Libna Arroyo wears multiple hats at North Tampa: Spanish teacher, career counselor, and school counselor. However, her professional experience goes far beyond those hats.
“I’ve been a counselor for about 10 years, but I’ve had different jobs since we’ve moved so much,” said Arroyo. “I was also a perfector at a college for one year, a high school Spanish teacher for 2 years, an academic advisor, and a mental health worker at a mental health facility.”
For nearly two years, Arroyo served as a counselor at a mental health facility and advised youth between ages of 17-21 who were in drug recovery. She helped them rehabilitate, find resources, and find a career. Throughout her professional experience, she’s often stood alongside underprivileged populations, assisting children with behavioral challenges and guiding children in foster care.
“I’ve had a lot of experiences with kids that are going through difficult situations, and it’s really meaningful for me that I’m able to be there and provide support,” said Arroyo.
Arroyo grew up the daughter of a missionary, and because of that, she spent her childhood moving around every few years until she turned 18. Although she’s originally from Costa Rica, she’s lived in Latin America, Canada, and all over the United States. Moving so often gave her “a broad view of culture and diversity. I feel like I understand different cultures and I’m able to relate to different people better [than if I had stayed in one place],” said Arroyo. “It’s helped me a lot through the years; I feel like I can meet a broad spectrum of pretty much everything at every level.”
Arroyo graduated from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, TN with a Master’s in Counseling, a BA in Psychology, and a minor in Spanish. Initially, she considered becoming a full-time foreign language teacher; languages are one of her passions, and she loves teaching things to students that they’ve never heard before. But her true passion is helping students prepare for the future.
“With the career counseling that I’m doing right now, we’re working on resumes, interviews, and internships, and getting them set up for that first job and that first career,” said Arroyo. “For Spanish, I want them to see the importance of learning another language. We did an activity where they had to either help themselves or help someone else learn another language. [For example, what to do if they’re working in] health care and someone comes in who only speaks another language, or how not to get taken advantage of in a buying and selling situation.”
Whether she’s teaching students who struggle in Spanish or helping them navigate personal challenges, Arroyo loves being able to sit with a child and help them find a way to fix their situation. She values creating partnerships with parents and teachers to help students achieve success.
“I find fulfillment in helping people and being their resource and finding creative ways to fix problems, and that’s something that I’m very passionate about and don’t give up on; I keep going until something sticks,” said Arroyo. “[I want students to know] that they are special to God and that no matter what they’re going through, they can overcome it with God’s help and be successful in life.”
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Get to Know Libna Arroyo
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I love running! I also love cooking, reading, and traveling, and I love going to the beach.
Q: Did you have a favorite food from a place you grew up?
A: I grew up a lot in Central and South America, and in every country there was something I liked and tried, but I’m a very eclectic person! I like to try all different kinds of foods. I love to cook, so I’m always trying to find new recipes.
Q: What do you like to cook?
A: I’ve been experimenting a lot with a little bit more of a vegan style! I’m a vegetarian anyways, so I’ve been cooking a lot of Thai and Indian because they do a lot of vegetarian.
Q: Do you have a favorite place that you’ve traveled?
A: Well, if I had to pick — I’m a beach person. I would pick Costa Rica’s beach because I grew up going there a lot and that’s my happy place! But if I had to pick mountains, I’d pick Banff National Park and the Alberta Mountains in Canada. My next trip is coming up; I’m going to Switzerland! My best friend is from there and I’m going to her wedding.
Q: What career advice do you give to your older students?
A: For my juniors and seniors, I remind them that it’s always good to make money, but you have to have meaning in life and how you choose your career. You should have service to others in whichever career you choose.