Master’s student Melina Acosta received one of the 2018-2019 Master’s Minority Fellowships from the Council on Social Work Education. The value of the award is $6,500 and is intended to enhance the training of full-time, master’s-level, social work students focused in direct practice during their final year of study at a CSWE-accredited institution.

“As a member of a minority group, I recognize how hard it can be to talk about mental health and how foreign a concept it can be to seek mental health services,” Acosta said. “I want to work with clients who identify as minorities to normalize help-seeking behaviors and to fight cultural stigma around mental health. My future plans include providing mental health care and psycho-education to adolescents and young adults of color, and engaging in community-based suicide prevention and mental health promotion efforts.”

Acosta is a second-year master’s student in the Clinical Concentration. During her first year, she completed her required social work internship at The Christi Center, where she co-facilitated weekly peer support groups, individual, and group sessions for bereaved clients.

“Melina demonstrates a clear and unwavering dedication to social work values and practice,” said Joan Aseff, a clinical assistant professor at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. “In her internship field placement at the Christi Center and in the classroom, she always exhibited the highest degree of professionalism, engagement, collaboration, and commitment to positive outcomes for clients.”

Funding for the Master’s Minority Fellowships is provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Center for Mental Health Services. Applicants must identify mental health and/or substance use disorder service delivery to racial/ethnic minority populations as their focus, and be committed to seeking employment in this field after graduation.  The purpose of this program is to reduce health disparities and improve behavioral health-care outcomes for racially and ethnically diverse populations by increasing the number of culturally competent master’s-level behavioral health professionals available to serve racial/ethnic minority populations.