During the summer before her senior year, Nayeli Dominguez ’20 took a political science course that explored the history and social activism of Mount Saint Mary’s founding Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ).
Today, Dominguez is bringing the CSJ story forward and framing it within current national conversations on racial justice and civic engagement. She is doing so as a marketing and communications intern with the Association of Colleges of Sisters of St. Joseph (ACSSJ), where she helps to advance the educational mission and legacy of the nine U.S. colleges founded by the CSJ. Dominguez is responsible for the ACSSJ’s social media and monthly newsletter, and helps update the association’s website.
“Empowering women and serving the dear neighbor has always been at the core of the sisters,” Dominguez says. “That’s what really stands out to me. As I’m writing these posts and working on the newsletter, I’m getting to learn about how their mission continues today, including through people like me who have learned from them.”
Dominguez is also serving others through her role as an academic coach at her alma mater, Da Vinci Science High School in El Segundo, where she’s mentoring students. And if that’s not enough, Dominguez is also returning, virtually, to the Mount this academic year to volunteer with the Honors program.
Dominguez was an Honors scholar herself and served as both vice president and president of the Honors council. At the 2020 Mary’s Day awards ceremony, she was named Outstanding Honors Scholar alongside classmate Caitlyn Keeve ’20.
“Nayeli came in right as we were overhauling the Honors program, and she really helped me grow it,” says Michelle Melendres, EdD, director of the Honors program and an assistant professor of social work. “She’s soft-spoken but so dependable. And such a go-getter. She’s also naturally just someone that people gravitate to. She establishes trust with people so easily. I’m excited to see her work with our current students.”
Dominguez’s volunteer duties will include assisting with virtual workshops and mentoring students working on their Honors theses. As a student, Dominguez — a psychology major and a Spanish studies minor — wrote her Honors thesis, “The Negative Impact of the Media: Psychological Trauma on Undocumented Immigrant Families.” She also researched the long-term emotional effect on children whose parents were deported or who feared that worst-case scenario for their family.
“As a first-generation college student who’s fortunate to be a citizen, this topic was close to my heart,” Dominguez says. “My parents are undocumented and so are many of my family members and family friends. But growing up, I never thought about them being deported because they really protected me from that fear. As I got older, I reached a new level of understanding of what they risked for me. And I realized that other children may not be as shielded from that kind of worry.”
All these experiences over the past year have also influenced what Dominguez anticipates will be the next step on her journey: pursuing a master’s degree in speech-language pathology so that she can help children overcome language disorders.
“The goal is to be a bilingual speech pathologist, so that I can practice in an elementary school setting or in a hospital pediatrics setting and work directly with Spanish-speaking children,” she says. “I think I can make a difference in children’s lives, and this will give me a concrete way to do that in my community.”
YouTube influencer in the making?
To reach more students following in her academic footsteps, Nayeli Dominguez ’20 has taken her mentoring skills digital. This summer, she started a YouTube channel that Dominguez uses to offer advice to high school and college students, drawing upon — and sharing — stories from her own educational journey.
Her warm, straightforward and authentic approach fits the platform perfectly. In fact, one of Dominguez’s videos, which features back-to-school tips for online learning, quickly attracted more than 2,500 views.
What empowered her to take the plunge and launch her own YouTube channel? She credits the business marketing skills she’s learned through her marketing and communications internship with the Association of Colleges of Sisters of St. Joseph (ACSSJ).
“This summer has really opened the doors for me in terms of learning new skills and also deciding where I want my life to go, and I’m so thankful for my internship with the ACSSJ for that,” Dominguez says. “I loved my time at the Mount, and it was a little scary to lose that structure when I graduated. But it’s been so good to establish myself independently. I’m thankful for how I’m growing, and I’m ready for what comes next.”