Ms. Ayli Carrero Pinedo is a doctoral student in counseling psychology at the University of North Dakota. She is a traditional doctoral-level Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) fellow with the American Psychological Association.
When deciding to apply for the MFP, Ayli was confident that the American Psychological Association Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Fellowship would have an immense impact on her training as a future clinician and leader in racial/ethnic minority psychology, particularly Latinx psychology. She explained, “I believe that my work needs to have meaning beyond the field of counseling psychology, and the lifelong network, mentorship, and financial assistance from the MFP would be fundamental in supporting these efforts.” For her dissertation, Ayli is seeking to understand the role of legal status as a social determinant of health in a sample of documented and undocumented Latinx immigrants. She credits support from the MFP for alleviating costs associated with her research.
Ayli described how the MFP has enriched her academic and professional career in many ways, “MFP has shown me that people who share my identities can be successful. Also, it has pushed me to be more vocal about the importance of diversifying the healthcare workforce, the need for culturally competent mental health providers, and the role of substance abuse in health disparities. I have met senators and their legislative staff (in Washington, DC) to discuss these issues.” Furthermore, Ayli attributes the MFP for helping her build and nurture her professional network by connecting her with professionals from diverse backgrounds who have provided an opportunity to discuss issues affecting communities and to learn what to expect as an early-career psychologist. She shared, “Building professional relationships within the MFP has been a validating experience, because we often do not see people like ourselves in these roles. As a first-generation immigrant and student, these professional networks are invaluable.”
Ayli’s post-MFP career goals are to provide trauma-informed monolingual and bilingual behavioral health and psychotherapy services to Latinx people and other underserved individuals in rural areas. As a future psychologist, she recognizes the high need for psychologists to be part of integrated and multidisciplinary teams. She explained, “I look forward to learning and collaborating with community members and other professionals to develop strategies that address the social determinants of health undermining the quality of life of the people we serve. Everyone deserves the chance to heal at an individual and community level.” When considering her future career, Ayli highlighted the substance abuse didactic hours completed during her fellowship year as a key component of her training. She explained, “This has been an important aspect of my training as I am learning about substance use treatment from trauma-informed and strength-based perspectives. I believe this knowledge will continue to inform my identity as a future psychologist.”
When asked what advice she would offer prospective MFP fellows, Ayli shared, “My advice is to apply and to not get discouraged if you are not selected on your first try. I was awarded the fellowship the second time I applied. Also, reach out to current fellows and the MFP staff to ask questions. We want people to succeed!” Ayli is proud to be part of this fierce group of leaders and grateful that there are programs, like the MFP, committed to diversifying the mental health profession.