Student Profile: Erika Sanchez Helps At-Risk Minority Children and Families

Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Erika Sanchez

Erika Sanchez, a first-year graduate student in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, has spoken to us how important family is to her and what motivated her to choose CCSP. Sanchez has been working with Dr. Miya Barnett on The PADRES lab and she confirms that has been the highlight of her studies at GGSE. “Erika is extremely passionate about improving mental health services for Latino parents and their children...there is no doubt that she will make an amazing impact on the field with her brilliance, kind spirit, and commitment to social justice,” Dr. Barnett writes. “I am so fortunate to be able to mentor a young scholar like Erika.”

GGSE: Tell us a little bit about your research interests.
Sanchez: My research interests are the role that socio-cultural factors play on mental health disparities among at-risk minority children and families, with an emphasis on the interplay among culture, parent-child interactions, and exposure to childhood adversity (e.g., stress, poverty, child maltreatment) on children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors problems, and improving treatment and engagement outcomes for ethnic minority families in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT).

GGSE: What has been a source of motivation for your graduate studies?
Sanchez: My family has been the greatest source of motivation in my graduate studies. As a first-generation, low-income student, it has been my goal to persist and succeed in my academics to reciprocate all the sacrifices my parents have made and the support they have provided me. At the same time, I want to become a source of motivation for my younger siblings and other immigrant students to pursue their goals, whichever those may be.

GGSE: What made you decide to attend GGSE/CCSP?  
Sanchez: The decision to choose the CCSP was a combination of the combined nature of the program, which allows students to interact with faculty with expertise in different areas of psychology, research projects and network opportunities with community agencies, leading to exceptional fieldwork experience. 

GGSE: So far, what has been a highlight from your experience in the program or from your fieldwork experience in a classroom?
Sanchez: The PADRES lab, led by Dr. Miya Barnett, works with promotoras (Lay Health Workers), community members without formalized mental health training, to increase access and engagement in evidence-based parent training programs for low-income Latinos. As part of the PADRES lab, I had the opportunity to present research updates in Spanish at a meeting with the promotoras we have been closely working with. Such experience was like no other I have had. Being able to present research to community members (outside the academic setting) was empowering and motivating! 

GGSE: If you could give an hour lecture on any topic, what would it be? 
Sanchez: Providing mental health services to Spanish-speaking families.

GGSE: Do you have hobbies or take part in other non-academic activities?
Sanchez: I am a family person. I enjoy every moment I am able to spend with family members. I am also a big fan of movies and all kinds of cultural events!