ACU Students Shine: AAMFT Minority Fellowship

0 Commentsby   |  12.02.10  |  Uncategorized

For the past 4 years, ACU MFT graduates have been recipients of the AAMFT Minority Fellowship, a program that aims to “expand the delivery of culturally competent mental health and substance abuse services to underserved minority populations.” The AAMFT Minority Fellowship provides financial support and professional guidance to graduate students pursuing doctoral degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy who express commitment to a career in ethnic minority mental health and substance abuse services.

Past ACU fellowship recipients are Sara Blakeslee (’07), and Maria Williams (’08).  Ruqayyah Samia, a 2009 fellowship recipient, and Mathis Kennington,  a 2010 recipient share how the fellowship has affected their professional growth and research and the ways that their time at ACU helped prepare them for doctoral work.

Mathis: The greatest impact the MFP will have on my research career comes from having constant exposure to other fellows who are engaging in research with ethnic minority individuals.  I have no doubt that my questions will continue to take shape as a result of this collaboration and I am convinced that it will enrich my studies.  I now have access to a
lifetime connection with these folks and those who will come after me. Currently, as a result of receiving the fellowship, I have decided to stay an extra year at VA Tech to take more statistics classes in the hope of becoming more qualified with more complex statistical methods.

I am interested in knowing how attachment-oriented clinical interventions on a broad scale can foster more bonded relationships between children of incarcerated Latino and African American fathers.Right now, I’m working on a study that involves nonresident immigrant Latino fathers from Mexico and Central America and how those fathers
conceptualize their fathering roles.  In addition to that, I’m also involved with a study with the Virginia Department of Corrections to learn how incarcerated mothers rehabilitate after release with their children.

I have no doubt that I would not have the MFP were it not for my experience at ACU. Although I am biased, I am certain that I was a part of the best cohort of students to go through the MFT program.  My classmates were engaging, thoughtful, and incredibly supportive to the extent that all our educational experiences were enriched.  I don’t
think I would have the same scholarly developments and interests were it not for them.  I also feel that the program is more rigorous than many in the MFT field.  As a result, I felt better equipped to handle the many challenges of doctoral study and I also felt encouraged to continue the scholarly pursuits, which led to my interest in applying for the MFP program.  It was difficult while I was there, but reflecting on the experience, I’m so thankful for the way the faculty
structure the MFT program.  I feel more equipped as a result of being at ACU, and I know that wouldn’t be the case if I had been somewhere else.  Finally, I feel that the way my faculty encouraged me throughout the process was critical. This was the second time I applied to the MFP program, and I did not receive the fellowship during my first attempt. Dr. Goff, Dr. Hinson, and Dr. Halstead encouraged me to try again and I was especially grateful to Dr. Goff for contributing to my application this year with a recommendation letter.  The relationships I built with my faculty at ACU were a critical component to my application this year.

Ruqayyah: I was awarded the AAMFT Minority Fellowship in 2009, the same year that I entered my PhD program. For that reason, it is difficult for me to imagine what my doctoral experience would be like without being a Fellow. Since becoming a Minority Fellow, my professional goals have continued to expand. Those goals now include not only leaving the door open for someone else to walk through once I have achieved success, but also creating new, more efficient doors for others to walk through to experience a similar sense of accomplishment. The Fellowship continues to increase my awareness of ways in which I can better serve my community. For me, that is what the fellowship is about, community. Collectively, the Minority Fellows, program director, program manager, and our advisory committee create a space where we as a community can develop better ways in which to serve our respective communities. While the Fellowship has heightened my awareness of the significance of building a strong community, this concept was ingrained in me while in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at ACU. Every professor, supervisor, and member of my cohort created a community that worked toward providing the foundation for professionalism, leadership, and service that has propelled me forward in all of my endeavors. I am almost certain that without the MFT program at ACU, I would not be a Minority Fellow and for that, I will eternally be grateful.

Visit the AAMFT Minority Fellowship Program website for more information and to apply.

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