Dr. Jorge Partida — Oct. 2010
Author/Psychologist Named Waubonsee's Featured Alumnus
Sugar Grove – Career aptitude tests are usually more suggested advice than predictors of the future, but every so often, they are right on the mark. So it was with Dr. Jorge Partida, of Oswego. While a student at Waubonsee Community College, Partida's career aptitude test results indicated he'd be best suited for a career as a writer or a psychologist. Because of the success he has found in both fields, Waubonsee is proud to name Partida its Featured Alumnus for October.
Partida's path to success started off rocky. After immigrating to Aurora from Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico with his family when he was 9-years-old, his lack of English skills led to struggles in school. The struggles led to fights that nearly got him expelled. Then his mother talked to him.
"That was the turning point for me," Partida said. "As the oldest in my family, I needed to be a source of pride, and I started to realize that. I put my full effort into school. School was going to be my weapon, my defense, my everything."
Partida studied hard and started making the high honor roll. During the summer, he'd work on his English by tape recording and then practicing dialogue from "The Brady Bunch."
He continued to do well in school and after graduating from East Aurora High School in 1983, he enrolled at Waubonsee, having earned a prestigious Gustafson Scholarship.
"Going to Waubonsee was the best decision I could have made because not only was it close by, but it was a small campus where you had the opportunity to meet with teachers and have a very individualized experience," Partida said. "Plus, it gave me the confidence that I could do college work."
Partida explored some new interests at Waubonsee, including joining the steel drum band and Student Senate, while also indulging past interests such as art and painting. Knowing his passions and interests fairly well, Partida was not surprised when the aptitude test indicated he would make a good writer or psychologist.
"It felt right on back then, and it's worked out really well," Partida said. "It really just confirmed my path for me."
After earning a bachelor's degree from Loyola University, Partida went on to earn his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Argosy University (formerly the Illinois School of Psychology). Over his psychological career, he has worked as the Deputy Director of Behavioral Health for the San Francisco, California Department of Public Health; the Director of Behavioral Health for St. Elizabeth's Hospital; as core-faculty for the Chicago School of Psychology; and as the Director of Social Services for Latino Youth, Inc.
While working for Latino Youth, Inc., Partida was interviewed by Univision Television Network for a special they were filming about gang violence. As result of that interview, Partida was asked to do a weekly segment on mental health issues for the network's nightly newscast.
"I think television and radio are great tools for education," Partida said. "In a time where people do not have health insurance, and psychologists are seen more as a luxury than a necessity, television and radio are great ways to reach people about these issues."
Putting mental health into a cultural context, as he did for these Univision segments, is a real passion for Partida and one that he explores in his first published book, "The Promise of the Fifth Sun: Ancestral Journey of Self Discovery." The "fifth sun" referenced in the title describes the ancient Aztecs' prediction for a new age of awakening. Published in August 2009, the book outlines Partida's philosophy that all human beings are part of the same family and how we can learn from the treasures we have inherited from the past.
"The more I talk to people around the world, the more commonalities I find," Partida said. "There are certain struggles and longings that we all have."
While putting the finishing touches on a second book about transforming one's thinking, Partida continues his work as the founder of J. Partida Consulting. The company works with nonprofit, government and religious organizations and social service providers to implement and evaluate culturally competent services to populations most in need.