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New Grad Students Encouraged to Apply for Tuition Fellowship

Students applying to SUNY Plattsburgh graduate programs are encouraged to apply to the Graduate Diversity Fellowship Program for one of five awards equivalent to full in-state tuition for the 2013-2014 academic year.

According to Marguerite Adelman, director of graduate admissions, newly applying graduate students must complete an essay explaining how they contribute to the diversity of the student body in their programs and how they have overcome an impediment to success in higher education.

“Fellowships are offered at the same time as acceptance for admission. It is a one-year award for tuition. There is no work obligation,” Adelman said. “And when we say diversity, we mean in the broadest sense of the word in addition to racial and ethnic diversity. The applicant could be a cancer survivor, an older parent returning to school, a woman going into a field that’s traditionally for men, or a man entering a career traditionally held by women.”

Adelman said they like to encourage everyone to apply.

“We include information on the fellowship in every application packet,” she said. “If applicants take the time to read it, they could find a way to show their own eligibility. People don’t necessary think of their own special circumstances as diversity.”

Students who received the 2012-2013 fellowships were students Shakira O’Garro and Takia Cabellero in the graduate mental health counseling program; Venessa Gaston in the certificate of advanced study/master’s program in school psychology; Kewsi Burgess in the master’s in special education program; and Jacqueline Chan-Seng, a master’s teaching student in adolescence education in French.

O’Garro, an African-American who has a dual psychology and English major, said in her essay for the fellowship: “Although minorities receive a substantial amount of mental health services, the psychology field is inundated with psychologists from upper-middle class backgrounds. According to the American Psychological Association, minorities have accounted for approximately 19 percent of Ph.D.s since 2002. However, only six percent are black.

“In the past 40 years, psychologists have begun to understand how cultural competency can impact the efficacy of counseling. And as a volunteer in a low-income mental health clinic for children, I have seen this problem first hand. Because of these experiences and my background as an African-American female from the Bronx, I have developed a great understanding of how culture can influence compliance with treatment plans and inform a patient’s rapport with their therapist. With this knowledge, I can bring a new perspective to the mental health counseling program at Plattsburgh.”

Chan-Seng, of Chinese descent, was born and raised in Madagascar.

“I grew up in a rich multicultural environment where the French, the Chinese and the Indians lived and worked closely with the indigenous Malagasy people,” she said in her essay. “While assimilating the Malagasy culture, the different ethnic groups have also preserved their own language, religion and customs. I grew up speaking Chinese at home, French in school and Malagasy everywhere else.

“My experiences have taught me to become more understanding and open-minded, to keep a positive outlook of life and to accept people with their own backgrounds and differences,” she said.

Graduate fellowships are awarded annually pending SUNY funding. The deadline for the 2013-2014 fellowship is Feb. 15, 2013.

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