By Nate Galvan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Among students pursuing a Ph.D. degree, very few are from underrepresented or ethnic minority groups. Enter the CSU’s Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholarship, which is designed to help students who have experienced economic and educational disadvantages prepare to succeed in doctoral programs.
For the 2021-22 academic year, the CSU has awarded three Sonoma State University students this distinguished $3,000 scholarship meant to increase the pool of potential CSU faculty by supporting student’s doctoral aspirations. All three students also are part of the prestigious McNair Scholars Program at SSU, which prepares high-achieving, first-generation or underrepresented students for admission into graduate school to pursue advanced degrees.
For Garrett Ennis, a soon-to-be second-year student, his difficult lived experiences are driving his pursuit of a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. The Sally Casanova Scholarship is a step towards his goal of practicing and teaching in the field of psychology so he can help others in similar circumstances, he said.
“I have experienced significant difficulties in my life which led to me seeking psychological services,” Ennis said, who is on track to graduate with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Pure Statistics. “While many people wanted to help me with my struggles, I found that those who have been through deep darkness like I had were able to reach down to pull me up and make me feel less alone, so I feel it's my obligation to return to help those suffering as I was.”
Along with Ennis, Amish Patel is another recipient of the Sally Casanova award. Patel, a third-year student currently living in San Francisco said he hopes to obtain his Ph.D. in Health Psychology and become a professor to serve and mentor students who, like him, are the first in their families to attend college. Patel's research that won him the scholarship centers around reimagining diversity training by reducing implicit biases.
“I encourage students to pursue the many programs available at SSU because they offer an amazing support system that often goes unutilized,” Amish said, who also is part of the Educational Opportunity Program at SSU. “I want to thank my faculty mentor Wenwen Ni and professor Andy Wallace for helping me with my research and being amazing mentors.”
Michelle Jones, who is pursuing her B.A. in English and aims to become an English professor at a university, said she found out about the McNair Scholars program from her first meeting with Disability Student Services after transferring from SRJC in 2020. She said the program has provided invaluable information regarding the ins and outs of applying to graduate school.
“They make the dream of attending graduate school attainable for those of us who enter college from traditionally underrepresented populations,” Jones said.
For Ennis, the program not only helped him get the Sally Casanova Scholarship, it also offered him the opportunity to participate in the Leadership Alliance Summer Research Program at Vanderbilt University this summer at their clinical psychology research lab.
“It has been absolutely invaluable to me,” Ennis said. “Since joining the program, I have been alerted of so many programs and opportunities that I never knew existed and have received the most gracious support through so many different projects and processes over the two semesters I've been attending SSU.”
Visit the CSU website for more information about the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Program. To learn more about the fantastic work being done by students, faculty, and staff at the McNair Scholars Program, visit http://mcnair.sonoma.edu.