Oakland’s Kaleen Carimbocas,

a fellow east coast transplant, is a smiling faced, approachable woman with fierce dreams.  She is currently working as a Research Associate at USF’s Center for Child and Family Development where she comes up with research topics, plans of execution and studies what is important for the clients they serve.

The Center for Child and Family Development

services public schools in San Francisco and takes place at Mercy High school. The program entails trying to figure out what is going on for the child in the classroom and keeping them from excelling. Often, this process involves the family, as the model is really a school based family counseling model. In this way, Kaleen says, they can make sure the parents have what they need, the children are given opportunities to succeed, and any obstacles that are contributing to them suffering academically, can be addressed. A solution may be as simple as re-seating them in the classroom. The Center also works with the teachers and principals of schools, getting everyone involved in a holistic effort to aid the student.

Some commonalities Kaleen found included that most families are at a disadvantage because of their level of wealth. Often, basic needs are not being met. She mentioned that thankfully, a lot of people are now starting to understand that it’s not just about how the teacher does and how the school works- it is about what is going on at home too. There is also sometimes a language barrier.

The Center also holds conferences to let other schools know they exist and can be of service to them, as it is open to all San Francisco Schools. They provide Parent Group Therapy as well.

Kaleen is passionate about this work. She says it is really important work, to have the kids have someone to talk to outside of home, because (often) they do think they are to blame and are bad.

Kaleen is currently earning her

Counseling Psych and Marriage and Family Therapy

License and Masters at USF. Recently, the program has shifted to encompass a multicultural approach, as they have realized that cultural competence is essential to be able to work with diverse populations. The program is now a 70-unit program when it was previously a 40-unit program. California is one of the most progressive states in the country, when it comes to mental health. The state holds the bar high for mental health professionals and the individuals that want to become service providers, educators and professionals in the field, have to be extremely driven and passionate.

Kaleen is in the first year of a three-year program and talking about working on getting published. She nonchalantly tells me that she has been invited to present in Washington DC, at

APA

on

Black Women in Psychology.

This is a huge deal! APA is what funds psychology in this nation! For her to get invited to present her research is impressive, yet Kaleen says to me, like she is ordering a latte, this world only happens to listen to research that is empirical and in a collegiate environment. I am in that environment, and I can speak to the huge concerns of mental health of black women. Research will then give black women representation in psychology that they don’t have, as it is a very under researched area. In very small ways we are trying to change that. I want to be one of those women.

USF PsychKaleen tells me that she sees change happening in two ways: counseling will bring people to her to express themselves and she will be able to give voice to more black women.  In their opening up and telling her about challenges and supports that they need, this will hopefully combat the view that a lot of minority populations have of mental health services.

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