Alumni Spotlight: Manuel A. Ruiz (MAPC '05)
Manuel A. Ruiz, (MAPC '05) started his work in the field of domestic violence in the Chicago area providing individual and group therapy both for children and survivors of domestic violence. He is very active in furthering his professional development and has attended trainings provided by the American Psychological Association (APA), the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence (MNADV), the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), Alianza, House of Ruth, the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the Interfaith Community Against Domestic Violence (IFCADV) in Montgomery County, MD, among others. He works on domestic violence and counseling to organizations, community events, and academic conferences (domestic and international). Since 2013, Mr. Ruiz has been a co-chair of the Maryland Abuse Intervention Collaborative (MAIC), and is a member of the Governor’s Family Violence Council in the State of Maryland.
How did your education at IPS prepare you for your ministerial vocation? A couple of years after my high school graduation I became aware of my call to work with youth, both in education and counseling, following my spiritual beliefs. For about 10 years, I received training on those areas separately. I earned my degree in psychology while I was volunteering for the Catholic Church in youth ministry and teaching at a college level. I learned about pastoral counseling at IPS when I was in the search of a graduate program to continue my education. The description of the program and its goals were so appealing that they were my primary motive for attending Loyola University Chicago.
At IPS, I found what I was looking for in my career: integration of the sciences on human behavior with the perspectives that spirituality and religion have on the same phenomena. This integration has been crucial in my profession, for example, my work on domestic abuse. On occasion perpetrators tend to justify the abuse they inflict on religious beliefs. My training with IPS has enabled and prepared me to go beyond what many other counselors can do by working on the spiritual/religious components of the problem during my intervention with clients.
What is the single most transformative event in your education at IPS? If I have to pick only one single event over the two years I spent at IPS, I would pick our final retreat which was just a couple of weeks before our graduation. At IPS I was blessed with a group of very kindhearted classmates. We had the opportunity to get to know each other personally through the previous retreats and over the two years of the program, but two things made that retreat special. One, this final retreat was a celebration of our friendship, which was built and cultivated around our studies. Secondly, the retreat was the launch of our commitment to fuse spirituality and counseling in our professional practice as we moved on from IPS and into our long-term professional careers.
Advice for current students and soon-to-be graduates about the life of ministry. I found IPS to be the place to grow in different areas in my life and I did my best to take advantage of every growth opportunity during my two years in the program. It was a great time to learn with some of the best teachers I have ever had throughout my entire educational journey. IPS was a place I was able to meet very kind human beings and create long-lasting bonds within a multicultural group of fellows and instructors. Also, living in Chicago gave me the chance to enjoy a variety of cultural, artistic, and sport events in a very friendly and beautiful city—the Midwest’s Capital. If you are still in the program, seize all of these opportunities. If you are about to graduate from the program, stay in touch with your instructors, classmates, and IPS. Also, get involved in the activities that IPS has for alumni in the area you end up in. I value the continuous support that I have received from IPS as it keeps nurturing my life of ministry.