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Gonzalez Serves North Carolina Youth and Families

The Youth, Family, and Community Sciences program is better for having Maru Gonzalez as a faculty member.
As assistant professor & youth development specialist, Gonzalez teaches courses in the YFCS program related to youth development, complex family issues, program development and evaluation, and social justice in youth and family science work. Her areas of research and expertise include youth development focusing on activism, critical positive youth development, and the experiences of LGBTQ+ young people across familial, school, and community contexts.

Gonzalez worked as the head of school counseling at the American school of Barcelona, and as an adjunct instructor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst before joining NC State. “Throughout my professional career, I have worked with young people and families in various capacities”, says Gonzalez. “I chose YFCS because the program’s focus and course offerings aligned perfectly with my teaching and research interests — and the people are a delight to work with!”

Gonzalez notes that her involvement with the YFCS graduate program – especially her time working with students – has significantly enriched her personal and professional life. “It has been such a joy to learn from and with passionate students who are dedicated to improving communities. I am fortunate for the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues, students, and community members on initiatives aimed at improving the lives of youth and families.”

In addition to her teaching and advising work within the YFCS graduate program, Gonzalez is involved in a variety of education and outreach projects. She is program director for #PassTheMicYouth, a youth-led podcast and blog that aims to amplify youth voices, shine a spotlight on youth activism, and provide educators with resources for cultivating critical consciousness. She serves as co-PI for the Empowering Youth and Families Program, an opioid prevention education program for youth and their caregivers in rural North Carolina. That’s not all: Gonzalez also works on initiatives to center diversity, equity, and inclusion within Cooperative Extension, including efforts to nurture belonging for and with LGBTQ+ young people across the familial, school, and community contexts. And her exceptional drive and leadership skills led her to co-develop a study abroad course, during which students travel to Spain, walk a section of the Camino de Santigo, and learn about family, culture, and community along the way.

Gonzalez values building relationships with her students, and is frequently sought after for her thoughtful advice and guidance. One piece of advice she often shares with students: the importance of networking. Activities such as participating in YFCS-related organizations, applying for funding to attend conferences, and taking advantage of opportunities for professional development, Gonzalez emphasizes, are all great ways to meet other aspiring professionals, explore career opportunities, and learn more about the discipline.

Courses taught:

  • AEHS 510 – Supervised Professional Experience in YFCS (on rotation)
  • AEHS 533 – Complex Issues
  • AEHS 552 – Program Development and Evaluation in Youth and Family Settings
  • AEHS 553 – Applied Concepts in Child and Youth Development
  • AEHS 590 – Social Justice & Diversity in Youth & Family Sciences