Ms. Jill Wallace is a master’s student in the community psychology program at Alverno College. She is a Services to Transition Age Youth (STAY) Master’s-level Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) fellow with the American Psychological Association, and she is currently developing mental health programs anchored in positive psychology and character strengths for and with transition age clients.
Jill decided to apply to the MFP after being moved by the staggering statistics associated with mental health disparities for ethnic minority youth and adults and the high number of ethnic minorities with mental health needs who have been targeted, incarcerated, and tracked into the school-to-prison pipeline. The STAY fellowship program was specifically designed for master’s students who have a strong commitment to a career in mental health services with youth in communities of color, between the ages of 16 through 25 and their families, and Jill knew that she fit the bill.
As a current MFP fellow, Jill is focused on developing mental health programs tailored to those transition aged clients of color and their families. She shared, “Many of my clients are impacted by the pandemic and impacted by the stigma of seeking and receiving mental health services. Many of them have been mandated by the courts to obtain and receive mental health counseling. Many of them have been incarcerated and many of them have untapped artistic and creative talents and abilities. The mental health disparities for communities of color and poor people aren’t new. The pandemic has simply enhanced the disparities and added another hurdle and barrier for accessing information, supports and opportunities.” Jill is hoping to make a difference in the lives of individuals like these by empowering them and giving them an opportunity to be their best selves by nurturing and promoting self-advocacy and navigating and sharing resources and opportunities.
When asked how the MFP has enriched her academic and professional career, Jill shared, “The MFP has provided an opportunity for access to research, innovative practice, and innovative program development through its wide array of professional development, mentoring, and creating a space for idea and program creation.” She also shared, “Being a part of the MFP is helping me build and nurture my professional network through relationship building and mentorship with mental health practitioners and organizations whose mission is to relentlessly work with underserved populations.”
Upon completion of the MFP, Jill will serve the needs of ethnic minority transition age youth in a comprehensive setting that provides wraparound services. She stated, “I will integrate the knowledge and skills I'm acquiring into my career as a mental health therapist by providing focused and targeted programs in practice. My experiences as an educator, social emotional learning coach, law clerk, higher education coach, editor, writer, filmmaker, producer, journalist, strategist, out-of-the-box thinker, and certified yoga instructor all anchor me and continue to prepare me as a helper transitioning into a career and my life’s purpose as a mental health therapist.”
When asked if she had any advice for anyone thinking about applying to the MFP, Jill said, “I would tell someone applying to the MFP to consider your individual and personal passions, interests and the needs that have not been addressed or the problems that continue without solutions; look at research, trends, and consider developing innovative programs based on those passions, interests, and the needs that have not been addressed in an in-depth manner. I would also tell them that innovative ideas are needed to address the plethora of ills, barriers and disparities experienced by minority populations.”