Program Helps Students Pursue Doctorates in Mental Health
Representation of minorities in mental health research addressed
September 22, 2005 9:04 PM
Alejandra Calderon juggles being a proud parent of two daughters, going to school full time, and doing at least 12 hours of research a week on Latino smoking cessation.
"I tell people all the time that you would be surprised when you're in a certain situation and you have to make things work," said Calerdon.
Calderon, along with Elena Flores, Jasmine Alvarez, Janice Cheng, Erika Torres, and Raymond Ortiz III were accepted into the national Career Opportunities in Research (COR) program at SF State, which accepts minority students majoring in sociology, psychology, social work counseling, or child and adolescent development who would like to pursue doctorates in mental health fields.
"The program addressees under representation of minority individuals in mental health research," said Sacha Bunge, SF State Professor and director of the COR program.
To be eligible to apply for the program, students must have a diverse background (such as Hispanic, Asian-American, or African American) and upperclassmen standing with at least a 3.0 grade point average. They must also express great interest in a career in mental health research.
Students who are accepted receive monthly stipends of $900 to $1000 for living expenses, tuition, books and graduate record examination (GRE) preparation. They also attend fully funded conferences held all around the country, and their application fees for doctoral programs are paid for.
The program receives majority of its funding through the National Institutes of Mental Health. SF State and University of California San Francisco match some of these funds through grants.
But the rewards do not come free to the students, according to Bunge.
"The students work for the money," she said. "Students are required to do at least 12 hours a week in a research lab."
Additionally, students must complete preparatory workshops for the GRE, a standardized test taken by students who wish to get a postgraduate degree.
Students also work with a mentor, develop their own research projects, and apply to at least 10 graduate schools.
"(The) mentoring experience is key to the program," said Bunge, who has been directing the program for five years.
"For the first time I actually feel like I have someone that is looking out for my best interest," said Calderon. "The mentors' job is to make sure that I succeed."
Calderon, who was born in Nicaragua, is currently doing research with the University of California San Francisco smoking cessation lab. The study is conducted on Latinos who wish to quit smoking and receive free help through an Internet site.
According to Calderon, she wants to receive her doctorate in sociology through the Berkeley sociology doctorate program and work with Latino youth population. She would like to get into social work and be an "advocate" for the Latino population.
Elena Flores, 26-year-old sociology major, also wishes to pursue a career in sociology working with the Latino youth community.
"My first sociology class answered all my questions. I wanted to make a difference (through sociology)," said Flores.
When Flores is finished with school she would like to teach and continue doing research. She wants to do research on Latina women, Latino children, and adopted children.
"It's an amazing program. I never knew there was anything like it," said Flores.
Erika Torres, the youngest of the six new members, is interested with working with incarcerated youth. She admits that the program is challenging, but not overwhelming.
"It's a lot of work," said 20-year-old Torres. "But the program still gives me time to do other things. There are a lot of high expectations, but it is not unmanageable."
According to all the students in the program, it has been an intense experience. Calderon admits that the program and balancing her life in it is tough, but she manages to work through it with help from her family.
"Family support has definitely helped me through this process," said Calderon. "If it wasn't for them I don't know what I would do."
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University