Yurimar Santiago, a CADCA Youth Trainer, will graduate this June with a Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy from Texas Woman’s University. In this blog post, Yurimar shares her journey in the prevention field, her future goals and how the two intersect.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Yurimar was first introduced to prevention work when she became the youth sector representative of her local coalition, Coalición de Prevención Moroveña, in 2014. She remained an active member throughout high school where she had the opportunity to attend several CADCA training events.
“I think this feeling is something that would resonate with most of the CADCA Youth Leadership trainers, but every time I went to Mid-Year or the National Leadership Forum as an attendee, I had that small dream of becoming a trainer. It wasn’t until my first year at Texas Woman’s University that I got the official invitation to join the team,” said Yurimar.
“I started as a youth trainer in 2018, and every experience that I have had involving CADCA, first as an attendee, and then as a youth trainer, has shaped me into who I am and developed me as a professional. Something that I really value and treasure from the Youth Leadership department is that after they prepare you to become a trainer, they empower you to build your own materials and develop your personal style of training and way of doing things. That is something that I have transferred to many areas of my life, but especially within my music therapy major.”
“During my first year in college, I actually studied Music at the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico. Piano is my main instrument, and I've been playing it for roughly 15 years now. Naturally, that was a place where I felt comfortable, but once I became involved in public speaking and community service, I started feeling confused about which direction I wanted to go. I didn't know if playing piano on a stage was really what was meant for me.”
“I ultimately decided to transfer to Texas Woman’s University, so I could continue to support and help individuals, but combine it with my passion for music. When I discovered music therapy and learned that I could help individuals that have different mental health disorders or are suffering from substance use, it felt very connected to the work we do at CADCA.”
Yurimar will continue her music therapy education in a master’s program this August. Additionally, she will also be completing a six-month internship at Children's Health Hospital in Dallas, Texas, starting in January 2023. This is a highly competitive and saturated site in which music therapy students from around the country apply, and only one is accepted each semester. CADCA congratulates Yurimar on her acceptance.
Recently, Yurimar’s role at CADCA has expanded into international work as well, where she currently supports the efforts of five Latin American countries in coalition development and youth initiatives. “I've been starting to think about what will happen after I complete my master’s degree. As a bilingual speaker, I have noticed that there is an incredible need to support coalitions that are starting to arise internationally. I’d love to continue to translate necessary training materials and see how I can support them as they continue to grow and develop.”