will always be a Brooklyn girl. In terms of my family, I have 3 sisters, 2 of them are older and one is 15 years younger than me. I have a nephew as well from my oldest sister. My mom is a single mom and has been for the past 13 years. My dad passed away in a car accident when I was a senior in high school and this year marked 5 years since my dad has passed away. I am the only one in my immediate family, if not my whole family, who is a Christian. At first, it was hard for my family to adjust and accept the fact that I accepted Jesus in my heart but our relationships have grown stronger and stronger each day, and I give all praise and glory to God for that.
What prompted you to join ‘Woman Rites of Passage’?
I joined Woman because I am the only woman in my immediate family who is a Christian. I don’t have anyone in my family that can help me in this process of becoming a Woman of God and I wanted to take the opportunity of having a mentor to be alongside me through this next stage of my life. Since I became a Christian, my mom feels like she doesn’t understand me and that has made our relationship hard. There has been one Christian woman in my life who took the time to mentor me and I will always be forever grateful for her. I want to take things further, especially since I am getting married in June, to learn more about myself and to become the Woman of God that He called me to be. I also wanted to build community with other women because I do tend to keep to myself from time to time and I want to be able to be open and, one day, share my testimony to others who might have gone through the same thing as me.
Do you know any alumni from this program? How were they affected?
I know a couple of alumni from the program. One of them is Xelena Santiago. One of the ways Woman changed her life was helping her find her identity in Christ and not being afraid to stand up for herself. She has also seen and noticed how much she has changed from the book we are supposed to read, “The Book of Womanhood” by Amy Davis Abdallah and she continuously uses it as a reference to help remind herself of who she is in Christ.
Tell us a little bit about what you’ve done so far in the program.
Since the semester just begun, we only had our Initiation into Woman Ceremony on Sunday, September 16 in Shuman Hall. It was amazing to get to dress up (for once) and be in a room full of women who are walking alongside this journey with me. We were initiated into the Woman 2019 program and we got a book, a workbook, and a tea cup! We also planted tulips as a symbol of how we are going to grow in creation in which Jesus made. There was a candlelit ceremony that represented Jesus being a light into our lives and we got to sit down and talk with our mentors and the other women who are in the program to get to know them better!
What is your greatest goal to achieve this year as a participant of women?
I want to be more sure of myself. I am very shy and sometimes insecure of myself and I want Jesus to heal that from me. There are a lot of things in my past that have made me become this reserved person and instead of letting that hold back the potential God gave me, I want to share it to help others. I also want to become better at managing my time. I am a very good organizer and planner but I am terrible at managing my time and taking on too much. I want to know that more about myself and know when to say no. I can be a little bit of a pushover sometimes and I want to be able to use my voice in a good way.
Who’s your mentor? And why this person?
My mentor is Wanda Velez. I chose Wanda because I remember when she interviewed me for my first year as an RA and I remember thinking, “Wow, we have a lot in common.” When it got to the point of having to choose my mentor, I had two people in mind but Wanda was ultimately the choice I went with just because of that initial meeting we had with each other. I recently met with her this week and God truly confirmed that our stories, concerning our past, were very similar. I know God has placed us together in order for us both to grow with each other and learn from one another. I also know God is going to use her to help me be more open with the things that have happened in my past that I have not yet accepted or spoken out loud. To me, Wanda Velez is a very strong woman and I can see how God moves through her life. She has two other mentees and I cannot wait to get to know them more as well.