Denver High School hires trauma-based social worker to focus on student mental health

DENVER-- Martin Luther King Jr. high school hired a social worker to help overwhelmed students cope and process trauma.

Jackeline Ruvalcaba Delgado sits in a comfy chair in a dimly lit room on the second floor. The walls are peppered with calming scenic photos and paintings.

“I like to say that the walls of this place are like glue, so whatever you say here stays here,”  Delgado said.

Ruvalcaba Delgado says she will come to space when she’s feeling overwhelmed or needs to work through issues from her past.

“When I was five years old, my Dad was arrested,” Delgado said. “He would hit my mom. That day I believe she had bruises on her hand.”

Pamala Vaughn was hired as a trauma-based social worker and has been helping students like Ruvalcaba Delgado for the past school year.

Vaughn states that counselors at the school are very focused on the students’ academics, so it allows her to specifically focus on coping and processing trauma. She brings in years of experience from Kansas working at Miracles Inc., which helped women coping with severe trauma.

“There’s parental incarceration, physical sexual abuse, poverty, a lot of hunger,” Vaughn said.

Approximately twenty students will come into space every day. Vaughn says some students have faced extreme trauma at an early age.

“He saw his best friend get shot seven times and then died,” Vaughn said. “It was his best friend, and because of that when it happened he has mentally checked out.”

Vaughn believes she is making an impact. In Ruvalcaba Delgado’s case, she’s getting ready to graduate and go onto community college and transferring after a couple years, hoping to pursue a career in law enforcement.

“I want to help people who have gone through the same things I’ve gone through or maybe worse,” Ruvalcaba Delgado said.

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