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U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

December Fellow of the Month

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Samuel Ocasio-Dominguez

December 2019 Fellow of the Month Profile Photo
Samuel Ocasio-Dominguez is currently a post-graduate counseling fellow at Tuttleman Counseling Services at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In his role, he provides individual and group therapy to both undergraduate and graduate students. He is an alumnus of the American Psychological Association’s MFP program and received his M.S. in 2015 and is currently a Ph.D. candidate.

Samuel was originally drawn to the MFP program after the MFP mentors visited Puerto Rico to promote the fellowship in 2016. He shared that “as a first-generation Puerto Rican student from a disadvantaged background, I always had to work and study at the same time.” The support that the MFP program offered was Samuel’s chance to commit solely to his studies for the first time in his life. In addition to this opportunity for a support network, he knew what it was like to be a marginalized minority as “a gay Latin man in a conservative Caribbean culture” and realized that his goals as a clinician were well-aligned with those of the MFP program. These factors ultimately led him to apply for APA’s fellowship program.

Upon entering the fellowship, Samuel envisioned gaining access to resources that would be necessary for him to become an advocate for the mental health of Latin communities in America, as well as learning how to support marginalized sexual and gender minorities. Over the last few years, he has been able to really focus on his goal of supporting not only Latin students, but international students from all backgrounds. He has been empowered to recognize the strength of being both bilingual and a member of the LGBTQ community and has been fortunate to have several opportunities to explore those intersectionalities, both personally and professionally.

Samuel remarked that he is “deeply grateful” for his mentor, Dr. Reuben Brock, who, along with “all of the other MFP mentors,” have supported him throughout his time as a fellow and beyond. Just one month after becoming a fellow, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, and Dr. Brock made himself available to provide guidance and support during that devastating time. Samuel attributes his ability to succeed during this time to the support that his MFP mentors were able to provide and says that “the MFP lifetime commitment shows up through the dedication and passion of our mentors.”

When asked what career building advice he would offer current MFP fellows, Samuel had this to share: “Ask for help and support…know [you] are not alone…it is OK not to be OK, and sometimes our weaknesses and flaws makes us even more powerful and stronger. Be proud of your work and own your power as an MFP fellow. Use that power to make a difference around you.”

And for anyone who may be considering applying for the MFP, Samuel says “Just committing to complet[ing] the application process [will] be a stepping-stone in your career…. I was a different clinician and a different person after the reflective work I had to do while completing my application. Trust in yourself and move forward. The application process will allow you to organize your career goals and to create a better vision of your future.”

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