FAU Broward Campuses - Alumni Spotlight

Telma Rodriguez

Wednesday, Nov 01, 2023
Telma Rodriguez

Psychology | Class of 2018

Telma Rodriguez knew from a young age that she would have a career in healthcare. Her family owns a group home for developmentally disabled adults, and she could see first-hand the impact that good healthcare has on an individual. Watching the interactions between her parents and other staff members made that 7-year-old-girl eager to learn more about how the brain works and how it controls how people think and feel.

As Telma got older, that passion grew into a field of study that would eventually build her career. After obtaining her AA from Broward College, she transferred to Florida Atlantic by way of the Link2FAU program that enables students to complete their associate degree at partnering state colleges with guaranteed transfer admission to FAU to earn their bachelor’s degree.

"I was working at the time, and I needed classes that were available at night and online. FAU’s online learning structure caters to working students and made it so much easier for me to complete my degree," Telma said. "And there’s also a lot of really great activities and resources on campus. I enjoyed going to different school functions and made sure to go to as many as I could."

After graduating from FAU in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, she continued her education at Nova Southeastern University, obtaining a master’s degree in clinical Mental Health Counseling. Telma also completed her internship at Henderson Behavioral Health in Fort Lauderdale.

Now, she’s on a mission to provide better access to affordable mental health resources. This Florida Atlantic Alumnus is changing the narrative and fighting to make mental health part of a preventative health plan - not just as a means for those who need it. In 2022, she started her own telehealth psychotherapy practice called Sanctuary Behavioral Health that gives clients access to therapy sessions from the privacy and convenience of their home.

"Mental health is so important for your overall health," Telma said. "Sometimes you don’t realize how the current events in your life are affecting you. It might feel ok on the surface, but inside you have subconscious doubts and worry that trigger stress and anxiety."

Her advice is to seek help even if you don’t need it. Making mental health part of a regular healthcare routine may be the key to uncovering things that can be resolved, and you’ll feel much better. While studying at FAU, Telma participated in a suicide prevention training. Listening to some of the survivor stories, statistics and materials being presented, it was clear that counseling was the field for her.

"I loved the Psychology program, especially the Psychology of Personalities class. I found the history of the founding fathers to be interesting. And I still use a lot of the tools that were taught in that class in my practice today," she said.

Telma certainly keeps herself busy. She is an office manager for a doctor’s office and practicing as a registered mental health counselor intern at Sunserve, while booking telehealth visits for her own practice at Sanctuary Behavioral Health. She credits her professional drive to one of her professors here at Florida Atlantic, Vanessa Hormann, an Assistant Professor of Biology.

"She knew her subject so well that she just spoke from the heart. She didn’t have to look at her slides at all. I can remember how inspiring it was as a student to see that level of commitment and professionalism. I knew I wanted to be that knowledgeable in my field too," Telma said.

Telma is also a first-generation graduate. While she admits that the workload was hard, her determination to be the first in her family to graduate was even bigger. She credits the resources that were available on campus to that success too.

"You have to utilize all the resources that FAU has to offer – whether its tutoring or clubs – you have to make the most of the college experience," Telma said. "Don’t be afraid to get out there, be on campus, make friends and take advantage of everything the campus has to offer. They have everything you need!"

In her free time, Telma enjoys spending time with family, working out, and reading materials on new research in the field of mental health. And some day, she’d like to travel the world and see all the different cultures in other countries – especially Switzerland. The idea of big open fields of flowers and tall grassy mountains makes her face light up. While on her travels, she hopes to check off all the Disney theme park locations. So far, she’s been to the one in Orlando, Florida and Anaheim, California.


If you are interested in seeing how a telehealth session can help you, call 786-565-2233, email info@sanctuaryhealth.com or visit https://gosanctuaryhealth.com/ today to set up your free 15 minute consultation.