Aaliyah Duran graduated from Questa High School in 2017. Upon graduation, she moved to Alamosa to attend Adams State University (ASU). She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and emphasized in Criminology and Social Work in 2021, and just two short years later, she graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Counselor Education, with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health. Living in the San Luis Valley, Duran says she takes comfort in the many parallels to home.
Duran’s bond with her family remains strong due to the proximity of Alamosa and Questa. She’s able to go home often for special events and to see her younger brothers and nieces grow up. One of her favorite parts of her college career was being a cheerleader during her undergraduate years, and transitioning to becoming the head cheer coach for ASU while she completed her master’s degree.
Currently, Duran works for the San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group as a clinical mental health therapist. She’s been in this position for a year and enjoys her job, noting she’s able to travel throughout the San Luis Valley and see diverse parts of the community.
When asked why she decided to pursue her career field, Duran says she wanted to find a way to help people experiencing mental health issues address their problems. “I was able to see the stigma of mental health closely while studying this field. I want to be an advocate and help those who experience these issues, while improving their outcomes,“ she says enthusiastically.
Duran is the proud first-generation college graduate in her family. She is also now a part of the rare few Latinas in this country, of which only 8% obtain their master’s degrees. She is also apart of the 6% Latinx population who is a certified mental health therapist.
Duran’s family has played a major role in her education and career path. “My biggest supporters were my parents throughout my college career. Whether it was for a scholarship dinner, or to support me as I cheered and while I coached, they were always there. There’s a reason I am a first-generation college graduate, and my parents are why. I can’t thank them enough for their support and love,” she says.