Introducing our Section IX Awardees

By Ruth Fallenbaum and Jane Hassinger

Last year, in response to a proposal by Section IX’s subgroup on Reparations, led by Lynne Layton, Ruth Fallenbaum and Jane Hassinger, the section’s Board approved a pilot project to use its funds to award stipends to African American and Indigenous graduate students in the mental health field.  This project, which launched in January of this year, represents a small attempt to repair the decades of under-representation of Black and Indigenous people in our field as a result of the systemic racism that has permeated both our country’s education system and America’s mental health professions.  The students will be free to use the stipends however they wish.  This year two students from George Washington University’s PsyD program were selected by a committee of Black or Indigenous educators, as stipulated by the conditions set out by the Section IX Board.  

Danielle Ledesma, a 4th year graduate student in GWU’s clinical psychology department, completed her undergraduate studies in English at Syracuse University.  Earlier, she had wanted to be a writer.  But, at the age of 10, she recalls telling her parents that she wanted to be a therapist.  Indeed, in her last year at Syracuse, she turned her attention to psychology.  Danielle received her Master’s in Counseling with a specialization in diversity at the University of Denver and later was accepted into the doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at George Washington University. Identifying herself as an Afro Indigenous Latina, Danielle admits to occasional frustrating negotiations at GW at the intersection of race, gender, and neurodiversity.  However, she has also felt very supported by some of her professors.  She hopes, once her training is completed, to work in a group private practice, teach, and especially to work with students like herself who struggle to survive and overcome white supremacy in our institutions of higher education.

Geoffrey Hervey is a 1st year doctoral student at George Washington University’s Clinical Psychology program.  Originally from Memphis Tennessee, Geoffrey graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where he was a Haslam Scholar, an honors program focused on creating positive, diverse communities and supporting achievement in scholarship, ethical leadership, and civic engagement. As he stated in his application to the Haslam Scholars program: “…from fencing to feminism, my interests run the gamut!” Geoffrey later received his Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Vanderbilt University. Long aiming toward a career in mental health, he has worked in a women’s prison as an instructor for a course on strategies for positive psychological coping, as a counselor in a low fee community-based clinic, and as a mental health counselor in private practice.  Although he considers his theoretical orientation to be eclectic, he selected GWU because of its reputation for excellent training in psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapies and research. Geoffrey is thrilled to be a recipient of the Division 39, Section IX scholarship and to be joining the amazing group of scholars in the division.


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