An advocate for underrepresented students, Luis Rosa, MEd, LCMHC, has spent the better part of his career focusing on their mental health needs. He now works with Geisel School of Medicine’s Counseling Services team where he continues his dedication to the wellbeing of Black, LGBTQ, and multi-racial students.
After spending 10 years in community mental health, Rosa had an opportunity to work with students at Baldwin Wallace University (then Baldwin-Wallace College) in Ohio, where he became assistant director of counseling. It was there, the Ohio native says, he found his calling.
“While community mental health work does involve working with race, ethnicity, gender, and identity,” Rosa says, “with college students I was able be more proactive, which fully engages me.” He immersed himself in the student community and began developing programming in the Black Cultural Center, became an advisor to the LGBTQ student organization, and became a co-leader of the school’s minorities forum—a faculty, staff, and student organization for people of color.
Real Talk, one of the programs Rosa developed, was a safe, confidential space for students of color to come together as peers to talk about their experience of being part of a campus minority. The popular program became a weekly event and because Rosa was not in a position to disclose what was discussed with faculty or administrators, students saw him as a reliable ally.
Rosa says he was able to spend more time with students, becoming fully engaged in their development, which is something he hopes to emulate at Geisel.
“Part of my role here, is to support the Black medical student population—to let them know there is a clinician who identifies with them and carries a certain level of understanding and expertise that can help support their wellbeing while in medical school,” Rosa says. He also wants to eliminate the stigma around medical students who struggle with anxiety.
Growing-up in a culture that values storytelling—his was one of only three Cape Verdean families in his Ohio hometown—Rosa believes that in telling the stories we create based on our experiences, it is possible to develop a new narrative.
“Luis brings nearly two decades of experience in counseling and higher education. This experience combined with his deep knowledge of the impacts of racism and discrimination is a vital asset to our Geisel Counseling program,” says Matthew S. Duncan MED ’01, assistant professor of psychiatry at Geisel, and clinical director of Integrated Care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System. “Luis delivers this wisdom with his signature thoughtfulness, calm voice and gentle demeanor. Having him as a part of our team will help make us better at accomplishing what we have set out to do—which is to make a positive impact on the mental wellbeing of all of our students. We are lucky to have him.”