Eduardo Diaz-Santiago is a master’s student in the Couple and Family Therapy Program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). He graduated magna cum laude in fall of 2019 with his B.A. in psychology from UNLV. He is a traditional master’s level Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) fellow with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), with an anticipated graduation date of December 2022.
Eduardo was initially drawn to the MFP because of the program’s goals as well as the various training offerings and networking opportunities. He shared, “Becoming a fellow was important to me because it meant receiving trainings that would aid me in becoming a culturally competent therapist and allowed for the opportunity to network with others who also see the importance of increasing the competence of people of color and serving communities of color. My Mexican-American, low-socioeconomic status, first-generation student background also contributed to the decision of working with communities of color and thus led me to apply to become a fellow.”
When reflecting on how the MFP will enrich his academic and professional career, Eduardo shared his excitement to embark upon his MFP fellow journey. He explained, “Although I just began with the fellowship, I have already had the opportunity to connect with many tremendously brilliant individuals in my master’s cohort. As I continue to become fully acclimated into the program, I look forward to working with my assigned team to create culturally competent worksheets and interventions that will be immediately useful for clinical work with clients. I am also looking forward to connecting with my mentor and previous fellows as I go forward into the mentorship and community portions of the program.”
Participating in the MFP is also helping Eduardo to build and nurture his professional network by connecting him with like-minded colleagues. He remarked, “The MFP has given me the opportunity to network with other master's-level fellows across the country, which has broadened my understanding of what programs and clinical work is like elsewhere in the MFT community and beyond. Making these connections with colleagues who have goals to serve similar populations has been especially beneficial as I have not gotten the chance to connect with anyone in my own graduate program who has similar interests because of my unique background.”
Eduardo’s career goals include working with an agency that serves communities of color and eventually going into private practice. He shared, “Post-MFP, I intend to work with an agency wherein my clientele will be encompassed by people of Latinx, Spanish-speaking backgrounds, and/or marginalized identities of color. After becoming acclimated into post-graduate life, I want to leave agency work and begin a private practice wherein I will offer sliding-scale rates, and a pro-bono spot. I also intend to crowd source money to offer additional, free therapy to people who could otherwise not afford it. Long-term, I would like to establish a non-profit organization that provides free therapy to people who have been historically underserved in the mental health field.” Eduardo would also like to give back to the MFP as a mentor. He explained, “I would like to become a licensed supervisor in the MFT field to help other likeminded MFT interns/students.”
Eduardo plans to apply the knowledge and skills acquired from the MFP to his professional practice as a marriage and family therapist serving Latinx, Spanish-speaking, and other marginalized communities of color. He shared, “What I learn through the MFP will be invaluable in my career. Receiving supplemental training in tandem with my UNLV courses that cover such topics are essential to my success in working with such populations. I will use what I learn in the program to directly inform the treatment I provide to these communities that are in desperate need of competent professionals of all domains.”
When asked if he had any advice for anyone thinking about applying to the MFP, Eduardo provided these encouraging words, “Apply so you may have a great wealth of opportunities to further your competence as a therapist or whatever profession you are pursuing. The MFP does not only raise one’s cultural competence, but it allows one to enrich their knowledge of the profession due to the numerous opportunities to expand their perspectives as one interacts with a variety of people and attends an equal variety of meaningful and helpful trainings.”
Eduardo provided these final remarks about the MFP and the AAMFT staff, “The AAMFT MFP staff are very helpful and passionate about their work. The director, Mr. Jermaine Lowery, presented to my cohort during my first semester at UNLV and what he shared really inspired me about my future in the program. Because of Mr. Lowery’s presentation, and my professors’ own experiences as a fellow, I was encouraged to become a part of the MFP. The faculty are equally as enthusiastic and reassure me that this will be a wonderful and meaningful experience.” Eduardo looks forward to beginning his various projects and activities in his cohort and anticipates the growth and challenges that will come along with the program and shape him for his professional career.