Updated: Nov 14
By Raja Saadiq-Saoud & Samantha Sanchez
This week was National School Psychology Week, where we celebrate and show our appreciation to the school psychologists who support our students through a period of transition, whether that be from being a middle schooler to being a high schooler, or from being a teen to being an adult. At Rialto High School, our two school psychologists are Marcello Ruvalcaba and Pryscilla Lopez. The two were asked about their thoughts on their career, as well as their impact on our school. Ruvalcaba shares, “Thank you for considering us for School Psychology Week and I appreciate this interview! I wasn’t expecting this, it was cool!”
Mr. Ruvalcaba Q & A:
What inspired you to take on this career?
Going into college, psychology was an interesting subject. I didn’t think I would land on school psychology, because it seemed like it’d be the most boring with all the paperwork and testing. However, as I went further into my education, during my Masters in counseling, I realized that it was an option. When I grew up, there wasn’t a lot of support. I always saw a lot of friends and people who struggled, fell through the cracks, got into drugs, and dropped out. I lived in a bad neighborhood, so I guess during my education I thought a lot about that. I knew that there could be more. It was a career in which I could help and have an impact on struggling students.
Describe the perks of your job.
I’d say the perks to this job are the school setting, who you’re able to work with, and being able to be the support that didn’t exist before. It can be really rewarding to help others, despite any other difficulties I might have. You make friendships. You guide students who might not have had the resources otherwise.
Describe the biggest challenge you faced on your journey.
On the way here, the biggest challenge was figuring out life, due to financial costs. It worked out okay for me, but getting the loans and tuition taken care of was a real challenge. There was an internship I had to take, but I couldn’t work during it. So it was a lot of sacrifice sometimes. As for the field, I’d say working around other factors in a student’s life is challenging. You have to think of the family, school environment, and things that can’t be prevented. Sometimes it can drain you, as you’re often the middle man. It can get pretty sad, but you just have to be their rock and try to get things moving forward again.
What kind of support do you have in your career?
I have support at home, from my wife and family. Sometimes I need to vent and need someone to talk to, so I’m grateful they’re there. Or I have colleagues, as there are 21 of us in the district. At Rialto High, I have the other school psychologist, Ms. Lopez, here with me. It’s nice because our ideas can bounce off of each other and we help each other out.
How many years did it take to get to where you are now?
To get to this point, it took me about 5 years in psychology to get my bachelor's, then 2 years in counseling for my master's. You need a minimum of a master's to be a school psychologist, then an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) credential which took me around 3 years. So in total, it took me somewhere between 9 to 10 years.
Ms. Lopez Q & A:
Describe the most heartwarming moment about your job.
I would have to say attending graduation ceremonies. [It’s] definitely nice to see all the students walk across the stage, and we can cheer them on [and] we can wave.
What would you say to a student who would also like to be a school psychologist one day?
I would say ‘go for it’ because I enjoy my job, so I would definitely recommend it.
Describe your plans for the future.
For the time being, I don’t see myself changing my career at all, I think I’m happy with being a school psychologist, and I think I’ll remain a school psychologist for a long time.
How do you think you’ve made an impact on the students at Rialto?
I’ve made an impact on students' education, but also I think it has a big impact when we’re able to establish a relationship with them, and they know they’re able to come to us whenever they’re in need, whether it be academic or emotional.
Describe the importance of school psychologists on a high school campus.
School psychologists are important in that we have the role to help support a student’s academic functioning, social functioning, emotional functioning, and even address behavior, and all those aspects are important to be successful in school.