Bella Barajas, B.S., Graduate Student Intern
In her own words ...
I was born in the windy city of Chicago, IL and raised in central Florida. When I was young, my family decided to pack up and move somewhere warmer and I’m so glad they did; I love the sunshine and warmth here.
Throughout my life, I’ve always known I’d end up in the helping profession. Early on, I recognized I was someone who naturally felt deep empathy for other people’s pain, as well as their joy. Others describe me as a warm, compassionate, and accepting person with an open mind. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Central Florida. While taking courses, I worked at a private practice for counseling as an intake specialist and it was this experience that sparked my love for the counseling profession. After listening to client’s stories, their pain, or their need for guidance, I was then motivated to start my journey to become someone who can help redirect the lives of others, allowing them to become the best version of themselves. I am now a graduate student at UCF, close to earning my Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling.
I have professional experience working in higher levels of care, helping adults with severe and persistent mental disorders. I also have experience working in behavioral facilities, treating children and adolescents with Autism. Alongside our other counselors here at Seasons, I have an enormous passion for animals and am excited to integrate animal therapy into my practice. When reflecting on my clinical experience so far, I have developed a passion for treating the areas of depression, anxiety, trauma, obsessive compulsive disorders, ADHD, and issues in self-identity. I welcome individuals of all ages, Veterans, couples, and families as well.
Outside of work, I spend most of my time outdoors and am usually accompanied by my dog, Luna. You’ll usually find us swimming, exploring the beach, or at the park. I believe humor and laughter are life’s best medicines, so I enjoy fun times with my friends, family and loved ones.
Mandy McKague, B.S., Graduate Student Intern
In her own words ...
At a young age, I felt a sense of calling to work with children and have been blessed with opportunities to interact with and love children from many different countries including Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, Ukraine, Costa Rica, Belgium, and Honduras. After my first trip to an orphanage abroad, I began learning Spanish and have continued to fall in love with the language. In 2006, I graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education, which I knew would assure me a job working with children. However, after working for a few years as an office manager at a counseling center, I ended up living out my dream of returning to work full-time overseas with children as a missionary.
Living in a Honduran coastal city, I had the opportunity to work with a ministry to young boys living in the streets. We partnered with local Hondurans to get the boys in school, and thanks to generous donations and provision, we were able to feed them and provide medical care as well as provide a place for them to play and learn. While each day was often filled with heartache and many tears crying out to the Lord on their behalf, I felt so blessed for every moment with them and long to return one day. Thankfully, I am still able to stay in communication with many of these boys who will always be near to my heart.
In 2015, I returned to the U.S. and began teaching 5th grade at The Geneva School. I was blown away by the fact that I could love a job so much while being away from Honduras. I fell in love with getting to watch young minds develop, and I was blessed every year with sweet relationships with my classes as well as with my students’ parents. It was this love of partnership in addition to my overwhelming awareness of how ill-equipped I was to help the boys in Honduras and other countries to address their emotional and psychological wounds, that led me to pursue counseling as a career. I am currently a counseling intern pursuing my Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling through the University of the Cumberlands, and I hope to come alongside children, families, and individuals in their unique journey toward growth and healing.
I am now blessed with a wild, adventurous toddler of my own with whom I couldn’t imagine being more in love and amazed by. Together, we love to spend as much time as possible exploring outside and playing with animals. I have a dream to one day return with my daughter to Honduras and be able to support the boys of the streets in their own journey toward growth and healing.