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Fordham GSE Scholars Chosen for Prestigious Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowships

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Counseling Psychology doctoral students Katrina Selverian and Sofya Yedigarian have each been awarded a Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship for outstanding scholarly work focused on Armenian culture and history. GSE Dean Virginia Roach celebrated the recognition of Selverian’s and Yedigarian’s work and strong applications, and noted that having “two awardees from the same school is indeed an honor.”

Selverian is a proud Armenian who discovered an interest in studying intergenerational trauma when she began the Counseling Psychology PhD program at Fordham. As she researched scholarships, including those specific to Armenian topics, Selverian found Dolores Zohrab Liebmann’s biography, which included details that mirrored her own family’s story. Liebmann was a survivor of the Armenian Genocide who fled to Europe and ultimately to America. She was from Istanbul, Turkey; Selverian’s maternal grandfather’s family is from Istanbul, too. Liebmann was also born the same year as Selverian’s maternal great-grandmother and namesake Maritza Aharonian; like Liebmann, Aharonian escaped the genocide. These shared experiences made applying for the Liebmann fellowship feel especially meaningful to Selverian.

Once she decided to apply for the fellowship, Selverian was easily able to determine her study topic: examining the impacts of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 on children and grandchildren of survivors. According to Selverian, the Genocide is significantly under-researched. She believes that discovering more information on its intergenerational effects will have important implications both for Armenian-Americans today and countless other victims of genocide and mass trauma around the world. Importantly, the fellowship will provide a level of financial security that allows Selverian to focus intensely on her research.

Selverian emphasized that the Counseling Psychology program’s rigorous requirements and the support of her mentor Joseph Ponterotto, Ph.D., Dean Roach, and other staff made it possible to put together the fellowship application very quickly. Selverian’s preparation included a recently completed Research Apprenticeship project, which was a qualitative study on the children and grandchildren of Armenian Genocide survivors. That study focused on attachment-related damages and resiliencies. More broadly, Selverian hopes to eventually work in a clinical setting helping trauma, depression, and anxiety patients.

Yedigarian originally became involved in research as an undergraduate at George Mason University, where she completed an honors thesis that examined how acculturation and ethnic identity are related to body dissatisfaction through Facebook use. During a subsequent internship at the Women’s Support Center (WSC) in Yerevan, Armenia, Yedigarian contributed to research for a published paper on the sexual and reproductive health outcomes of female victims of domestic violence in Armenia. By the time Yedigarian began her graduate career in Fordham’s Counseling Psychology PhD program, she, too, was well prepared to apply for the Liebmann fellowship.

Specifically, Yedigarian is studying the limited access to mental health services in Armenia and other post-Soviet states. In addition, she is interested in women’s issues, particularly those faced by women in underserved ethnic and/or racial groups, and intergenerational mental health issues among survivors of trauma, particularly genocide. Yedigarian is grateful for the fellowship’s financial assistance; like Selverian, she is thrilled to be able to focus more intensely on furthering her research surrounding the mental health issues of underrepresented ethnic groups.

Likewise, Yedigarian shared that Fordham’s Counseling Psychology PhD program has been instrumental in the development of her research interests. She particularly noted the importance of the program’s emphasis on preparing students to be culturally competent, with a focus on social justice-oriented practices. Yedigarian also thanked Merle Keitel, Ph.D., Jennie Park-Taylor, Ph.D., Dean Roach, and staff in the Office of Prestigious Fellowships for their support throughout the entire fellowship application process.

About the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship

In addition to focusing primarily on applicants engaging in studies centered on Armenian culture and history, there are a number of other criteria to earn the fellowship, including having an outstanding undergraduate record and demonstrating financial need. The fellowships cover the cost of tuition and provide an annual $18,000 stipend for living expenses and research and publishing costs.

About Dolores Zohrab Liebmann

As the daughter of Krikor Zohrab, a prominent Armenian intellectual, writer and statesman, Dolores Zohrab Liebmann actively supported students and educational and charitable organizations throughout her lifetime. The Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund continues her work and legacy in part by supporting the publication of dissertations or historical or literary works focusing on Armenian culture or history.

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