Doctoral psychology student Schenike Massie, M.A. interviews Associate Professor Jairo Fuertes, Ph.D.

By Schenike Massie, M.A. and Jairo Fuertes, Ph.D.

Jairo Fuertes, Ph.D.,  joined Adelphi University’s Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies as an associate faculty member in the fall of 2011. A graduate of the University of Maryland, Dr. Fuertes brought with him a background in teaching, research and clinical practice. He has spent his career dedicated to mentoring budding clinicians, researching aspects of multicultural counseling and the therapeutic relationship, as well as providing supportive clinical interventions based on the findings of his research. Dr. Fuertes arrived at Derner with a breadth of knowledge and experience that has served him well in his role as Chair of the Diversity Committee. 

SM: Thank you so much for agreeing to participate in this interview. We thought that this would be a great opportunity to highlight the all the great work that the diversity committee has done in the past year and identify some of the committee’s future goals. I suppose I should start by asking you when and why did you become involved with the committee?

JF: Thank you for doing this. In the fall of 2011 I was approached by another faculty member who suggested that I get involved. After discussing it a bit with that faculty member I was able to see that there is a need for this type of committee, and I have an interest in promoting diversity within the Derner community.

SM: What are some of the things the committee has accomplished in your time here?

JF: We’ve done quite a few things. We were able to sponsor Diversity Day last spring and we received positive feedback on that event. We’ve also started an online Diversity Library, which serves as a resource for students who are interested in researching diverse populations. The library was recently opened over the summer, so the database is small but we are hoping to continue to increase the resources available to students there over time. We’ve conducted several focus groups, one of which you were involved in, and the faculty response to the student suggestions that come from those groups has been amazing. Last year, students suggested that faculty members that represent the broad spectrum of human diversity are encouraged to teach and/or supervise in the doctoral program, and that has happened. With the support of Chris Muran, we are also in the process of reinstating the Student Diversity Group, which is expected to reconvene next semester.

SM: You all have done a tremendous amount of work in the past year. Are there other things you would like to accomplish with the committee?

JF: Yes, of course. We would like to create a separate web page for the Student Diversity Group, sponsor a diversity conference in April, and further develop our existing web page so that it highlights the importance of diversity at Derner. Additionally, we would like to follow up on the student recommendations we received during this year’s focus groups. For instance, we would like to inquire about prospective students’ experience, research, and interest in diversity within clinical settings during the application process. This may be a more realistic goal for next year’s written application process; however, this year the committee will participate in the interview process.

SM: That sounds amazing; I’m especially excited about the diversity conference. I enjoyed the event last spring.

JF: This April we would like to do something similar. We plan to have two speakers, round table discussions, general discussions, and lunch will be provided.

SM: Has the committee considered doing an “in-house” diversity workshop in addition to the other conference? One that is exclusive to Derner students and faculty?

JF: Yes, that is definitely a possibility.

SM: Okay. My last question is, how can students and faculty be of assistance to the committee and its initiatives?

JF: They can submit references for our online library, they can share strategies for strengthening the committee’s presence and effectiveness, and attend either the student group or committee meetings.

SM: I hope that this article sparks some interest and encourages the Derner community to become involved with both the Diversity Committee and the Student Diversity Group. I’ve been really impressed with the things you all have accomplished.

Published 2012 in Day Residue the Derner Institute Doctoral Student Newsletter

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