Stephen C. Rose Legacy Scholars

The goal of The Stephen C. Rose Legacy Scholarships is to promote the emotional well-being and mental health of youth in ethnically diverse communities. By supporting competitive scholarships for research on the mental health challenges facing college students of color, the Fund is supporting the growth of a generation of scholars with knowledge and capacity to address the mental health needs of our target population.

Recent & Past Scholars

Robina Onwong’a, the recently selected Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) Steve Fund Scholar, is a Maryland native with Kenyan roots. She received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, French Language & Literature, and International Studies from the University of Maryland. She is a rising 4th year Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri’s (Mizzou) Counseling Psychology Program. She serves on a few executive boards: The Association of Black Psychologists, Student Circle, Communications Chair; Mizzou’s African Graduate and Professional Student Association (AGPSA), Secretary; Mizzou’s Counseling Psychology Student Organization (CPSO), 4th Year Doctoral Representative. As part of her clinical training, Robina has provided career counseling and currently provides individual therapy and co-facilitates group therapy at a community mental health clinic that uses an integrative behavioral health care approach. She also conducts clinical assessments at an autism and neurodevelopmental clinic. Robina’s research focuses on the influence that psychological trauma in early age has on psycho-social-emotional development, ethnic identification, and belonging for historically marginalized and underserved people, particularly those of African descent. She aspires to develop and consult about the implementation of culturally appropriate interventions that will support the mental health of those individuals, facilitate healing, and ultimately, spread love. Robina likes photography, teaching, facilitating workshops, traveling, spending time with family and friends, and fruits, to name a few significant things.

Melissa Wheeler, the recently selected Society of Indian Psychologists (SIP) scholar, is an incoming Ph.D. student in the Combined Counseling/School Psychology in the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at Northern Arizona University. She received her BA in Psychology and her MA in Counseling Psychology from the University of North Dakota (UND), where she has been involved in numerous academic and professional research topics in various programs related to social and cultural factors involving mental and behavioral health wellness in rural underserved American Indian/Alaska Native/Native Hawaii communities. Her long-term goals are to be a licensed psychologist working with Indigenous populations while also teaching in the postsecondary setting.

Thania Galvan, the winner of the 2017 Stephen Rose Scholarship and NLPA Scholar, is a doctoral student in the clinical psychology PhD Program at the University of Denver. Thania recently completed her M.A. in child clinical psychology at the University of Denver, where she is a Ph.D. candidate. Her personal history navigating the differences between American and Mexican culture and values as a Latina immigrant born in Mexico to adolescent parents forms the basis for Thania’s research interest and career pursuits. Her dissertation will use a culturally and contextually sensitive framework to develop a mental health intervention focused on building resiliency in children of undocumented Latinx immigrants. She will continue working with Dr. Omar Gudino, her research mentor, in the university’s Services for At-Risk Youth and Families (SAYF) Lab that he directs. Learn more about her project here.

Khushbu Patel, the winner of the 2017 Active Minds Stephen C. Rose Scholarship, is a second year Master’s student at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. A native of Philadelphia suburbs, she completed her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology at Drexel University, while working in the Nezu Lab. She served as a Research Assistant on various projects, and as interim Project Manager for one year in a pilot RCT exploring the efficacy of Problem-Solving Therapy in hypertensive patients. Since then, she has worked as a Clinical Research Assistant with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Violence Prevention Initiative. In this role, she supported facilitation of an aggression-reduction program based in West and Southwest Philadelphia Public Schools. In her social work program, she is exploring many interests including U.S. urban public school systems, juvenile justice systems, and mental health research focusing on Asian American ethnic groups. Learn more about her project here.

Alfred Delena, a 2016 Stephen C. Rose Legacy / Active Minds Scholar, is a 5th year undergraduate senior majoring in Human Biology and minoring in Education at Stanford University. Alfred’s research focuses on understanding the lived experience of well-being among undergraduate students of color currently enrolled at a highly selective university. Alfred’s interests stem from his own experience of being a first-generation, low-income, Native college student and his desire to contribute to helping expand the conversation about holistic approaches to mental health, especially for students of color on college campuses.

Heidi T. Tuason, a 2016 Stephen C. Rose Legacy / Active Minds Scholar, is a doctoral student at UCLA in Community Health and minoring in Asian American Studies. She has been working around mental health stigma with the Filipino community for the past three years, and has been a digital stories facilitator for the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley, CA for the past 6 years, and has seen how digital storytelling has been an effective tool in stimulating dialogue about unspoken stories of mental illness in the Filipino community. She has also facilitated interactive activities to encourage the sharing of mental health stories, using art, music, and theater, and has worked for 5 years with various student organizations at UCSD, UC Berkeley, and UCLA as a mentor for historically underrepresented minority students and has a particular interest in their retention and well-being, as she herself has walked in their shoes.

Vanessa V. Volpe, M.A., a 2015 Stephen C. Rose Legacy Scholar, is a Doctoral Candidate in Developmental Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research broadly focuses on the developmental significance of race-related experiences with a focus on the strengths that adolescents and young adults of color use to navigate these experiences. She directs a laboratory focused on the health of Black individuals and is the Principal Investigator of an ongoing mixed methods study of Black college students’ experiences at a predominantly white institution. Her dissertation work on explicating the processes through which coping strategies impact mental health has been supported by a grant from the American Psychological Association. She is privileged to work with several community-engaged programs in the public school district and university and to mentor future generations of change makers.

Ming-Che Tu is the winner of the 2016 Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA) Stephen C. Rose Scholarship. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Counseling Program of the Department of Applied Psychology at New York University. His research interest focuses primarily on Asian American mental health, specifically among immigrant population and on its mental health disparity. His dissertation topic, entitled “What Is Career Success? Asian American Psychology of Working,” extends the intersection between Asian American and vocational psychology. Under the mentorship of Dr. Sumie Okazaki and collaboration with other members of her lab at NYU, Ming has also been instrumentally involved in numerous projects studying topics that include analysis on the experiences and challenges of mental health professional working with Asian Americans and exploratory research on the experiences of Chinese young adult recent immigrants. Ming also holds leadership position in the Asian American Psychological Association and is active in a wide array of other professional organizations as well. Ming received his B.A. in psychology from Hunter College, the City University of New York, and M.A. in clinical psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. He has published regularly in peer-reviewed journals such as the Asian American Journal of Psychology, Transcultural Psychiatry, Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, and Community Mental Health Journal.

Effua Sosoo is winner of the 2016 Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) Stephen C. Rose Scholarship. This fall she will be a second-year doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Williams College. Her research interests include examining the physiological and psychological mechanisms that mediate the link between stereotype threat and academic performance among black students. She is also interested in understanding how racial discrimination combines additively and interactively with other racial stressors to impact the physical and psychological well being of Black individuals. She hopes that her program of research will ultimately equip Black students to succeed in academic settings and seeks to become one of the leading scholars in stereotype threat and racial discrimination research.

Mercedes Fernández Oromendia, M.A., is the winner of the 2016 National Latina/o Psychology Association Stephen C. Rose Scholarship. She is a fifth year PhD candidate in counseling psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research interests broadly focus on how to best support Latino/a youth and their families from a strengths-based perspective. For example, one of her recent projects examined the barriers and bridges second-generation Latina/o college students encountered during college. The goal is to understand how to bolster protective factors and address challenges faced. Results of this research will be presented at the biannual NLPA conference in September. Mercedes is also passionate about increasing the number of Spanish-speaking and culturally-sensitive practitioners in the United States. Under the guidance of her advisor Dr. Andrés Consoli, she developed a Spanish Skills for Culturally Minded Academics course to provide a space for fellow graduate students to practice vital competencies when seeing Latina/a clients. In addition, she is committed to international engagement and the dissemination of research across borders. She served a two-year term as the co-chair of APA’s international division’s student committee, presented a symposium in Argentina and is currently completing an externship in Buenos Aires.