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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

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Meet the heartfelt heroes of Gabrielino’s school counseling staff

  At Gabrielino High School, a devoted staff of counselors follows the motto: “students first.” These counselors, who embody the values of advocacy, mentorship, and friendship, collaborate to ensure that every student receives the most effective assistance and guidance. With a focus on equity and accessibility, they establish a welcoming environment in which students feel empowered to manage the highs and lows of their high school experience.

   Monica Hagge

  Monica Hagge, who has been a counselor at Gabrielino for 16 years, is deeply dedicated to guiding students through their high school years. Initially drawn to therapy, Hagge focused on school counseling during graduate studies, motivated by a desire to witness and aid in the ups and downs of a high schooler’s life.

  “I’ve been very fortunate because I kept my part of the alphabet for sixteen years, so I have developed knowing families,” Hagge stated.  

  Hagge’s strong connection to her own family demonstrates her pleasure in establishing familial bonds with her students. Her sensitive approach to counseling creates a lasting impression on the students she speaks to, reflecting the transformational power of kindness and connection.

  “There are a lot of kids who do not feel heard and I think listening will help them understand they are not alone in their challenge,” she said sincerely. “Listening goes a long way.” 

   Bonnie Chan

  Though this is Bonnie Chan’s first year as a school counselor at Gabrielino, she brings a lot of passion and attention to her job. With over a decade of experience in various areas, including as a translator for the San Gabriel Unified School District, Chan’s path to counseling has been led by her dedication to student assistance.

  “The counselors have all helped me to grow as a first-year counselor,” Chan said with a smile. “I have so many questions I ask them every day and they always help me.”

  With a master’s degree in education in school counseling, Chan’s drive for counseling is distinguished by a desire to understand and assist the different needs of her students and their families. Chan receives inspiration from her everyday conversations with her students and values the reciprocal learning process that happens within the counseling relationship.

  “School is supposed to be a safe place for [students] and that I am a safe person for them, they can express what they want to share with me,” Chan stated genuinely. 

 Jacqueline Borja

  Jacqueline Borja has been a committed school counselor for the past 28 years at Gabrielino. After finishing her master’s program at Loyola Marymount University, coincidentally her high school counselor was working at Gabrielino at the time Borja joined the counselor staff. 

  “If you were to ask me at the age of eighteen, would you think about being a high school counselor? I would say no way, I do not have patience,” Borja chuckled.

  Borja’s career path shifted from law to counseling, motivated by her desire to assist students in navigating their academic and emotional paths. Her international travel and volunteer work at her former high school fueled her passion for counseling, prompting her to pursue it full-time.

  “Because of my situation, I tell students that you are going to change your major and that is okay, go with your passion and do something you love doing,” she advised.

  Borja considers Gabrielino High School to be her second home. Borja is inspired by her kids’ perseverance and ability to overcome problems, and she values the progress she sees from freshman to senior year and beyond.

   Maribel Arreola-González

  Maribel Arreola-González, a counselor at Gabrielino for three years, brings over two decades of community service experience to her work. Arreola-González, who holds a Bachelor of Science from Cal State Los Angeles and a master’s degree in counseling in education from National University, focuses on her students’ overall growth.

  “My goal for every student is for them to feel accomplished,” she stated confidently. “It doesn’t matter what level you start at, in my opinion, it’s where you are going to take it.” 

  Arreola-González’s philosophy emphasizes the significance of social-emotional development alongside academic performance, acknowledging its influence on student progress. She strives to make every student feel successful by supporting them in exploring their passions and developing a route to a rewarding future.

  “I enjoy not just working with the student but with families as a whole,” she stated. “I am able to navigate all of the different stakeholder groups in the education of a student.”

 Amanda Ly   

Amanda Ly’s path as a school counselor at Gabrielino is both personal and professional. Ly, who started her counseling position in August 2016, has strong connections in  San Gabriel, having grown up in the area herself. Her commitment to school counseling was clear even throughout her graduate studies when she sought internships to work directly with pupils.

  “I would love for every student to be able to have the skills that they need,” Ly said with a grin. “Not only academics but the soft skills whether it’s in college, workforce or in life.”

  Ly has a humanistic approach to therapy. She focuses on providing a secure and comfortable place for students to express questions and make connections. Reflecting on her own academic experience, Ly recalled her college advisor’s pivotal question regarding other careers regarding helping kids, which shifted her professional goals from helping youth before they reach the juvenile system to high school counseling. 

  “It would have been nice to be able to have somebody to feel connected to outside of the academics,” Ly recalled. “I want to be that for somebody.”

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About the Contributor
Bren Belmonte, Staff Writer
Bren Belmonte is a Photographer and Staff Writer with three years of experience on our newspaper team. Outside of journalism, Bren enjoys cosplaying, photographing friends, reading manga, watching anime, and listening to music. Bren chose the journalism class in sophomore year after encouragement from family members in the industry. Since then, they've recognized it as a future passion and career interest.
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