The work of Professor Jairo N. Fuertes, Ph.D., inspired Reyes to come to Derner. She is thrilled she did.

by Amanda Hayman

As a psychology major at City College of New York, Mariela Reyes intended to pursue a Ph.D. in Psychology. It was the work of Jairo N. Fuertes, Ph.D., an associate professor at Adelphi’s Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies that inspired her to come to Derner. She is thrilled she did.

“The mentorship is there at Derner; it is vital,” Reyes said. She described the curriculum as “versatile, well rounded and always keeping me on my toes.”

Her main interests, which she also shares with Dr. Fuertes, are understanding the interpersonal relationships between the patients and therapists and studying the unmet metal health needs of minority groups that are unable or unwilling to seek help.

“I came across the work of Dr. Fuertes during my search for graduate programs,” Reyes said. “I was really attracted to his expertise in multicultural counseling and his affiliations with Nassau University Medical Center. I then had the opportunity to meet and speak with him before selecting potential mentors, and when we discussed several of his ongoing projects and my goals for graduate school, I knew and felt we were a good fit.”

Reyes is about to start working on her second-year dissertation on the stigma of mental health and disparities within Latino and Afro-Caribbean populations. For her research, she plans to involve the population she is currently working with at a nursing home in Uniondale, New York.

Another overarching interest for Reyes, and an ultimate goal of hers, is to address the psychological needs of youth who are struggling with substance abuse. “Substance use disorders among adolescents and young adults—specifically in the urban community—[are] highly prevalent and often comorbid with other psychiatric issues such as depression and anxiety,” Reyes said. “A goal of mine is to provide psychotherapeutic services to youth who are either at risk of developing substance use disorders or who currently [are] struggling with abuse and require appropriate services.”

For Reyes, the Derner Institute has provided welcome intellectual rigor and the opportunity to build a career. “It is a program that’s going to give you a rich experience,” she said. “It is challenging, but very meaningful. You get what you’re looking for.”

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