Kabeel Dosani (Counseling Psychology Ph.D.) was accepted to the prestigious the American Psychological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) as a fellow for the predoctoral Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services program. Only 7% of applicants are accepted into the MFP, which is committed to “increasing the number of ethnic minority professionals in the field and understanding the experiences of minority communities.” Read more about the program.
During the next year, Kabeel will participate in a variety of trainings, workshops, and events focusing on behavioral health issues as well as receive mentoring and professional development support.
What do you hope to gain from the fellowship experience?
I hope to become more competent in serving ethnically and racially diverse communities’ needs, both psychologically and systemically. I think that developing multicultural competency is an ongoing process, but the Minority Fellowship Program provides significant opportunities for growth in these skills.
Additionally, I hope that this program further enables me to bring light to silenced voices and advocate for underserved and understudied populations.
What motivated you to pursue a doctorate in Counseling Psychology?
I have been passionate about psychology since high school and initially aimed to pursue psychiatry. However, the limited interaction between psychiatrists and patients made me realize it was not the right path for me. In my sophomore year at the University of Florida, I became heavily involved in a social justice organization focused on immigrant advocacy. I joined due to my own connections to this subject, yet I had not realized how significant it would be to my career development. Through this organization I met a doctoral student in the University of Florida Counseling Psychology program and learned about the field’s connection to social justice. I later got involved with her research on undocumented immigrants and found my niche.
What are your career plans?
I really enjoy working on research focused on marginalized communities and their resilience, particularly in undocumented communities. I think that this is an often neglected and understudied population in our field and I hope to continue developing awareness and support for the complex challenges they face. In addition to serving as a researcher, I also aim to begin a practice that provides holistic services for underserved communities.
What has been the best experience in the program to this point?
The moment I received the email that I was selected for the Minority Fellowship Program might be difficult to top, but I think my favorite part of this program has been the opportunity to work with Dr. Eric Chen. Apart from his diverse research interests and strong commitment to social justice values, Dr. Chen is an incredibly genuine and supportive mentor.
Although Kabeel is obviously an intelligent and hard-working student, what I appreciate the most about her, however, is her fierce dedication to social justice, which seems to stem more from the person that she is than from a professional, intellectual interest. She has spoken with me about her passion for various social justice initiatives and for providing mental health services to socially vulnerable populations. As such, she often sought out opportunities to enhance her multicultural competencies as a researcher and as a clinician.– Dr. Eric Chen, academic and MFP adviser
Can you describe your fieldwork and research experiences?
I will begin my first externship in the fall at LIM College, which has a large international student population. I hope to enhance my cultural competency and develop additional clinical skills.
I’m also currently assisting a study with a student at the University of Florida focused on undocumented immigrants’ strengths and barriers. I have also been assisting Dr. Eric Chen in his project on undocumented students’ identity negotiation in achieving educational and career goals. These opportunities have helped me develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be undocumented and their immense resilience in overcoming significant barriers. I think this work also highlights the importance in recognizing the impact of intersecting identities and systemic inequities.
What advice do you have for future Fordham GSE students?
I think for students of color especially it is crucial to recognize and remember that you deserve to be here. I struggle with imposter syndrome and being selected for MFP still feels surreal. There are not many students of color in the Graduate School of Education and only three in my cohort*. This is definitely an issue to be rectified, but gaining validation and encouragement from each other is a powerful tool of support. I also think it is important for GSE students to be genuine and passionate towards their professional endeavors.
*Ed Note: GSE is committed to increasing diversity of our student and faculty populations. To aid this effort, we recently introduced the GSE Diversity Scholarship. While Kabeel’s cohort is 27% students of color, we are pleased to report that 50% of our incoming Counseling Psychology cohort self-identifies as students of color, using the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) classifications.
This interview has been edited for length.