This month’s featured intern is Natasha Somoza. She joined UNM Rainforest Innovations as a Student Office Assistant in September 2022, and she is currently transitioning to an Innovation Student Intern to expand her knowledge of the company’s operations.
“As an Office Assistant Intern, some of my responsibilities include daily operations such as greeting and directing guests to appropriate space rentals and events, including general upkeep throughout the office suite. I provide departmental support as I assist with tasks like communications, coding, and data entry for the finance team and Tribal Entrepreneurship program here at UNMRI. As an Innovation Intern, I assist with projects (regarding) the marketing and commercialization process of new technologies. Having experience in both Office Assistant Intern and Innovation Intern positions, I most enjoy the sense of teamwork and interdependence of the work we do.”
Natasha is from Herndon, Virginia and received a scholarship to attend the University of New Mexico. “I am a first-generation (American) born and raised in Herndon, VA within the DC Metro area. After graduating from Herndon High School, I earned a merit-based scholarship to attend the University of New Mexico where I am a member of Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority, Inc. studying psychology as I am on a path to earn a license as a holistic mental health counselor.”
She is also very passionate about yoga which goes hand in hand with her counselor ambitions. “I am currently earning an Ayurveda Foundational Yoga Teaching certification as I am passionate about decentering the field of psychology from Eurocentric practices/ideology to integrate more indigenous and Eastern philosophies. I hope to make education and resources more accessible for mental healthcare within underrepresented, minority communities.”
Natasha is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and plans to continue onward towards a doctoral degree. “After I earn my BA in psychology from UNM, I plan to continue education in a Master of clinical mental health program to earn my counseling license. With this, I will integrate holistic arts and healing methods to provide accessible, sustainable mental health tools to communities. After practicing clinically, I plan to earn a PhD in psychology to explore academia through education of therapeutic benefits of psychoactive substances from plant medicines with research in the fields of indigenous psychology.”
Throughout her time with UNM Rainforest Innovations, Natasha has expanded her knowledge of UNMRI’s daily operations, especially as she learns new skills in the Innovation Student Intern position. When asked what’s the most important thing she has learned so far, she said: “One of the most valuable things I’ve learned as a student intern is the potential and value of interdisciplinary collaboration in the UNM community. Through this internship, I gain experience working in a professional setting that also values creativity which allows me opportunities to unlock and inspire my own potential to lead transformational change.”