Q&A: Academic case carrier counselor helps students overcome challenges

By NORYAH COPAS

Sophia Malsher-Lopez is an academic case carrier counselor in the Redlands Unified School District. Malsher-Lopez is known as Ms. Sophia by her students and visits different schools, including Citrus Valley High School. 

What is your position or title? 

Academic Case Carrier Counselor

Pronouns?

she, her and hers

What are some of the main responsibilities with this position?

As a counselor, my main responsibilities are to ensure that students are successful academically and in their personal lives.  I help students with academic challenges, social challenges, mental health challenges, homelife challenges and help prepare them for life after high school. 

How long have you worked in education?

I have worked in education for seven years.

Have you held any jobs outside of education? 

Yes, I previously worked in the business sector and worked for a publishing company in the motorsport industry.  I dedicated nine years to Racer Media & Marketing and started out as an office manager and ended as an advertising manager

 What made you choose this job?  

My sister-in-law recognized I could be ideal material for becoming a counselor.  She encouraged me to apply for a position as a Career Coach so I did and loved the job within minutes!  I thought, “What have I been doing with my life?!”  I helped students with college and career readiness.  I immediately went back to school to get my Master’s degree in School Counseling. 

What is one of your favorite parts of your job?

My favorite part of being a counselor is working with students and helping them overcome barriers so they can be successful. Everyone deserves happiness and success and there can be many obstacles that get in the way of that, so I love to equip them with the tools necessary to both give the best of themselves and earn the best for themselves.   

What’s the hardest part of your job?

The hardest part of my job is to mentally shut off at the end of the working day.

Did you have any mentors or role models growing up? How did they influence you?

Both my parents are hard workers yet endured very troubled times from their late teens through to their early 40s, a period where they went down potentially self-destructive avenues. They have shown me it is possible to overcome barriers and difficulties and find a way back to the right path – which undoubtedly contributes to my belief that the work I do can help nudge students in a direction that can lead to happiness and fulfillment. As for my parents, both have qualities that I admire and try to emulate:  my mother has the biggest heart I know and loves unconditionally, while my father is ambitious and never gives up.   

Is there an experience or event that had a major influence on who or where you are today?

I was never a studious person; I actually disliked school.  I knew I had to go to college because that was what my father wanted for his children.  He never wanted us to do physical work, he wanted us to build our brains and use them in the careers we chose.  It took me 12 years to get my Bachelor’s degree; it typically takes 4-6 years.  I learned to never give up and to just keep going even when you fail or it feels like a never ending journey.   

What advice would you give your teenage self?

Pay attention in school!

Which languages do you speak?

English and Spanish/Spanglish

Do you have skills, interests or hobbies that you would like to share?

I like to hike, travel and eat.  I am interested in history and love to learn about different cultures and ways of living. 

What do you enjoy doing most with family and friends?

I love to create memories by trying new things, going to new places or spending the holidays together.

What is a goal you have?  

Although school is not my thing, I plan to finish my doctoral program within two years.

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