Alumni Profile: Fernando Gomez '11 (Art & Art History)
Fernando Gomez '11 (Art & Art History) is the Director of the Penn South Dementia Program for the Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA), the largest social services agency serving older adults in New York City.
I currently work as the Director of the Penn South Dementia Program for the Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA) in New York City. After graduating from SLU, I knew that I wanted to return to my home city and explore ways that I would be able to make an impact and find work that was meaningful to me and to others.
This especially resonated with me after my undergraduate study abroad experience in India, which exposed me to peoples and experiences very [un]like that of my own. Though I "tried on" different career paths, I found my niche in social services working with underserved and neurodiverse communities in order to build bridges that connect individuals and groups, as well as empower them.
Although I took some fantastic studio art courses with the department's wonderful instructors, my academic focus during my time at SLU was on Art History. My studies trained me to think critically, communicate effectively, and navigate through varying discourses and perspectives - skills that I have applied to every role that I have assumed throughout my career path.
In my current role as the Director of the Penn South Dementia Program, I develop and administer various activities and experiences for individuals living with cognitive decline. Naturally, many of the experiences that I program for participants include the creative arts; participants also find enjoyment and deeper connection during our excursions when visiting NYC's many arts museums and cultural institutions (The Rubin Museum has a wonderful program tailored for people with dementia, and The Whitney Museum has proven to be an invaluable community partner).
Within my own practice with individuals with dementia, I also frequently utilize techniques and interventions of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which is a therapeutic modality that I have studied in graduate school. DBT is based on concepts and principles of Buddhism such as mindfulness, acceptance, and impermanence, and has provided me with another opportunity to marry my undergraduate experiences and education with my current work.