As the Career Counselor for Diverse Students and Program Lead for Career Readiness in SJSU’s Career Center, Sandra De Leon says she can “empathize with students who are feeling stressed or anxious about the uncertainty of their career paths.” She understands their struggle, she says, “because as a student I felt lost and unsure about what I wanted to do.”
De Leon, ’13 MA Counselor Education, guides SJSU students on their journey toward opportunities in Silicon Valley and beyond, counseling and connecting them with employers. Her own persistence was fostered by her Mexican immigrant parents, who supported their two daughters in the United States and family back in their native country, having come here with little education but great drive.
“My father finished elementary school and my mother was only able to complete second grade,” De Leon says, noting that her father later earned a G.E.D. “They both always had a hunger for education, but other family responsibilities did not allow them to pursue those goals. They always instilled in my sister and me the value of education. It is because of them that I grew up seeing education as a privilege.”
De Leon’s sister was the first in their extended family to attend college and De Leon soon followed, studying cultural anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz before earning a master’s degree and pupil personnel services credential in counselor education at SJSU.
A fascination with learning about how an individual’s culture, environment, upbringing and personality can shape their lives and career led De Leon to a counseling career where she “can listen and learn about people’s stories and use those to inform how to best support them. We each have our own unique story, challenges and talents that shape who we are.”
A Career Center peer advisor while pursuing her master’s degree, De Leon now guides students toward making a successful transition into the workforce by helping them tell their own stories to prospective employers.
“Employers have expressed that SJSU students have perseverance, a willingness to embrace new opportunities and an eagerness to learn, which makes them appealing to hire,” says De Leon. “To be able to guide students as they engage in their own career journeys and support them through their challenges brings me fulfillment and a sense of purpose.”