Serving the Mental Health Needs of the Underserved Scholarship

December 23, 2017

The Serving the Mental Health Needs of the Underserved Scholarship established in William James College’s Center for Multicultural & Global Mental Health (CMGMH) reflects our commitment to promoting social justice and addressing mental health disparities among disenfranchised populations in the U.S. The highly competitive scholarship, which covers 2/3 of tuition costs, recognizes the achievements and promise of students, committed to pursuing Master’s (MA), Certificate of Advance Graduate Studies (CAGS) or Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degrees at William James College. Please read below to learn more about our 2017-18 scholarship recipients.

  Beverly Ibeh

“You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise.”

Still I Rise
— Maya Angelou

Beverly Ibeh is a first-generation Nigerian who was born in London where she lived until the age of 5 when her family moved to Nigeria. Beverly migrated to the United States at the age of 8 and recently became a U.S. citizen. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a minor in African-American studies from Syracuse University, and her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an emphasis in Couples and Family Therapy from William James College (WJC). Beverly is the only person in her immediate family who holds a graduate degree. During her Master’s program at WJC, she interned as a milieu counselor at Wild Acre Residential Program in Belmont and trained at the Preschool Outreach Program through the Home for Little Wanderers in Roslindale. Beverly is currently an Advanced Standing Student in the Clinical Psychology Program at WJC and is a trainee at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. 

Beverly’s primary focus is on expanding her knowledge about clinical psychology, specifically cultural competence in psychological practice. One of her goals is to promote awareness of the roles of mentors in every part of one’s journey—academic, professional and personal. She believes that mentoring promotes a sense of belonging and community in any environment, especially if considered a minority member. Beverly stated,

“I am living proof that mentorship is needed for the underserved because I would not be where I am in life without it. From my 5th grade teacher who promoted self-love and humility in our classroom to the professor who always had time to check in about my experiences as a Nigerian Black woman in a predominately-white institution These experiences may not be readily available to people who identify as being a member of a marginalized group… Working with youth in the community is a great way to continue to plant the seed [of mentorship] for purposes of professional representation and fostering a sense of normalcy in individuals who intentionally seek valuable mentors throughout their lives. [As a CMGMH Fellow] I will continue to work in the community to empower and appreciate the strengths of people who are typically underserved and share resources that promote holistic wellness.”

As a Scholar in the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy and a member of ALANAA at WJC, Beverly is part of a community of professionals who are committed to advocating for diversity and learning about various cultural groups in order to dismantle historical narratives that have proven to be false. Her priority is to be an active change agent for individuals in marginalized communities. In doing so, she will continue to hold hope that these repeated actions will contribute to a larger disruption of systemic disadvantages in this society. 

  Rosilyn Sanders

“So we grew together, like to a double cherry, seeming parted, but yet a union in partition, two lovely berries molded on one stem.” 

—William Shakespeare

Rosilyn Sanders received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas and her Master of Arts degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Rehabilitation and Disability from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Rosilyn is currently enrolled in the Organizational Leadership Psychology (OLP) Program at WJC. In addition to being a CMGMH Fellow, she plans to serve as a representative for the OLP Program and bring awareness to individuals with disabilities globally. Rosilyn has a nine-year professional background in program development for non-profit agencies representing people with disabilities and low-income families. In 2012, Rosilyn created and spearheaded a vocational program for low-income residents to receive a certified nursing assistant license by collaborating with a local medical staffing agency.

Rosilyn plans to seek practicum and internship opportunities in the field of OLP that will provide more hands-on experience to carve the career of her choice. Her long-term goals are to become one of the few, if not the first, African-American woman Organizational Leadership consulting psychologist from Arkansas; and continue to advocate for people with disabilities to help them become employable in their community. As a single mother and a caretaker of her mother who is experiencing renal failure, receiving the scholarship will provide invaluable financial assistance for Rosilyn to pursue her dream. Rosilyn stated,

“Being an award recipient shows me that William James College supports my passion and advocacy for people with disabilities as well as understands the needs of those who come from single-parent, low-income families. I did not grow up in the modern two-parent household; therefore, I am the product of an underserved community. I am so grateful to represent Arkansas in such a positive capacity. Because WJC believes in me and chose me out of several applicants, it fuels my desire to believe in myself and I know that the best is yet to come.”

  Darryl Sweeper, Jr.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

—James Baldwin

Darryl Sweeper, Jr. is currently an Advanced Standing doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program at William James College. He received his Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with emphases in Expressive Arts Therapy and African and Caribbean Mental Health at WJC.

Darryl has worked for non-profit mental health organizations in Reading and Lebanon, Pennsylvania; and state-funded community health centers and higher education in Boston and Fall River, Massachusetts. He has participated in international service learning programs in Thika, Kenya and Petit-Goâve, Haiti. To complement his clinical training at WJC, Darryl is currently enrolled in a certificate program to become a certified poetry therapist with the International Federation of Biblio/Poetry Therapy. His research  and clinical interests include topics related to diversity, especially prejudice and stereotyping towards racial/ethnic/sexual minorities, positive youth development, global mental health, co-morbid mental illnesses in people of color, and the role of creative arts in medicine.             

Darryl believes that the Serving the Underserved Scholarship speaks to the efforts of numerous WJC students, professors, and mentors who, through the sharing of their wisdom and tutelage, have created a space within the WJC community and in the larger society for social change, acceptance, and advocacy for those who are from different backgrounds. Darryl stated,

The creation of this scholarship symbolizes WJC’s commitment and responsiveness to the overwhelming mental health needs of underserved populations; and recognizes future psychologists and counselors for their valiant, persistent, and diverse efforts to reduce the burden of disparities that impact so many lives. I hope this scholarship will bring forward those who are both powerful in voice and action to be seen and cherished while inspiring incoming and younger students to join the cause in creating an epidemic of good health. To be among the first cohort of award recipients is a tremendous honor.

Darryl’s long-term goals include working in a behavioral medicine, hospital or integrated health care setting; conducting research on co-morbid illnesses and expressive arts in medicine; and doing international work and research in the Caribbean and Africa to understand the many conceptualizations of mental health and address health inequities. During his time at WJC, Darryl plans to collaborate with the PATHWAYS Program to help advocate for and address the mental health needs of youth in urban communities as well as work with programs that serve homeless youth. Darryl would like to create an expressive arts group for young boys of color in urban communities focusing on empowerment and positive identity formation.  

  April Clayton

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

April Clayton is a trauma survivor. She is a wife and a mother to six children, ages 7-20. Since 1999, April has worked within the criminal justice system in numerous capacities, ranging from juvenile corrections to hospital security. In those positions, she had the opportunity to complete risk assessments, participate in treatment groups for offenders, implement treatment plans, and testify in criminal and civil commitment hearings. She also volunteered for several organizations such as the Pregnancy Resource Center, Clackamas County Youth Gang Taskforce, and the Oregon Department of Corrections. April stated,

“Participating in the legal process as a trauma survivor enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of how the system works. I became increasingly interested in victim advocacy and providing community protection... I developed a desire to help put an end to mass incarceration in this country. I want to advocate and provide clinical services to those who receive inadequate defense, disproportionately long sentences, or those who are otherwise unable to aid in their own defense. Providing these services will help drive down recidivism rates, enabling us to keep our communities safe and intact. I want to be an advocate for social justice, especially as it relates to those in contact with the legal system (victims, offenders, and everyone impacted by crime).”

As a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Program at WJC, April plans to work at training sites where she can serve the most vulnerable members in our community. She seeks to increase her knowledge about psychology and the law, participate in social justice initiatives, and organize events on civil and human rights. Her long-term goals are to work within the legal system, be an advocate and a voice for reform, and influence policies that help reduce recidivism. “It has been my life goal to be a voice for those who have none,” said April. “I understand what that feels like in a deeply personal way.”

  Michelle Codner

“Don’t just count your days, make your days count.”

Muhammad Al

Michelle Codner was born and raised in Jamaica and moved to the United States nine years ago to pursue an employment opportunity at a residential facility. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of the West Indies and acquired a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the American International College. She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at William James College.

Michelle has worked with clients in a group home for many years and has experience working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, Intellectual Disabilities, Oppositional Defiant Disorders, Conduct Disorders, Reactive Attachment Disorders, Bipolar Disorders, Depression, and Anxiety. As a graduate student at WJC, Michelle plans to contribute to the field of psychology by participating in volunteer activities and acquiring the skills necessary to assist clients in coping with their psychological distress. Her long-term goals include opening a private practice and a charitable foundation, teaching at a college, and traveling the world to offer pro bono services. Michelle plans to continually ad  vocate for the clients and families with whom she works, in particular those who face issues of inequality, discrimination, racism, and prejudice. She plans to participate in campaign drives to educate marginalized individuals on their rights and societal laws, and attend trainings geared towards harm reduction and empowerment of the underserved to challenge systems where they are unfairly disadvantaged.

  Sothavy Doeur

"Do not try to be deep. Try to be clear and depth will follow.”

—Nomy Arpaly

Sothavy Doeur is a graduate student in the Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program at WJC where she is completing an Emphasis in Expressive Arts Therapy. She graduated from Boston College in 2015 with a major in Applied Psychology and Human Development. She was the first in her family to graduate from college and matriculate to a master’s degree program. Sothavy was inspired to pursue a career in psychology due to her experience growing up with parents who suffered from PTSD and depression from the Cambodian genocide. She has a strong desire to learn more about mental illness in order to better serve individuals in her Cambodian community where conversations about mental illness are often suppressed.

Sothavy’s long-term goals are to become a licensed mental health counselor and Expressive Arts Therapist, acquire more knowledge about the effects of war-related trauma and depression on populations affected by genocide, and continue her service learning and volunteer work with the Cambodian community. Sothavy plans to obtain a doctoral degree, ideally in Counseling and Dance/Movement Therapy. One of her passions is breakdancing; also know as “breaking”. She remarked, “breaking has truly helped me discover my sense of self through various movements, and has helped me find a strong community of support that has shaped my overall identity.” She further noted, “A lot of my parents’ values have taught me to maintain a strong sense of grit—that is, the ability to be courageous, the development of passion from what you do, and the will to keep going.” Her ultimate dream is to open a counseling center that will incorporate expressive arts as an integral part of a person’s development for self-growth, healing, and transformation.