Student Profile: Stephanie Maglinao is working to normalize mental health and neurodiversity for school-aged children

Monday, January 9, 2023
Stephanie Maglinao

GGSE: What past experiences made you want to become a school psychologist?
Stephanie Maglinao: So many! Growing up in Hawaii shaped my unique multicultural orientation and values. For the past 14 years, I’ve loved working with children in the San Francisco Bay Area as either a behavior therapist, preschool teacher, or special education paraprofessional. My experiences at a local non-profit agency that served children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) opened my eyes to the essential healthcare services for families. I noticed the need to reduce disparities in the quality and access to mental health services for those historically marginalized.

While all of these opportunities sparked my interest and passion for working with families of multicultural and multilingual backgrounds, it was my time at a local elementary school that solidified my interest in working with school-aged children and meeting them where they are—a diverse school system! There, a mentor provided me with a chance to learn about the Response to Intervention process. As a behavior analyst supervisee, I got to consult with educators on supporting students with behavioral challenges. I was awe-inspired by their established Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) in place (led by a school psychologist admin), their commitment to the process, and the shared vision for all students to succeed.

As I sought to pursue a career that promoted social justice and mental health while celebrating diversity in an educational setting, the field of school psychology intersected with this and my passion for supporting students of diverse needs and backgrounds. I knew then that becoming a school psychologist was meant for me.

GGSE: What led you to choose the School Psychology M Ed. program at UCSB?
Maglinao: I honestly didn’t know that UCSB’s program was opening for M.Ed. applications, but they serendipitously did the same year I was ready to apply! When choosing a school psychology program, I realized that each had a different focus, background, and history. I specifically chose UCSB for its focus on NASP-led, research/evidence-based practices that spoke of the high level of standards and training they provided to their students.

Additionally, UCSB has a background and history in serving diverse student populations. As a Filipino immigrant and first-generation college student, it was important for me to be in a supportive environment and institution committed to promoting diversity and inclusion. So far, it’s been a great learning experience here at UCSB. I’m so excited to be a part of the first cohort of the (reinstated) program! Also, who wouldn’t want to attend a school near the beautiful beaches of Santa Barbara?

GGSE: In your future as a school psychologist, which population do you hope to work with and why?
Maglinao: I would love to begin working at an elementary school with a diverse population. My hope is to support students of different backgrounds and help lead schools in mental health advocacy and evidence-based practices focused on the strengths and resiliency of the students. Growing up, I noticed the lack of resources and a perpetuated stigma of mental disorders that allowed barriers to exist. I plan to work with school-aged children to normalize mental health and neurodiversity while providing a school-wide tiered model of support/resources for social-emotional, behavioral, and academic support.

GGSE: What is your favorite thing to do when you have free time?
Maglinao: Whenever I get a chance, I love visiting and spending time with my family in Oahu, Hawaii and Tracy, California. I also like going on long walks to the park with my fiancé and our two little dogs, going shopping at farmers' markets on the weekends, and exploring my new surroundings here in Southern California.