For the third year in a row, graduate counseling students in the College of Education and Human Services have been selected by the American Psychological Association (APA) Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) as Services to Transition-Age Youth (STAY) fellows. Last year, three students received this prestigious award. This year, all four applications submitted through the Department of Professional Psychology and Family Therapy were awarded to fund Sonay Culpepper, Brittany Harden and Leslie Perez, M.A. Counseling, Ed.S. Professional Counseling; and Gina Testa, M.A. School Counseling.
Administered through a grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the STAY Fellowship was created three years ago to support the training of master's-level practitioners in mental health services with a commitment to a career with racial/ethnic minority transition age youth (ages 16 through 25) and their families. As part of the fellowship, the students will partake in specialized training during the 2018 Psychology Summer Institute in Washington, D.C., receive a $6,000 stipend and membership to APA and a lifetime network of professional association with psychologists and other professionals focused on ethnic-minority behavioral health issues.
"This population tends to get lost in terms of services," states Margaret Brady-Amoon, associate professor and academic director of counseling programs. She stresses that students must not only have a commitment to working with this population, they must also demonstrate success in their academic training in order to qualify as a STAY fellow. "It's such a tremendous achievement. It gives national recognition to these students. It also recognizes our program and Seton Hall University. Servant leadership is the mission of the University. Service to the less fortunate is paramount to that mission."
Brittany Harden views being awarded the fellowship as an extremely gratifying accomplishment due to vivid comparisons to her own background. "This experience is important to me because I come from a population where mental health is not discussed. My culture defined mental health as taboo - and I know this to be true for many other minority groups," she states. "I plan on helping minorities see mental health without negative stigmas or stereotypes. Through these young adults, a new generation of thinkers can be born. If we teach youth to be accepting and understanding of mental health, they will, in turn, teach their children the same habits, and the cycle will continue. I want to be a part of the new age of thinkers who teach these habits."
Leslie Perez echoes a similar sentiment stating, "As young adults transition into adulthood they are influenced by other aspects such as values, decision making and the concept of self-efficacy. As a future counselor, I would hope to make a positive impact in these aspects as well as continue to pay forward the support I received during my own transitional challenges."
All four women credit the counseling program with not only guiding their applications to the APA's Minority Fellowship Program, but also providing an academic experience that emphasizes a human approach to practice. Quotes Sonay Culpepper, "Seton Hall University prepares its students to work in their community alongside other professionals. I have been given invaluable experience within class and within internships that have prepared me to work with this youth population and their families." Gina Testa agrees with her peer fellows when she emphasizes that her program provides the knowledge and support to enter any chosen professional area and be able to advocate for those who cannot do so for themselves.
Last year's STAY Fellowship recipients are a testament to the vast opportunities for personal and professional growth created after the fellowship has ended. Shaheda Hall, M.A. '16 currently serves as a school counselor for Academy for Urban Leadership in the Perth Amboy School District. Veronica Ortiz, M.A./Ed.S., '16 is a program associate with Imagine, A Center For Coping With Loss in Mountainside, NJ. This non-profit organization supports children and families coping with loss to foster resiliency and emotional well-being for all those who grieve. Sierra-Katherine Brooks, M.A., '17 expects to complete her Ed.S. in 2017.
The M.A. in Counseling/Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Professional Counseling and M.A. in School Counseling programs at Seton Hall prepare students to promote optimal human development and empower clients to solve personal, interpersonal, career and other mental health problems, using a wellness model to diagnose, counsel and implement treatment for these clients. Learn more about this rewarding program and career here.
Apply now for Fall 2017 admission.
Applications received before June 15 will receive priority consideration.