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7 Things – Juliet Arechiga ’93

What inspired you to do this kind of work?

Deep down I always knew education would be my field, but it took me some time to embrace it. I thought I should break into some career that was historically less accessible to women. After college, I tried on a few professional personas but found them unfulfilling. While I was working at a public policy consulting firm in Washington, DC, a colleague poised to retire took me aside and confided that she regretted not pursuing her passion and implored me to not make the same mistake. Shortly thereafter I landed at the Lab School of Washington, a school for students with language-based learning disabilities. As soon as I walked into the school, I felt a sense of peace wash over me. I had found a professional home. I started as a teacher, but the director, the late Sally Smith, saw me as a potential counselor. I owe much to Sally for helping me find my path. The work I do is beyond rewarding. I always say I have the best students because I do.

What is your position here and how long have you worked at O’Dowd?

I’m the designated counselor for students diagnosed with learning differences and ADHD. I began here in 2014.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received (generally – it doesn’t have to be related to O’Dowd)?

I suppose a couple refrains from my father come to mind. My dad would always tell me, “Life is just moments.” Another of his favorites was, “Always have adventure in your back pocket.” He said both so many times that, being a kid, I had to roll my eyes sometimes. But he’s lived his life fully, been kind and generous, and savored his experiences. I take inspiration from him. Another I use quite a bit is, “It’s a good problem to have.” Perspective is so easy to loose and wonderful to gain.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

My students, of course. I find them just delightful. Every day I get to have real conversation. Every day I am charmed and moved by my students.

What about your field or position do you think would surprise people the most?

I suppose one thing that might surprise people about counseling is that we’re not in the business of dispensing advice. We do much more listening than talking.

What is the most interesting or surprising thing about you?

For those who know me, I’m an open book. I’m far from shy. I suppose I can share my newest creative pursuit with you. I’ve become pretty crazy about needle felting. My mother gave my daughter a kit and it snowballed from there. Just last week, I made a four foot felted redwood tree house for my son’s Ewoks. I’m also a life-long thrifter. I almost never buy anything new.

If you could rescue only one thing from your burning office, what would it be?

I appreciate the question as now I have an emergency plan. My office is packed with art – from past students, family, friends and the odd yard sale. I’d have to grab a painting, purchased while honeymooning in Vietnam, of three monks. If I had enough time, I’d also grab this vintage poster I’ve had for years that says “Human Being: Handle With Care.”

What is your favorite kind of music?

My husband is really into music and has introduced me to Arvo Part, TV on the Radio and Cate Le Bon. Old favorites include The Pixies, Radiohead and Arcade Fire.


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