WP Graduate Students Win Prestigious American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program Awards

Melissa Zea and Kimberly Perez-Lucero

Kimberly Perez-Lucero and Melissa Zea, both entering second year as master’s degree students in clinical and counseling psychology at William Paterson University, each received prestigious American Psychological Association (APA) 2022-2023 Minority Fellowship Program awards.

Both graduate students are Latinx, first-generation college students involved in William Paterson’s school-based program in Paterson, N.J. to give back to the community.

Perez-Lucero received the APA’s award for Services for Transition Age Youth (STAY). This fellowship award is designed for students whose training prepares them to provide mental health services to transition-age youth, ages 16 through 25, and their families.

Perez-Lucero has assisted with a Spanish-speaking group for newly arrived Latinx students at a public school in Paterson, as part of the Paterson Project led by the Culture and Resilience team at William Paterson. “Dr. Ma and Dr. Torres are my mentors in the lab,” she says. “They have provided me with tremendous support, and they have continued to guide me in exploring my research and career interests. This includes multicultural counseling and the risk factors that contribute to the mental health disparities amongst racial and ethnic minorities.”

Zea received the APA’s Interdisciplinary Minority Fellowship Program (IMFP) award for graduate students who commit to significantly improving the quality of care provided to ethnic and racial minorities who have a mental or co-occurring mental and substance use disorder.

With support from the IMFP, Zea will be able to further her education and receive training that will help her develop a well-rounded program for ethnic minorities. She is working on creating a child development program for children who are referred for misconduct issues, depression, anxiety, or other diagnoses. “I want to be a part of the movement that brings change to the mental health services provided to racial and ethnic minority groups,” she says.