Mercedes is currently a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and EOPS Counselor with Foster Youth Retention Success and Transition Program (FYRST) at Palomar College. She also serves as Part-Time Counseling Faculty with the CalWORKs Program at San Diego City College. Mercedes received her B.S in Criminal Justice from San Diego State, and Master of Social Work with a concentration in Community Organizing, Planning, and Administration from the University of Southern California. Mercedes has provided academic services in the education sector for 4 ½ years now. Previously, Mercedes spent 5 ½ years in nonprofit, advocating, mentoring, and providing therapeutic services to marginalized youth. As a counselor, her role is to encourage students while providing high-quality support services that enable students to complete their educational goals, find meaningful employment, and successfully transition into the workforce. Mercedes's advising philosophy includes intentional conversations, student/counselor partnership, and commitment to helping students navigate successfully through their academic careers while exploring their educational and career options. This year Mercedes launched Eight16 Culinary Therapy, Eight16 is a Culinary Therapy Program that provides individual and group therapy sessions while cooking a therapeutic meal in the kitchen. Mercedes enjoys participating in social justice activities, cooking, and trying new recipes, traveling, watching documentaries, community service, listening to music, spending time with family and friends, reading, and playing fetch at the dog park with her Labradoodle.