Creciendo Juntos

Creciendo Juntos


Tell us a little bit about yourself; your name, pronouns, where you are from, where you grew up, and where do you currently work?
My name is Rose Emily Gonzalez, my friends call me Emily. Only my Dad called me Rose (he also celebrated my birthday on a different day) and I prefer it that way. My pronouns are she/her/ella. I have two brothers and one sister. My father was from Vieques, Puerto Rico and my mother is from Cadiz, Spain. I am everything I am because of my parents.

What was your life like growing up in____?

I was born in the Bronx (New York, go Yankees), but we moved to Italy shortly after my brother Ralph was born. I grew up overseas, primarily in Germany (Baumholder, Wiesbaden) and Italy (Vicenza). My dad was in the Army, and we were fortunate to spend most of our childhood in Europe. My mom’s side of the family lives in Spain and so we spent many of our summers in Spain when I was growing up. Some of my best friends are the ones that I met in high school and college in Munich and Wiesbaden.
I received my Bachelors from the University of Maryland, my Master’s degree in Psychology from Loyloa College in Baltimore, and my Ph.D. doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from SUNY Albany. I completed by pre-doctoral training at the Mailman Center for Child Development in Miami and completed two postdoctoral residencies in child maltreatment/forensics before working for a couple of years at JMU teaching and working at the Child Development Center. I moved to Massachusetts in 2001 and had been working in the hospital and schools until about 5 years ago when I moved to Charlottesville. I moved here primarily to be closer to my mother and sister, who live about 3 hours away.
I currently work at UVA Children’s Hospital. I am an associate professor of pediatrics and pediatric psychologist. I provide services for the Divisions of Developmental Pediatrics and Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. I provide assessment and intervention services for children experiencing a wide range of medical and developmental challenges; I consider myself fortunate to be surrounded by superheroes of all ages all day long. I learn a lot from the children I work with, mostly about the power of the internal voice and the tenacity of the human spirit. Mostly, however, I learn about what it means to be brave and what it really means to not take anything for granted. Life is not a dress rehearsal.

What brought you to Charlottesville? Or what was your journey to Charlottesville like?
I moved to Charlottesville 5 years ago from western Massachusetts with my daughter Arianna and our two Airedale terriers Jackson and Ellie (who have since passed on to dog heaven and are probably teaching all the other dogs where the peanut butter is kept and where all the best raspberry bushes are). This year Ari and brought home another puppy named Archie. He also goes by Archie the Naughty One, or Archie Stop-it, or Archie-No-Bite. We love him so much.

What sparked your inspiration or motivation in pursuing your current career? Has it always been the same goal? If not, what was the journey like?
I’ve always been fascinated by human behavior, and by the experiences and personal characteristics/resources that help children overcome adversity. I’m interested in how different dynamics and interpersonal attachments contribute to children’s resilience. I am also interested in different cultural formulations of mental health and hope to continue expanding my work on developing improved culturally and trauma-informed care. The field of pediatric psychology has a way to go in developing appropriate assessment and intervention tools for diverse cultural, ethnic, and diverse populations but I am inspired by the advances in this area that I have witnessed over the last 20 years. If I had to choose a different pathway, I would probably still be a pediatric psychologist, but I would also have pursued a law degree and would practice in the area of immigration.

How has living in Charlottesville shaped your experience as a Latinx individual?
My childhood experiences shaped my identity.

How would you currently define yourself and the role you play within our community?
I would say that I consider myself to be a helper and an advocate for children’s rights. I am particularly invested in advocating for immigrant/refugee children’s rights and work to promote equity in their access to care and resources.

Could you tell us about your interests and passions both in working with the Latinx community of Charlottesville and anything else you enjoy doing?

I enjoy reading, cooking, growing flowers so that my dogs can snap them off and run around the yard like flamenco dancers holding the stems (I don’t grow roses and peonies for this reason, but this is what eventually happens to the flowers I grow – I need to get a bit more creative), taking walks with my dog, Sunday drives along Skyline drive, spending time with my daughter and my family and friends. My daughter (adopted from Guatemala) sings, plays piano, and plays lacrosse and field hockey, so I get to spend a lot of time watching her shine. We spend a lot of time in Massachusetts in the summers going to Cape Cod (Brewster) and visiting our friends in Amherst, Leveret, and Pelham. My best friend is my sister and I try to spend as much time as I can with her.

What are some challenges you faced working here in Charlottesville? How were you able to overcome it?
No challenges. UVA has been a wonderful place to work; I really appreciate its commitment to equity and inclusion, and my colleagues are all supportive of one another.
Do you have any fun or personal goals for yourself in this upcoming 2020 year?
I am hoping to add on to our family (another dog). I would like to find more time to travel. I hope to return to India (I do child development research in India), it’s a beautiful country and I’ve made many friends there over the last few years. I would like to introduce my daughter to this beautiful country, its culture and its people. In general, I am just hoping to travel more. And read more.
What are some life lessons you want to share with our community? My mentor once told me that I might have only five minutes with a child, and that I needed to make each minute count. I’ve never forgotten that, and this advice has helped me make sure that I’m always fully present with the children and families I work with. Another lesson that has resonated for me and remained strong in my heart is a conversation with an elderly man I once had when I was working on my dissertation almost 22 years ago. He had the most beautiful hands, the kindest eyes, and when he spoke it sounded like he sang. I was interviewing him and he was describing a pretty hard life, he was very poor, had many health problems, and had sustained many losses in his life. When I asked him to tell me what he was most proud of, he shared that he looked forward to eating a home-cooked meal once a week (spaghetti and apple pie) that he liked to make and share with his friends – most of the other days he ate at different shelters. He asked me to remember that I should always try to have something to look forward to, and that I should always be proud of what I could offer to others, no matter how small it might seem to other people. I guess another life lesson that I’ve been fortunate to receive has been the opportunity to witness the courage of children. I’ve met many children through the years how have witnessed or who have undergone or are facing/have faced some of the most unimaginable events – and yet through most of these children I have learned that what children want most of all is to feel that they matter, to feel that they are the center of someone’s universe, and to feel that there is an adult in their life that is in control of life when it gets hard. And Goldfish. I’ve learned that most kids will do a lot of things for payment in Goldfish. And Candy. Most kids like candy.

Interviewed by Elizabeth Valtierra
Click Here for March 2020 Newsletter

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