English Major Uses Her Love of Language to Help Abuse Survivors

English major Devin Long (pictured) uses her love of language to help abuse survivors.

© Western New Mexico University

Passionate about the written language and a self-described “book fanatic,” first-generation college student Devin Long plans to spend her time at Western New Mexico University majoring in English and minoring in sociology, a combination of subjects that she trusts will help her in her career. Long was encouraged to continue her higher education by the CEO of the organization she works for, New Beginnings, where she serves as the Community Outreach Liaison. New Beginnings is a nonprofit organization in San Juan County, NM, that provides transitional housing and resources for survivors of physical, emotional and sexual abuse and stalking.

The scope of Long’s work extends far beyond San Juan County, as her organization serves all of New Mexico and the surrounding states. Said Long, “We do not turn away anyone who knocks on our door.” New Beginnings is “one of only four transitional living programs in the state and holds the state’s only trauma-focused childcare center,” said Long. The organization currently has five homes available to survivors but is planning on expanding that number.

In addition to the transitional living program and childcare, New Beginnings offers onsite counseling, and it helps survivors to enroll in needed healthcare programs, seek further education, and explore career opportunities. “A lot of the survivors were childhood survivors as well, so we have rethought the whole dynamic” of how to provide resources, said Long, “If they grew up in a household that did not have reliable utilities, with parents that did not have a job or a stable income, how can we get them to see that they are worthy of [the services that New Beginnings offers]? So we are providing that support” for their emotional, social, and mental wellbeing.

Communicating with the public about the resources available to survivors is central to Long’s position. She explained, “Outreach is a passion of mine. As we know, a lot of survivors do not have access to the internet or know who is available to help or how to get help, so I find it very rewarding to be able to distribute that information to employers, to doctors’ office, to schools, to whoever will listen.” That way, when they see someone who is in trouble, “they have the resources to be able to help them.” Because outreach work requires a great deal of writing and revision, she is confident that majoring in English is the right choice for her.

An active mother of two daughters, Long was born and raised in San Juan County, and she said that her work at New Beginnings has particular meaning to her as a long-time community member. “You grow up seeing your community and knowing that there is good and there is bad about it, and you see those different family dynamics,” she said, “but to be able to work in this unique way and build [the community] into being a better place is just amazing.”


Submit Feedback