A graduate student at the University of HawaiʻiHawaiʻi at Hilo has been awarded the American Psychological Association (APA) Minority Fellowship in the area of services for transition age youth. This is the first award of its kind for a student at UH Hilo.

Rachel Gibson is a first-year graduate student in counseling psychology, whose specialization is in clinical mental health counseling.

“I’m very honored and humbled and am eager to get started with this fellowship program,” Gibson said. “I see this as a tremendous opportunity to further my knowledge and skills and am grateful to APA for giving me this award.”

The APA Minority Fellowship provides financial support of up to $10,000 for one year, and is funded by a grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“The fellowship is very prestigious and I’m so happy for Rachel,” said Bryan Kim, professor of psychology and director of the masters program. “The fellowship is a testament to her commitment to addressing diversity issues in mental health and her past and present efforts in this area. I interpret the fellowship as an investment by APA in Rachel to be a leader in this under attended area of work in our communities.”

Kim will serve as a training mentor for Gibson per the fellowship requirement.

About Gibson

Gibson has a strong commitment to a career in mental health services and serving ethnic minority transition-age youth and their families. Before entering the MA program, she worked with incarcerated and/or at-risk youth, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds, including Mexican American youths.

Gibson noted that during this time, although most of her clients spoke proficient English, many of their families were Spanish-speaking. Gibson studied Spanish for six years and lived in a Spanish-speaking country for some time, which helped her greatly in connecting with the clients’ families.

—By Alyson Kakugawa-Leong