Alum of the Month

February 2019

February 2019
Dana Caraballo

(MSEd, Rehabilitation Counseling in Mental Health, ’17)

Q & A:

  • What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
    I can’t say that I had a favorite class, since each class covered a different area in depth. I enjoyed all of my professors, as they each had their own teaching style and brought something different to the learning environment. My fondest memory of Hofstra was being inducted into Chi Sigma Iota Honor Society, as well as being part of the next cohort’s induction process as an e-board member.
  • What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing learned in that position?
    Due to my internship with the Project Outreach Outpatient-Richmond Hill location, I was offered a part-time vocational counselor position in October, which turned into a full-time position at Outreach House I as a primary mental health counselor. I was fortunate enough to have been hired the month I was graduating, and after a second time interviewing, as I was not originally given a full-time opportunity with the organization.

    Being a primary mental health counselor has challenged me to be patient; creative in utilizing various counseling techniques, depending on the client’s level of motivation to be in treatment; and aware of the importance of establishing strong and consistent boundaries, as well as the significance of self-care and time management. Over time, I have strengthened my leadership skills and assisted with implementing new program ideas.
  • What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
    My field of specialty is mental health and substance use within the adolescent population. I came to work in this industry after serving as an after-school coordinator for three years at SUNY Old Westbury, where I received my undergraduate degree. I worked with youth 5-12 years old, and spent a lot of time programming, counseling students, and mediating family issues. This motivated me to become a school counselor. I felt Hofstra University’s program was the best fit for me, and after speaking with the Rehabilitation Counseling in Mental Health program director, I was sold on the program. The rest is history!
  • What advice would you give Hofstra students?
    My advice to Hofstra students is to take advantage of all of the opportunities the school has to offer, and maintain contact with your program director and program staff, as they play a role in obtaining resources and references. Networking is key to professional development!
  • In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
  • What is a typical day like as a primary health counselor at Outreach House I-Adolescent Residential Services?
    There is no typical day at Outreach House I. Anything can happen at any time; that’s what makes my job so exciting, yet stressful.
  • As a primary health counselor, you manage a caseload of eight to 10, 12 to 18 year-old clients with co-occurring disorders. How do you balance working with various clients, and what is your strategy for successfully executing effective individual counseling sessions?
    I balance working with various clients by keeping abreast of each client’s schedule in terms of group assignments, family, medical, and school appointments in order to ensure that I see them on a day they are not out of the house or involved in another session.

    Typically, I will give a client an assigned day and communicate what time they will meet with me. Each client is different, and as I build rapport with the client after each session, I determine what counseling approach is best for them. It helps to reflect on what you felt and would have wanted as a teenager if you had the opportunity to have a counselor, so I take those thoughts and feelings into consideration when working with my clients.
  • What has been the most rewarding experience in your career thus far, and why?
    The most rewarding experience thus far has been connecting with various middle and high schools to facilitate speaking engagements where clients present their journey and educate their peers based on personal experiences. The outcome is very impactful and life changing. It is very fulfilling for me to see students, send clients letters, and receive emails from my network stating that they have observed an increase in requested counseling services after a speaking engagement.

    Another rewarding experience was being recognized by my team as a Gold Star Employee after working at Outreach House I for one year. In addition, my program director nominated me for the Julio Martinez Scholarship, and I was selected as a recipient.
Dana Caraballo

Dana Caraballo is a certified rehabilitation counselor and licensed mental health counselor. She jump-started her career by working for Project Outreach, an organization that inspires adolescents, adults, and families to achieve unlimited potential through high-quality, evidence-based substance abuse treatment and Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) training programs.

Having interned for Project Outreach, where she assisted in the Vocational Department at Outreach’s outpatient clinic in Richmond Hill, Queens, NY, Dana was offered a part-time position as a vocational counselor. Three months later, she was offered a full-time position as a primary mental health counselor at Outreach House I, a three to nine-month residential therapeutic community with a six-month aftercare program attached for adolescents 12-18 years old. Dana quickly demonstrated her ability to take on leadership roles and implement new ideas into the program. Within her first year, she received the Agency Gold Star, an award that recognizes employees who demonstrate a willingness to go above and beyond, offering support and guidance to those around them while remaining positive despite challenges.

Within a year and a half, Dana was promoted to vocational coordinator of Outreach House I. In addition, the program director of Outreach House I nominated Dana for the Julio Martinez Scholarship in September 2018, which she went on to receive.

Outside of work, Dana is an active member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority of the Eta Nu Sigma Brooklyn and Queens alumnae chapter. Dana enjoys engaging in community service projects with her sorority sisters.

Dana's long-term goal is to establish her own nonprofit organization for at-risk adolescents (ages 13-18). Dana envisions her future nonprofit organization as a vital community resource that will serve as a safe haven in efforts to decrease gang involvement, substance use, suicide, and high school dropout rates. The organization will strive to promote independence, self-discovery, academic excellence, mental health awareness, inclusivity, and diversity among youths by supporting one another through a variety of programming.