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New Jersey Dissemination Activities 2018

Paola Ricardo, New Jersey

Could you please tell us a little about you and your background?
My name is Paola and I am currently a third-year doctoral student pursuing a combined degree in Clinical and School Psychology at Kean University. I am Colombian born and migrated to the U.S. in my teens. While this transition was not easy at the time, I can now say that I am grateful that my parents made the difficult decision to uproot our family, so we could pursue new opportunities. My experience as an immigrant who has been able to navigate two different cultural experiences has informed my desire to pursue a higher degree and to support the work with underserved populations, as in my experience psychological treatment is not as widely available as it should be. I also happen to be a student who returned to graduate school after having worked six years in the mental health field and though I wish I would have started graduate school sooner, this experience has truly enriched my graduate school experience.

How did you become interested in CBS?
Prior to pursuing a graduate degree, I had become a yoga teacher and a meditator. The value that I found in acceptance and contemplative practices through my own experience colored the lens through which I saw the human experience. When searching for graduate programs, I realized how important it was for me to find a training program where I could incorporate these interests and where this kind of work would be supported. In addition, having worked with teenage girls experiencing behavioral difficulties prior to graduate school, shaped the way I conceptualized mental health challenges and it peaked my interest in learning about behavioral science. In finding Kean University, I found mentors that could support my work and interests and who introduced me to contextual behavioral science and ACT.

Could you tell us about your research and application interests?
My research interests are found in the intersection where mental health and the development or maintenance of chronic health difficulties meet. At this time, I am especially interested in how our relationship with food can influence chronic health difficulties that occur as a result of poor lifestyle choices. I am especially interested in the use of acceptance-based practices, yoga, and meditation as a means of cultivating behavioral changes that can lead to changes in lifestyle.

Could you tell us about your experience at the World Conference this year?
2018 was my first year at ACBS World Conference as I culminated my second year of graduate school. I had the opportunity to meet a number of wonderful people who were truly open to share knowledge, useful information, and who wanted to ensure I ventured to meet others within a community that prides itself in its generosity and willingness to share. In signing up as an ambasadee through the ambassador and ambasadee program, I met Grant Dewar, a health psychologist who introduced me to a number of people and who encouraged me to talk to participants of diverse interests while sharing with me what is like to be a health psychologist. I especially remember meeting for lunch with the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee, the committee that facilitated and made possible my participation at ACBS world conference. Its members were as generous, open, and easy going as I thought they would be based on my virtual interactions with them and what my experience at ACBS world con had shown me so far. Given my experience with them and my shared interests with the committee’s mission, I asked whether it would be possible to join as a student member. Luckily for me it was.

Was there anything that stood out to you about the CBS community?
Yes, I think their desire to share and cultivate a community that pursues shared values. In my interactions with those who have been part of this community for some time, I noticed that there was a desire to make me feel like part of this community. There did not seem to be a hierarchy which is something I truly appreciated as a student.

What did you take back from your experience that has been helpful to you?
Besides learning from the valuable workshops and presentations, I was able to learn more about the community and its values. Attending the conference also increased my confidence as an ACT practitioner, leading me to take on the opportunity to co-lead a workshop with one of my mentors while presenting to experienced practicing licensed psychologists.

Do you have anything else that you would like to share with the community?
Yes, I want to express my gratitude to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and its members for the valuable work they perform. Because of them I was able to engage in the enriching experience of presenting at ACBS World Conference and today I get the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of professionals through my participation as a student member in the committee. I also want to extend my gratitude to those who make this scholarship possible through their donations and for giving developing professionals the opportunity to bring their work to this valuable space.

Are you wondering how you can help to disseminate CBS in the developing world through scholarship opportunities like this? Please consider donating to the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fund via Paypal by using the button below. Your donation will help us continue to bring increased diversity to our annual conferences by providing funds for individuals who come from diverse backgrounds and who would not be able to attend an ACBS conference without this added financial support.

Every dollar/euro/yen goes to helping those in need -- not a nickel goes to administration. Money collected for this fund is distributed by an ACBS Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. Scholarships are awarded based on need and merit. 

Please note that this contribution does not qualify as a tax-deductible charitable contribution, according to USA tax law ... but it's a nice thing to do.

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