UH Hilo graduate student awarded fellowship from American Psychological Association

A main criteria for the fellowship is having a strong commitment to a career in mental health services with ethnic minority transition age youth (ages 16 through 25) and their families, which matches up perfectly with Rachel Gibson’s career plans.

Rachel Gibson
Rachel Gibson

A graduate student in the master of arts in counseling psychology program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo has received a Services for Transition Age Youth Fellowship from the American Psychological Association (APA). The Minority Fellowship is the first award of its kind for a student at UH Hilo.

Rachel Gibson is a first-year graduate student whose specialization is in clinical mental health counseling. The fellowship provides financial support of up to $10,000 for one year, and is funded by a grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“I’m very honored and humbled and am eager to get started with this fellowship program,” says Gibson. “I see this as a tremendous opportunity to further my knowledge and skills and am grateful to APA for giving me this award.”

A main criteria for the fellowship is having a strong commitment to a career in mental health services with ethnic minority transition age youth (ages 16 through 25) and their families, which matches up perfectly with Gibson’s career plans. Before entering the UH Hilo graduate program, she worked with incarcerated and at-risk youth, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds, including Mexican American youths. She notes that during this time, although most of her clients spoke proficient English, many of their families were Spanish-speaking. Gibson studied Spanish for six years and lived in a Spanish-speaking country for some time, which helped her greatly in connecting with the clients’ families.

UH Hilo Professor of Psychology Bryan Kim, who serves as director of the master of arts in counseling psychology program, will serve as a training mentor for Gibson per the fellowship requirement.

“The fellowship is very prestigious and I’m so happy for Rachel,” says Kim. “The fellowship is a testament to her commitment to addressing diversity issues in mental health and her past and present efforts in this area. I interpret the fellowship as an investment by APA in Rachel to be a leader in this under-attended area of work in our communities.”

Media release.