2022 Master's Fellows
Meet the 40 mental health counseling master’s students named as 2022 NBCC Foundation MFP Fellows.
Mental Health Counseling Master’s Fellows
Each MFP mental health counseling master’s fellow will receive $10,000 to support their counseling education and to recognize their commitment to underserved and underrepresented communities.
Mabel J. Amara (she/her) – Manassas, Virginia
Mabel Amara is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and is currently a master’s student in the marriage, family, and couples counseling program at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
After graduation, Mabel intends to build a strong collaboration between counseling professionals and local Black church institutions to serve individuals, couples, and families with effective mental health services. She is particularly interested in intertwining spirituality and religion into therapeutic spaces. She also has research interests in the intersectionality between spirituality, race, ethnicity, and therapy. Earning this fellowship will allow her to attend counseling conferences to develop professionally, receive relevant and specialized training to better serve underserved populations, and support her educational journey.
Raven Ayele (she/her) – Chicago, Illinois
Raven Ayele is a graduate of Illinois State University and is currently a master’s student in the school counseling program at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Upon graduation, Raven intends to work with Black adolescents from low-income families in Chicago, providing mental health services along with academic and postsecondary support. Earning this fellowship will enable her to gain additional training, a mentor, and other opportunities that will help her learn more about conducting interventions that will strengthen her impact on this population’s mental health and overall quality of life.
Aaruba Ayesha (she/her) – Boston, Massachusetts
Aaruba Ayesha is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is currently a master’s student in the mental health counseling and behavioral medicine program at Boston University.
Upon graduation, Aaruba plans to serve refugee families and those seeking asylum. Her interest to work with refugee communities stems from experiences both locally and abroad. During her undergraduate career at UNC-Chapel Hill, Aaruba volunteered at a local organization committed to serving refugee families in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. She also spent one summer in her home country of Bangladesh to volunteer at the Rohingya refugee camps. Both of these experiences were integral in shaping her desire to integrate inclusivity within the field while destigmatizing mental health in immigrant and refugee communities. Aaruba is grateful for this fellowship, as it will grant her further opportunities to grow, learn, and use evidence-based practices to advocate for and support individuals facing trauma.
Victoria Ashley Bangaree (she/her) – Queens, New York
Victoria Bangaree is a graduate of St. John’s University in Queens, New York, and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York.
As a counselor-in-training, it is her ultimate goal to treat clients with obsessive compulsive disorder and specific phobias, as well as provide mental health services to the Guyanese and Guyanese American population living in the United States. Two of her long-term goals are to help destigmatize obsessive compulsive disorder in the general population as well as destigmatize seeking mental health services in the West Indian community. Victoria is grateful for the MFP Fellowship, as it will assist her in covering her educational expenses and be especially helpful while she completes her practicum and internship hours for her program.
Natalie Bartlett (they/them) – Jacksonville, Florida
Natalie Bartlett is a graduate of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and the University of South Alabama. Natalie is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Jacksonville University.
Upon graduation, Natalie intends to serve sexual, affectional, and gender-diverse youth and young adults in all areas of their lives. As a non-binary queer individual themselves, they are passionate about providing high quality, culturally competent care that can help the LGBTQIA+ community heal and be empowered to lead in their communities. Natalie has identified a significant need for LGBTQIA+ counselors, especially those competent in non-binary and transgender care. Additionally, they intend on using ecotherapy and adventure therapy with an emphasis on group work as tools for healing the trauma that is associated with holding a marginalized identity. Earning this fellowship will allow them to attend conferences that will strengthen their skill sets as a counselor, build a professional presence in the state of Florida, and provide them an avenue for advocacy in the counseling profession.
Mariana Boden (she/her) – Seattle, Washington
Mariana Boden is a graduate of San Diego State University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Seattle University. After graduation, Mariana intends to work with children and families who have struggled to receive the mental health care they need to thrive. Her goal is to practice evidence-based approaches such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which will allow her to support her clients in healing while creating new, healthier narratives in their lives. Additionally, she also plans to advocate for these communities while assisting them in processing their trauma history. Earning this fellowship will provide her with critical support and development in evidence-based practices as she works to better serve underserved populations.
Karla Campos (she/her) – Carol Stream, Illinois
Karla Campos is a graduate of the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and Northeastern Illinois University. She is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Northwestern University.
Karla is a first-generation immigrant, born and raised in Guadalajara, México. Her experiences as a low-income immigrant, mother, and woman of color drive her passion and interests in feminism, intersectionality, decolonization, and collective liberation for all. While pursuing her master’s degree, Karla provides psychotherapy in English and Spanish to low-income individuals with a range of presenting concerns. As a minoritized individual, Karla understands the importance of honoring and respecting her clients’ cultural identities, ways of healing, and stories from a non-pathologizing perspective. Therefore, she is committed to decolonizing counseling to better serve those who have been marginalized historically by society and the profession. Upon graduation, Karla plans to work with Latinx communities, especially sexual assault survivors, monolingual Spanish-speaking individuals, and LGBTQ+ populations. Receiving this fellowship will allow her to obtain access to educational resources, clinical trainings, conferences, and the opportunity to build a community with other scholars committed to making mental health care accessible to all.
Nadia Chaudhary (she/her) – Santa Monica, California
Nadia Chaudhary is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Northwestern University.
Matilda Oluwabukola Dada (she/her) – Iowa City, Iowa
Matilda Dada is a graduate of Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Antioch University. After graduating from her program, Matilda plans to serve individuals who are first- and second-generation Africans in the diaspora with a focus on refugees and those who have experienced trauma, including childhood trauma, post-migration trauma, abuse, and other varied experiences that can result in trauma. In many African cultures, mental health is often not addressed and is stigmatized. Matilda is committed to changing the narrative. She is also passionate about delivery of access to affordable mental health services. This fellowship will provide her with access to a network of other professionals, allow her to attend conferences and trainings that will educate her in trauma-informed practices, and equip her to be an advocate for underserved persons. She is excited about the mentorship and guidance she will receive that will help her achieve her goal of becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor.
Jyotsna (Joy) Dhar (she/her) – Chicago, Illinois
Joy Dhar is a graduate of George Washington University and is currently a master’s student in clinical mental health counseling at Northwestern University. Joy is a 1.5-generation Kashmiri American committed to learning, unlearning, and understanding narratives for individual and collective empowerment. Joy’s goal is to use her clinical and research skills to work alongside minoritized communities for healing, collective liberation, and social justice. As a career changer, with a background in digital consulting, international affairs, and grassroots community work, Joy hopes this fellowship will enable her to interact with, learn from, and build community with like-minded clinicians, scholars, and aspiring change agents in the counseling profession. Upon graduation, her goal is to work with BIPOC individuals, migrants, and refugees in clinical practice. In the future, she aspires to teach, research, and practice from an anti-oppressive/liberationist lens.
Keyonte J. Easter (he/him) – Charlotte, North Carolina
Keyonte Easter is a graduate of East Carolina University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. Upon graduation, Keyonte aspires to work with collegiate or professional athletic programs as a mental health professional. He also intends to volunteer with local churches, high schools, and middle schools to provide education for youth and parents alike in minoritized populations. In pursuing these avenues, he hopes to make an impact directly through the service of providing mental health care to those in underserved communities. This fellowship will expose him to the connections necessary to solidify a professional foundation, build upon the wealth of knowledge made available to him via workshops and conferences, and establish a counseling identity to be most effective in his mission.
Caitlin Fair (she/her) – Trenton, New Jersey
Caitlin Fair is a graduate of The College of New Jersey and Rider University and is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in the clinical mental health counseling program at Rider University. Upon graduation, Caitlin intends to work with youth and young adults in Trenton, New Jersey, who have been impacted by community violence and other trauma, as well as with LGBTQIAP+ individuals. She plans to develop resources and practices that will help connect individuals impacted by community violence, the criminal justice system, and other trauma with appropriate and culturally competent therapeutic services. She is particularly interested in developing a community wellness center that would provide holistic wellness practices, expressive arts, and body-oriented mental health interventions. Earning this fellowship will allow her to further develop as a community-oriented mental health counselor through training opportunities, knowledge-sharing, and professional identity development.
Kayla J. Fointno (she/her) – Tulsa, Oklahoma
Kayla Fointno is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health and school counseling program at Oklahoma State University. After graduation, Kayla intends to work with underrepresented populations who don’t have access to mental health counseling. She would like to provide free faith-based counseling services to children and families. This fellowship opportunity will allow her to build personal and professional relationships with the counselors of the future. The conferences and professional development events she attends will also enable her to widen her scope as they relate to an avenue in which she can be of service to her community.
Rachel Gail Jacobs (she/her) – Red Springs, North Carolina
Rachel Jacobs is both a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and a current master’s student in the school counseling program. After obtaining her master’s degree, Rachel will work in the same community she grew up in, servicing the mental health needs of underserved and underrepresented individuals. Rachel also hopes to help normalize counseling in her community. Earning this fellowship will allow Rachel to strengthen her abilities as a multiculturally competent counselor, establish lifelong relationships, and receive the extra guidance to become a National Certified Counselor.
Antonique Jones (she/her) – Raleigh, North Carolina
Antonique Jones is a graduate of Arizona State University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Antonique has a deep commitment to helping those who have suffered in silence and whose needs are underserved by institutions that neither serve nor recognize their lived realities. Upon graduation, Antonique intends to work with members of the Black community, veterans, and individuals living in underserved and under-resourced communities. Long term, her goal is to create an integrated network of community wellness centers and therapists to provide assistance and treatment to underserved rural, overcrowded, and oppressed urban neighborhoods where resources are extremely limited to provide these communities with culturally responsive, accessible, and integrated clinical mental health services. Earning this fellowship will allow Antonique to expand her knowledge in working with these communities and assist her in furthering her counselor identity while learning best practices for working with her desired demographics.
Rafael Joseph (he/him) – Morgantown, West Virginia
Rafael Joseph is a graduate of Elmira College in Elmira, New York, and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at West Virginia University. Upon graduation, Rafael intends to work with the Haitian American population that struggle with traumatic or crisis-like circumstances in an urban environment. This interest has stemmed from his familial roots and upbringing in Boston, Massachusetts, but he draws growing interest in the rural population while attending West Virginia University for his master’s degree as well. Both populations hold a prominent place in his life, and he strongly believes that earning this fellowship will support him in the imperative professional growth that counselors of all walks must go through. This walk offers him the consistent and well-versed guidance that many counselors who look to work for underserved populations need.
Allison Joyal (she/her) – Corpus Christi, Texas
Allison Joyal is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Upon graduation, Allison plans to serve children and adolescents but specifically pediatric oncology patients and trauma survivors. Her passion for these populations began in her previous role as a Child Life Assistant at her local children’s hospital where she recognized the unmet mental health needs of the patients she encountered. Her professional aspirations include becoming a Registered Play Therapist, certified in sand tray and animal assisted therapy.
Her goal is to make continuous efforts to increase the resiliency of our youth by using early intervention as a means of prevention by increasing access to mental health services and providing developmentally appropriate services for these populations. During her fellowship year, she plans to implement a group counseling program that she created with her peers to help pre-teens in her community who have a childhood cancer diagnosis in remission to increase their resiliency and prevent mental health concerns from manifesting into adulthood. As a member of the Fighting Texas Aggie Class of 2020, she plans to integrate her Aggie core values into her professional identity as a future mental health counselor, leader, and advocate in her profession. Earning this fellowship will afford her the opportunity to reach her academic and professional goals, which will help her to positively impact the underserved populations she is dedicating her career to serving.
Keonna A. Knight (she/her) – Richmond, Virginia
Keonna Knight is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where she focuses on couples and family counseling. Upon graduation, Keonna plans to pursue licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor and integrate mental health counseling into her wellness business, Heal with Keonna. Through her work as a counselor and wellness educator, she intends to support Black women, youth, and families in breaking generational cycles and creating their own paths to wellness. Keonna plans to cultivate a multigenerational healing center in Richmond, Virginia, where community members can access culturally relevant scholarship on Black holistic health, culturally intentional therapy, community yoga classes, and urban gardening.
Earning this fellowship will allow her to continue her education at Virginia Commonwealth University and enroll in online training programs related to intergenerational healing, narrative therapy, and cultural somatics. This fellowship will help Keonna to expand her capacity to cultivate multigenerational healing spaces where cycles of silence around mental health are broken and Black women, youth, and families are holistically supported.
Lor Shoua Lee (she/her) – Fresno, California
Shoua Lee is both a graduate of and a current master’s student in the clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling program at California State University of Fresno. Upon graduation, Shoua hopes to use her lived experiences as a refugee and Hmong American to facilitate the healing of marginalized communities, particularly those that have the intersecting identity of being communities of color with immigrants and/or refugees. She leans into her ancestral resilience and celebration of culture to inspire others toward authenticity and liberation. She also intends to contribute to the growth of others by participating in preventative workshops and mentorship for adolescent youth of marginalized communities. She believes in the innate goodness of humanity and that our potential is much more than we can comprehend. It is her aspiration in her work as a counselor to not only support the healing of people but help them realize their full potential.
Michelle` Louis-Jean (she/her) – Chicago, Illinois
Michelle` Louis-Jean is a graduate of Central Pennsylvania University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Michelle`s passion and vision is to serve the Haitian community, and she plans to support individuals in Haitian American communities who are dealing with mental health disparities because of familial trauma, physical displacement, and/or social anxieties from public perceptions of being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. The MFP Fellowship will allow her to network with other aspiring mental health professionals. The resources that the fellowship provides will also allow her to serve her community and develop innovative solutions to expand effective practices to address mental health concerns. She plans to bring awareness to the Haitian community and educate them on the positive benefits of mental health resources.
Megan Mancini (she/her) – Portland, Oregon
Megan Mancini is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Portland State University. Upon graduation, Megan intends to work with communities of color using somatic and systems approaches to support clients who have experienced racialized, complex, and developmental trauma. As a trans-racial adoptee, the core of Megan’s professional work and counselor identity comes from her personal journey of unlearning patterns of systemic oppression. She has been working in public schools as a group facilitator for BIPOC youth, providing safe spaces that encourage expressions of joy and vulnerability as tools for liberation, healing and community.
During her fellowship year, Megan plans to establish and facilitate a BIPOC support group for other counselors of color at her university in order to provide a space that examines themes of race-based trauma in higher education. Ultimately, Megan plans to blend her decade long experience as a yoga teacher with her deep love for Internal Family Systems, Hakomi, and Gestalt therapies to provide a therapy practice that uses experiential and somatic approaches as tools for healing trauma.
Kimberly Mena (she/her) – Coconut Creek, Florida
Kim Mena is a graduate of the University at Buffalo and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Liberty University. Upon graduation, Kimberly intends to work with the military population. As a veteran of the Marine Corps and the Army, she understands the struggles of trying to navigate military life. Kimberly hopes to work with this population and make an impact on the stigma of mental health for veterans. She plans to work with the Department of Veteran Affairs until she can open her own practice that focuses on employing alternative therapies for those who suffer from trauma and anxiety-related disorders. Earning this fellowship will allow her to receive mentorship, attend counseling conferences to establish a stronger professional identity as a counselor, learn evidence-based practices to better serve the military population, and advocate for the counseling profession.
Riley Murphy (she/they) – Cincinnati, Ohio
Riley Murphy is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Northern Kentucky University. Upon graduation, Riley aspires to work with LGBTQIA+ individuals of all ages as they navigate their identities within the context of a society that tends to either misunderstand or mistreat them. Riley is interested in utilizing ideas of narrative therapy with LGBTQIA+ individuals to combat repressive cultural narratives, replacing them with more affirming and celebratory narratives. Being transgender themselves, Riley is particularly interested in assisting other transgender individuals with the process of transition by using gender-affirmative models of care and connecting them to appropriate resources. Earning this fellowship will facilitate Riley’s professional development as a counselor by providing resources, mentoring, and training. This fellowship will assist Riley in becoming a knowledgeable and competent provider for members of diverse groups.
Kevin Overton-Hadnot (he/him) – Austin, Texas
Kevin Overton-Hadnot is a graduate of Stillman College and a master’s student in the school counseling program at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. After graduation, Kevin plans to work with adolescents and young adults in underserved communities in central Texas. He intends to help break barriers through socially conscious advocacy and praxis to address issues involving adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and racially minoritized individuals. This fellowship will provide the mentorship and resources that will bolster his development and his capacity to impact many lives and communities in the future. His goal is to be a beacon of hope to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and offer culturally competent care by creating a safe and brave space for all to heal.
Sehar N. Palla (she/her) – Baltimore, Maryland
Sehar Palla is a graduate of The University of California, Los Angeles, and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Johns Hopkins University. Sehar aims to facilitate clients’ healing and growth through multiculturally competent mental health counseling and to reduce barriers to access mental health care services for marginalized populations. Originally from Pakistan, Sehar is interested in working with immigrant and bicultural populations; navigating life transitions; and dealing with anxiety, depression, or trauma. Earning this fellowship will empower Sehar to develop her skills as a trauma-focused and culturally competent clinician.
Ernesto Federico Pequeño (he/him) – Weslaco, Texas
Ernesto Pequeño is both a graduate of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and is a current master’s student pursuing his Master of Education degree in counseling with a concentration in clinical mental health counseling. After graduation, Ernesto will utilize what he learns from this fellowship to impact his community in the Rio Grande Valley and work with the LGBTQIA+ and the Latino/a/e population. His goals are to foster and work toward liberating psychology practices that decolonize the therapeutic experience to fit the needs of his community. Ernesto strives to continue to advocate for mental health access and grow into his counselor and professional identity. Earning this fellowship will support his region by applying the knowledge and mentorship to help invigorate the counseling community at-large.
Tania Perez Rodriguez (she/her) – Arlington, Virginia
Tania Perez Rodriguez is a graduate of Idaho State University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling and forensic and legal psychology programs at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. Upon graduation, Tania intends to work and bring mental health services to the Latinx population through advocacy, education, and community-based efforts. As a bilingual individual, she plans to utilize her skills and knowledge to bring culturally competent treatment to those coming from immigrant families, including asylum seekers and refugees. She also hopes to help destigmatize the meaning of mental health in the Latinx community within the United States. Earning this fellowship will allow Tania to further her counseling identity through mentorship, learning of evidence-based practices, and the overall resources to effectively serve underserved communities.
Marilyn Arechiga Quintero (she/her) – Fargo, North Dakota
Marilyn Quintero is a graduate of Valley City State University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at North Dakota State University. Upon graduation, Marilyn intends to work with children and families, particularly the Latinx community. As a bilingual individual, she plans to utilize her skills and knowledge to provide services. Language barriers and health care are often a reason why Latinx individuals do not seek mental health services. Marilyn will offer Spanish-language counseling services in an effort to bridge the gap among underserved populations. Earning this fellowship will allow her to attend counseling conferences and training sessions to establish a stronger professional identity as a counselor and learn evidence-based practices to better serve the Latinx community.
Estefani Cecilia Reyes (she/her) – Houston, Texas
Estefani Reyes is a graduate of Texas A&M University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Sam Houston State University. Following graduation, Estefani will engage Latinx and African American individuals and communities in strengths-based and decolonized counseling, advocacy, and education efforts. Estefani firmly believes in the power of counseling to facilitate equitable life opportunities and wellness. Alongside transitioning underserved and marginalized populations from survival to living, she envisions counseling as a macrolevel tool for shaping our collective psyche.
She wishes to explore and address intersectionality, social locations (i.e., person x environment interactions), and transgenerational trauma. Such interests lend to a particular focus on ‘subpopulations’ such as Afro-Latinx and ethnic minority immigrants, given their multifaceted and often overlooked realities. This fellowship will equip Estefani with resources, strategies, and connections to fulfill her drive and confidence to be a community-engaged change agent. She will cultivate a strong professional identity and skillsets rooted in humility and culturally sensitive practices through strengthening individuals, communities, and the counseling profession. These skills are foundational in continuing her journey with coming full circle to her community.
Angela Reyes (they/she) – Portland, Oregon
Angela Reyes is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University, Pomona and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Portland State University. Angela intends to offer therapeutic services to LGBTQIAS+, immigrant, and refugee communities upon graduation. Throughout the course of their program, they are committed to serving QTBIPOC folks in emerging adulthood within the greater Portland metropolitan area. Upon licensure, Angela plans to assist legal immigration cases by conducting psychological evaluations for low-income immigrants, refugees, and their families. Advocating for their clients in 1:1 session and through civic engagement is of the utmost importance to them. The fellowship will allow them to receive supportive mentorship and participate in trauma-informed training opportunities that will better support the lives they’ll serve.
Amaury Rodriguez Penilla (he/him) – Fort Collins, Colorado
Amaury Penilla is both a graduate of and a current master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Colorado State University.
Romina Romero-Hermoso (she/her) – Weaverville, North Carolina
Romina Romero-Hermoso is a graduate of the Universidad Mayor and the Universidad Católica in Chile as well as Seattle Central College. She is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Antioch University.
Samaria Stovall (she/her) – Aurora, Colorado
Samaria Stovall is a graduate of the University of Colorado Denver and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Colorado Christian University. Samaria is passionate about serving children, adolescents, and underserved racial communities, and she intends to continue her work in the Pediatric Mental Health Institute at Children’s Hospital Colorado (CHCO) after graduation. As a grateful recipient of this fellowship, Samaria is able to use the funds for her education in order to focus on her work at CHCO and volunteering with the Crisis Text Line. Being at CHCO provides Samaria the opportunity to serve patients and families from minoritized communities who may not otherwise have access to mental health treatment. This is critical to her, because she is a firm believer that everyone, no matter their background, deserves the highest quality mental health treatment.
As a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line, she serves people of all ages and backgrounds in order to help them cope with a difficult situation. Both of these experiences prepare Samaria well for serving her target populations. In addition, the valuable learning experiences and mentorship that this fellowship provides will assist Samaria in becoming the best counselor she can be. Samaria plans to take those counseling skills directly back to her community to support children and underrepresented racial groups.
Shyam Suchak (he/him) – Toldeo, Ohio
Shyam Suchak is a graduate of Lourdes University, the University of Toledo, and is currently pursuing his master’s in clinical mental health counseling from Spring Arbor University in Michigan. He is also currently serving as the Chief Organization Development Officer at Anne Grady Services, which helps people with disabilities. Through his responsibilities as a human resource professional and a leader in his place of work and the community, he has identified a strong need for therapeutic support for people to function to their full potential.
Shyam is an immigrant of Indian origin, was born and raised in Tanzania, and lived in India for 4 years. He holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership and is a John Maxwell Certified Coach, Teacher, Trainer, and Speaker. Shyam is committed to providing mental health services to the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those who struggle with their sexual orientation based on their cultural and ethnic backgrounds. He wants to explore and understand the applications of various counseling theories like affirmative cognitive behavior therapy through the lens of a person-centered approach, which has been proven to help work with this demographic. Although this community will be of focus, Shyam plans to support the therapeutic needs of other demographics within the community.
After graduation, Shyam has lined up a potential internship opportunity with a psychologist in Toledo, Ohio, that would allow him to work with the LGBTQIA+ community. Based on personal experience, he also wants to offer his services virtually to take down the barrier of the stigma attached to mental health issues in the Asian and African communities. This platform would make the services safely accessible to those who struggle with in-person visits.
Kyla Thompson (she/her) – Indianapolis, Indiana
Kyla Thompson is a graduate of Indiana University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Indiana Wesleyan University. Upon graduation, Kyla intends to work with young adults and single parents from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds. She would like to assist in changing the dialogue within underserved communities about mental illness, stigmas, and disparities in hopes of potentially changing the trajectory for generations that follow. Earning this fellowship will allow Kyla to form valuable partnerships with like-minded fellows and learn how to better advocate for and serve underserved populations by building upon her knowledge through various learning opportunities.
La’Porsha D. Timmons (she/her) – Killeen, Texas
La’Porsha Timmons is a graduate of Texas State University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Upon graduation, La’Porsha intends to work with a variety of individuals and groups from underrepresented and underserved groups such as men, women, veterans, and those struggling with the rehabilitation process. She feels passionate about helping underserved families as well. This fellowship will allow her to develop the skills needed to be a strong practitioner and advocate for the groups she will soon serve.
Laetitia Jeanne Allidagbe M. Tokplo (she/her) – Atlanta, Georgia
Laetitia Tokplo is a graduate of Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. She is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. Laetitia is passionate about working with multicultural communities and adapting services to the needs of diverse groups. Her interests include migration-related loss for immigrants and refugees as well as trauma-focused therapy as applied to displaced persons and survivors of complex trauma. Having conducted trauma narrative treatment workshops with survivors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Laetitia believes in the healing power of storytelling and envisions herself using this methodology to fill the gap in mental health services for clients from and in developing nations as a practitioner, researcher, and educator.
As recipient of the NBCC MFP Fellowship, she hopes to continue developing her skills in trauma-informed care, group counseling, and career development so she can empower her multicultural clients with practical services. Her intention is to work with immigrant and refugee clients in the United States after graduation and to eventually establish a mental health and career counseling center in Benin, West Africa.
Alexandra (Sasha) Mieko Vasilou (she/her) – Chicago, Illinois
Sasha Vasilou is a graduate of Loyola University and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Northwestern University. Upon graduation, Sasha intends to work with folks experiencing intergenerational trauma and post traumatic stress disorder/intentional human design within the Asian American community, and specifically within the Japanese American community whose wounds from unjust internment often go ignored. With a trauma-informed lens and training in psychodynamic and narrative therapy, Sasha hopes to offer culturally suitable access to mental health care. Earning this fellowship will allow her to attend educational conferences, develop the nuanced skills of group therapy work, and consult with leaders in the community.
Jessica J. White (she/her) – Hampton, Virginia
Jessica White is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, Morgan State University, and is currently a master’s student in the clinical mental health counseling program at Regent University. Jessica intends to work with teachers working in urban school districts with a large minority population. She hopes to do this by partnering with local community organizations, mental health agencies, and urban school systems to meet the mental health needs of teachers serving in high-need schools. Jessica would also like to work with parents and caretakers of minority students in high-need schools who would benefit from mental health education and counseling. Teaching is Jessica’s passion and being able to teach and counsel with all the wisdom she receives is her goal. Earning this fellowship will allow her to receive additional training in mental health counseling, access to a network of other mental health counselors with a common goal, and opportunities to advocate for teachers’ mental health.
Mark Anthony Williams Jr. (he/him) – DeLand, Florida
Mark Williams is both a graduate of and a current master’s student earning a dual degree in clinical mental health counseling and marriage, couples, and family therapy from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. Upon graduation, Mark intends to work to reduce stigma toward receiving counseling in African American communities. He wants to increase access to and trust of mental health counselors in those communities, so that African Americans can experience the right to competent mental health care. This fellowship will give him access to in-depth diversity training, mentorship related to serving underserved populations, and trainings for professional development.