Chesleigh Keene, a doctoral student in the Morgridge College of Education (MCE) Counseling Psychology program, is an exceptional student and an exemplar of inclusivity. She is an American Psychological Association (APA) Minority Fellow, is working on her dissertation, coauthoring a book chapter on best psychological practices for Native American girls and women, and working on her first first-authored article. In addition, she serves as the Research Chair for CO Psychological Association of Graduate Students (COPAGS).

Chesleigh combined professional and personal interests when she reached out to the Native American community in Denver through a nonprofit called Denver Indian Center. Through Denver Indian Center, she has volunteered her time to assist with community events and participated in sociopolitical events including attending the Sand Creek March in 2013 and raising awareness about the issues and controversy surrounding Standing Rock.

According to Keene, participating in these events puts her close to the current issues and allows her to see the impact of sociopolitical events on the Native community.

“This helps me to inform my practice for other groups that are similarly impacted, “she said. It also impacts my research as I consider what the most salient concerns in a community might be.”

Keene’s path to counseling psychology was largely influenced by her decision to take time off from education after her master’s graduation. During this time she worked in an inpatient psychiatric hospital and got to work with every type of psychology provider in one setting. It was there that she was encouraged and motivated to pursue a PhD. Her master’s was a research-based community counseling degree and initially Keene thought that she’d pursue a clinical PhD. Working in a neuroscience laboratory changed her mind and she realized she wanted the freedom of practice and research that counseling psychology allows. In in the field of counseling psychology, she could use her scientific background and her community training to inform her research practice.

After having decided what she wanted to study, Keene needed to find a program and an environment that suited her. Initially, she had not considered the University of Denver (DU). A friend she knew from Denver Health referred her to an open house that was hosted by University of Denver Morgridge College of Education. It was there that she was introduced to Anthea Johnson Rooen at DU’s Center for Multicultural Excellence, who assured her that she would receive the support and resources she needed to meet her educational goals. Rooen provided Keene with contacts and helped her build a larger network. Based on this experience, she felt that DU and MCE could provide her the opportunities she was seeking, not just as a doctoral student but as a Native American student.

“I think prospective students should really consider which programs are going to support their professional and personal growth,” she said. “Even as doc students, we have growing pains and it’s so helpful to have mentors and faculty who can share their own experiences of managing difficult caseloads or overwhelming deadlines and who can provide guidance.”

“In the end, you want to finish your doctoral education as a psychologist who still has all of that early enthusiasm, empathy, and drive still intact,” she continued “It doesn’t help anyone if you finish a program just a shadow of yourself, so consider how you will fare in the programs you’re considering.”

Cynthia Hazel, Ph.D.—Department Chair of Teaching and Learning Sciences and Professor of Child, Family, and School Psychology at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE)—was selected to participate in the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2016-2017 Leadership Institute for Women in Psychology (LIWP). LIWP prepares, supports, and empowers women psychologists as leaders to promote positive change in the field and in APA governance.

Dr. Hazel’s outstanding career achievements and leadership potential contributed to her invitation to participate in LIWP. Dr. Hazel’s career accomplishments include coordinating arts-based after-school programs for urban youth, serving as the Behavior Evaluation and Support Teams Coordinator for the Colorado Department of Education, and practicing as a school psychologist in impoverished communities.

About Dr. Hazel

As the chair of MCE’s Department of Teaching and Learning Sciences, Dr. Hazel oversees faculty, administration, and student outcomes for the Child, Family, and School Psychology program, the Curriculum and Instruction Program, the Early Childhood Special Education Program, and the Teacher Preparation Program. Furthermore, she was recently promoted to Full Professor at MCE.

Dr. Hazel’s recent contributions to the field include a presentation titled “Supporting the School Success of Students with Emotional Disturbance” at the International Association of School Psychologists conference in Summer 2016, held in The Netherlands, and the completion of her book titled Empowered Learning in Secondary Schools Promoting Positive Youth Development Through a Multitiered System of Supports, published by APA.

MCE extends its heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Hazel!

Assistant Professor Trisha Raque-Bogdan, Ph.D. has been awarded the inaugural Bruce and Jane Walsh Grant to study the effect that one’s work – and the meaning ascribed to that work – has on cancer survivors. Dr. Raque-Bogdan noticed a gap in research on the topic during her graduate studies, and began to work with cancer support organizations to learn more. The grant-funded study will be conducted in collaboration with Ryan Duffy, Ph.D. of the University of Florida’s Department of Psychology.

Drs. Raque-Bogdan and Duffy will fund a longitudinal study involving over 650 participants that collects and analyzes information on the level of meaning that cancer survivors placed on their work and how it affects their sense of purpose and mental, emotional, and physical health. They recruited study participants from the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center, the Young Survivors’ Coalition, and the CO Breast Cancer Coalition. Once awareness of the study spread, it “took on a life of its own” according to Dr. Raque-Bogdan, and filled up very quickly with cancer survivors who felt invested in helping others to understand the role of work in finding purpose. Dr. Raque-Bogdan said that “no research to date has examined how experiencing meaning at work relates to physical health…to both mental and physical health over time, or the personal and environmental conditions that impact the relation between the experience of meaningful work and health.”

In the United States, the lifetime risk of developing cancer is – according to the American Cancer Society – slightly less than one in two for men and slightly more than one in three for women. With the prevalence of cancer in society and the understanding that many cancer survivors are employed full time, it is increasingly important to understand how work, an integral part of many lives and identities, contributes to finding meaning and supports the well-being of cancer survivors. At this time, the researchers have finished collecting one set of data from the participants, and will collect additional data in six months and one year in order to form a comprehensive picture. Dr. Raque-Bogdan is a first-year Assistant Professor at Morgridge and she looks forward to pursuing this unique research opportunity to develop her career and establish partnerships with the cancer community.

Morgridge College of Education takes great pride in the lasting impact of our faculty whose work improves opportunities for student and community success. We are proud to share that Dr. William E. Cross, Jr. of the Counseling Psychology and Higher Education departments and Dr. Cyndy McRae of the Counseling Psychology department were each awarded a 2015 Elder Recognition Award for Distinguished Contributions by the Society of Counseling Psychology at the 2015 APA Convention in Toronto Ontario this August. The award recognizes the hard work and distinguished contributions that Counseling Psychology professionals bring to the field.

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Dr. Cross, who also received the Elder Recognition Award for Distinguished Contributions in 2013, is one of America’s leading theorists and researchers on black identity development and racial-ethnic identity development. His book, Shades of Black (Temple University Press, 1991) is a classic in the field. Dr. Cross was swept up by the Black Consciousness Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. From these experiences, he constructed Nigrescence Theory to explicate the identity-change process linked to social movement dynamics. The Cross Model became “the” template for scholars fashioning similar models on Native American Identity, Women’s Identity, Gay-Lesbian Identity, and Asian American Identity. Currently, he is co-authoring an edited text with Dr. Jas M. Sullivan of Louisiana State University, incorporating empirical studies on identity meaning and forms of internalized oppression. The book will be published by SUNY Press in January of 2016. Dr. Cross earned his PhD in Psychology from Princeton University.

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Dr. McRae’s research is focused on  psychosocial adjustment of persons with Parkinson’s disease, caregiver issues, and chronic illness, as well as the placebo effect and the effects of “Dance for PD” on daily lives. She is a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), a Fellow of the Society of Counseling Psychology since 2013, and she was the Chair of the Counseling Health Psychology Section, Division 17 of APA from 2006 to 2007. Dr. McRae is also a member of the Movement Disorder Society and the only non-MD chosen as an investigator in the Parkinson Study Group. Over the course of her career, she has mentored more than 65 students through the dissertation process. She actively encourages the Counseling Psychology community to focus on social justice, the expansion of internationalization efforts, and the importance of Counseling Health Psychology as integrative medicine becomes more widespread. Dr. McRae is the recipient of several awards: a Fulbright Specialist Award to Uganda, a National Institute of Health (NIH) FIRST award, and several other grants from NIH and other foundations. She earned her PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iowa.

Congratulations to Doctors Cross and McRae for their well-earned honor from the Society of Counseling Psychology.

Nestled in Katherine A. Ruffatto Hall, the Counseling and Educational Services Clinic is the home to in-house clinical training and research for students in the Counseling Psychology and Child, Family and School Psychology programs. For 17 years, the clinic has been providing counseling, assessments and consultations to members of the community on a sliding scale basis, giving the opportunity for a variety of counseling and educational support services to underprivileged individuals and families who may not be able to afford them otherwise. Counseling services offered at the clinic range from depression to anxiety, parenting to career counseling and are given in a variety of settings: individual, group, couples, and family counseling. Educational services offered at the clinic range from learning disabilities to behavioral issues to gifted learning.

Learning InContext

For every hour in class, a Morgridge student spends 4 hours a week in the clinic. With state-of-the-art live observation rooms, MCE students are learning InContext with a real client, supervisor and student team. The students have the benefit of getting team feedback during their client’s session, giving them the opportunity to make immediate adjustments in their practice. The clients of the in-house training clinic have the benefit of the collective intelligence of 4-6 people working on their case at the same time. This type of live supervision and feedback is unique to Morgridge College of Education’s School and Counseling Psychology Department.
The Counseling branch of the clinic at Morgridge College of Education is the largest provider of treatment services for problem gambling in the state of Colorado. Director of the Problem Gambling Treatment and Research Center and MCE adjunct professor, Michael Faragher, is one of only two psychologists certified to treat problem gambling in Colorado. Faragher’s work has provided a unique opportunity in behavioral psychology specialization for MCE students and to the Denver community, as well as leading research that continues to develop and change the field of Addiction Counseling.

The clinic’s other supervisors and their students are continuing research on treatment preference and treatment effectiveness. The research on treatment preference involves the client in the process of selecting treatment methods, resulting in a more invested client and more desirable treatment outcomes. The clinic’s research helps maintain an active role in giving presentations and publishing work contributing to the advancement of counseling services. Within the clinic, there are also several other research opportunities that support dissertations of CP and CFSP doctoral students.

CP InContext

 The Educational Services branch of the clinic serves children and young adults, up to age 21, with achievement, learning and behavioral disabilities. Through state-of-the art, research-based services, MCE students and licensed clinic supervisors provide psycho-educational assessments, consultations and recommendations for the youth, their families and their school.

New to the clinic is a Parenting Group that unifies the clinic’s two focuses – Counseling Psychology and School Psychology. By offering a Parenting Group, the clinic is able to provide support, skills and techniques for parents who have children with learning disabilities.

The clinic is expanding by adding more operating hours each year. Contact 303-871-2528 for questions or to schedule an appointment, or come by the clinic at:

University of Denver
Morgridge College of Education
Katherine A. Ruffatto Hall, First Floor
1999 East Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208-1700

Duan ZhangDr. Duan Zhang, Associate Professor in the Research Methods and Statistics program at Morgridge College of Education, recently returned from a 5-month sabbatical in China. During her time abroad, Zhang served as a visiting scholar at the School of Psychology at Central Normal University in Wuhan, China, teaching a graduate course to an international student cohort, assisting with research, advising graduate students and attending conferences.

“I worked with five other professors in the personality psychology division. The professor I worked with is one of the biggest names in his field in the Chinese Psychological Society (CPS); we attended the first ever CPS conference for the division of personality psychology in Chongchang,” Zhang states. At the CPS-PP conference, Zhang gave a presentation on goal orientation and student motivation.

Towards the end of her visit, Central Normal University sponsored an international workshop on mathematical modeling for psychology and social sciences, bringing in five international experts to share their cutting edge research methods using different types of mathematical modeling. “That scope of modeling is quite beyond what we are used to with APA and AERA research.  Those research methods could be widely applied and I look forward to learning more about those techniques in order to bring them into my research,” Zhang commented.

Upon returning from her sabbatical, Zhang has served on the standing committee for the development of the upcoming Data Visualization and Statistics Center. The Center, scheduled to open by the end of this academic year, is a part of DU’s research incubator initiative and plans to support students and faculty with statistical analysis at DU’s Anderson Academic Commons. “I am excited about all kinds of possibilities for student and faculty projects. As a college, MCE can contribute a lot of expertise to the new center.”

Dr. Zhang’s research interests focus on statistical and methodological research, dealing with multilevel data  with hierarchical structures. “I focus on quantitative methods, providing methodological support for faculty grants and other types of research projects, figuring out how large datasets should be analyzed to best serve different education and psychology research questions.”

Currently, Dr. Zhang is wrapping up a mixed method research project, Supporting Parents in Early Literacy through Libraries (SPELL), with her MCE colleague Dr. Mary Stansbury. SPELL is funded by Colorado State Library and explores how public libraries and community agency partnerships promote early literacy to low income families. For the project, Zhang served as the research scientist and Dr. Mary Stansbury served as the content expert. Elaborating on the research, Zhang explains: “We had four sites, covering a broad demographic in Denver, Colorado Springs and rural Colorado. We collected and analyzed data from surveys, focus groups and interviews.” Having recently presented their research to the advisory board, Zhang and Stansbury plan to submit the abstract and present their findings at upcoming local and national conferences with audiences in the Early Literacy and Library communities. Zhang comments, “I have a 16-month-old boy, so I have a strong interest in this project, even from a personal standpoint. Early Literacy focuses on children ages 0 to 3 years-old; when they are that young, you can’t teach them how to read, but rather promote interest in books and form the habit of reading and the love of libraries.”


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