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April 1, 2018

UMass Boston doctoral candidate wins Society of Clinical Psychology’s First Diversity Award

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  • Boston
Jennifer Martinez, is the first-ever recipient of the Society of Clinical Psychology’s Student Diversity Award

Jennifer Martinez, a doctoral candidate in UMass Boston’s Clinical Psychology PhD Program, is the first-ever recipient of the Society of Clinical Psychology’s Student Diversity Award, an award that honors a student for their exemplary contributions to diversity within the field of clinical psychology.

In its announcement last month, the SCP said Martinez received the award in part for developing a website to identify culturally competent clinicians in Boston willing to see undocumented clients pro bono or on a sliding scale. When they teach social psychology classes to UMass Boston undergraduates, Martinez includes images of people of color in her lecture slides and integrates discussions about oppression and marginalization.

“When talking about families I try not to make heteronormative assumptions of these families and households. In my exams, I try to include diverse names, not having it just be John,” Martinez said. “It does take a little bit more time and effort, but it’s worth it for me to take that time so that students know that their experiences are included or considered.”

As an advanced doctoral student, Martinez leads a number of workshops on campus on topics such as stress management for UMB-UR-BEST, or University Resources for Behavioral and Educational Skills Training. They also train UMass Boston staff on LGBTQ considerations in the workplace and addressing identity and how to have discussions around different identities.

“With being immersed in this literature that’s so emotionally charged and in a political climate where there’s so much pushback, it feels really meaningful to be able to do things that not only get me through the program but really help other people,” Martinez said.

For their dissertation, Martinez is developing a brief intervention for coping with racism and seeing how effective it is in reducing depression, anxiety, and anger in adults of color.

“I really want this be an intervention that can be easily disseminated, which is why I’m looking at people of color generally and trying to see if there are general trends and patterns that clinicians, researchers, that people generally can use to support people of color,” Martinez said.

Originally from Orlando, Florida, Martinez, 30, was doing research in Rhode Island for coming to UMass Boston for both their master’s and PhD.

“UMass Boston really stood out as being the only clinical psych doctoral program that really focused on social justice and integrating diversity and understanding people’s contextual background and experiences in research and clinical work and teaching. It was clear that it was so infused in everything that we learn or are taught about – that it wasn’t just a single class that we were required to take,” Martinez said. “The commitment to diversity and to social justice was just in line with what I valued and what I wanted to be doing and it was just a great fit.”

After they complete the program, Martinez wants to stay in academia. Last year they received a three-year Ford Foundation Fellowship, which is given to doctoral students of color who want to remain in academia to mentor other students of color.

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