Excellence Through Diversity Scholars Fellowship Recipients

2018-2019 Recipients


Name: Amira Trevino

A native to the Pacific Northwest, Amira was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington, where she attended Clark Community College and Washington State University-Vancouver. Her interests led her to major in Psychology and minor in Human Development. As a member of several historically marginalized groups, Amira was motivated to use her personal experiences and education to empower others who also sit at an intersection of marginalized identities. Thus, she went on to support community members in varying ways, such as providing crisis support to victims of sexual assault, post-secondary education planning for historically underserved students, and psychoeducation and skill-building opportunities for children and families from low-income backgrounds. In addition to her direct service work, Amira has actively supported research projects with topics ranging from diversity in higher education, to health behaviors and emotion regulation, to improving health care services for veterans with varying levels of suicide risk. As a 1styear student in the Counseling Psychology doctoral program, Amira aims to continue her mission of elevating oppressed people through research and client-centered services.

At the core of her studies, Amira believes that all people should get the services they need, no matter how they look, sound, or amount of money they have. This perspective has only magnified her desire to investigate methods to minimize disparities in access to quality mental health services and education. She found a shared passion with her now-advisor, Dr. Karen Tao, strengthening Amira’s desire to join the Counseling Psychology doctoral program at the UU. The warm, inviting culture of the department and Salt Lake City overall was only “icing on the cake,” further cementing Amira’s decision to join the department. Amira hopes to use her experiences to support her newfound community in SLC and looks forward to the many opportunities for personal and professional growth that her time at the UU will bring.


Name: Madison Abele

Madison Abele was born and raised here in Salt Lake City, Utah. Madison is currently a research assistant for Dr. David Derezotes in the University of Utah’s College of Social Work. Madison’s educational background consists of an Honors Bachelor of Social Work degree with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Utah. During her time as an undergraduate, because of the concerning rates of maternal and infant mortality rate, she completed an honors thesis that looked at the quality of low-income pregnant women’s prenatal care here in the Salt Lake Valley. Madison was also a part of a Culture and Mental Health Praxis Lab, where she and other students partnered with Latino Behavioral Health Services to research the level of mental health awareness in the Latino community here in Utah. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work and hopes to eventually pursue a doctoral degree. Her previous experience during her undergraduate sparked a desire in research and she anticipates it will become a passion of hers. She aims to work in the healthcare setting and is looking forward to completing her practicum at the University of Utah’s Neurology Department this upcoming year.

Madison was attracted to the University of Utah’s Master of Social because of her immensely positive experience during her undergraduate. Madison had the opportunity to work with some of the faculty during her research where they were not only helpful but supportive in her decisions. Madison has received nothing but encouragement from her professors and advisors, which led her to the Master’s program. She is very inspired by some of the research that is taking place at the College of Social Work, and she is excited to be a part of it.

2017-2018 Recipients


Name: Camara Chea 

Camara is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Counseling Psychology doctoral program. A California native, she was born and raised in the Central Valley. She attended the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she majored in Intensive Psychology with a minor in Sociology. Camara cites her opportunities outside the classroom, in working with a diverse student body, as being transformative to her personal development and trajectory. In her role as a Resident Advisor for two years, she helped foster a safe and inclusive environment for other students through guidance and programming. As a Peer Educator at her university counseling center for four years, she worked to increase mental health awareness and combat stigma by outreaching to her campus community via workshops, events, and publicity. In addition, her experiences on social Psychology research teams similarly stimulated her strong interest in social justice. As the daughter of Cambodian genocide refugees, Camara is especially interested in addressing mental health disparities in various communities. Her research interests include Asian American mental health and well-being. In her free time, Camara enjoys spending time with her family and friends, finding good discounts, watching films and funny videos, and staying active. In her short statement, she shares: “I was drawn to the Counseling Psychology doctoral program at the University of Utah for a number of reasons. As I pored over the program website and handbook, many things captured my attention, such as the program’s commitment to multicultural perspectives and social advocacy, the comprehensive research and clinical training, the emphasis on professional identity and development, and the strong alignment of my research interests with Dr. Karen Tao. Upon visiting the program after receiving my acceptance, I was amazed at the collaborative sense of community and support I could already feel with the program faculty, staff, and other students, especially with my future advisor. Along with the location of Salt Lake City itself and the extensive pubic transportation system, these warm interactions only affirmed my desire to join the U of U community, and by the end of my visit, I knew that this program was the best fir for me.


Name: Rodalyn David  

Originally from Rockland County, NY, Rodalyn is a graduate of Lincoln University of PA in Psychology (2009) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Higher Education Administration (2013). As an undergraduate, she developed a strength for research investigating the health behaviors of African American college students, their perceived access, along with their emotions and cognitive reactions to treatment. In 2009, it was here at the University of Utah in the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) that she gained exposure to a research-intensive, yet humanely supportive environment. While serving as an advisor for students at several predominantly White institutions (PWIs), her need to study the health outcomes of African Americans in the college environment grew due to the current racial climate.

Rodalyn was attracted to the Education, Culture, & Society program because of Dr. William Smith’s work on Racial Battle Fatigue. She hopes to uncover the role of ethnic identity in perceptions of racism, coping, and peer support, with the foundations of the psychological, physiological, and behavioral impacts of race-related stress in the academic and career experience. The open door in ECS to draw from outside disciplines will aid in her goals to build partnerships that effectively intervene on college campuses.