President Rosenberg recognizes SISH Worlds Ahead graduates

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The first Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Cohort will be recognized as Worlds Ahead

The Clinical Science Doctoral Program in Child and Adolescent Psychology enrolled its first cohort of students in Fall 2010 - those students are graduating soon. They have come a long way since they took a chance on the brand new psychology program, one of a handful that specializes in developmental psychopathology emphasizing cultural diversity, adaptation, coping, and resilience as it relates to access, quality, and impact of mental health care.

These Worlds Ahead students are well-positioned to advance science that contributes to reducing the tremendous unmet mental health burden facing children and families in this country. These graduate students, the first cohort, enrolled on faith (in a brand new unaccredited program), tolerated a great deal of ambiguity (as the program took shape, requirements shifted, and expectations unfolded), and by their many accomplishments they helped the program achieve accreditation by the APA this past January.

Every one of these graduates has worked incredibly hard to become a remarkable scholar in their respective subfields. They published in the most prestigious journals, presented at national conferences, and have secured federal funding. Each has completed prestigious and highly competitive full-year clinical internships, the capstone of their doctoral training. And each has accepted outstanding offers for post-doctoral fellowships or faculty positions beginning this Fall.

It is a pleasure and a privilege to honor these seven graduates (Ryan Hill, Mike Meinzer, Gabbi Hungerford, Cristina DelBusto, Kat Crum, Dainelys Garcia & Maya Boustani) of the Clinical Science Doctoral Program in Child and Adolescent Psychology. They are truly all Worlds Ahead.

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Angelo Andres, Biomolecular Sciences Institute

As a child, Angelo Andres was inspired to pursue science by the influence of shows such as Bill Nye the Science Guy and The Magic School Bus. This impact led to his motivation to use science to make a difference in the world. After completing high school, his passion for the health sciences led him to join the U.S. Army Reserve Public Health Corps. In 2011, his military service brought him to Afghanistan, where he worked to contain and prevent the spread of diseases such as tuberculosis. Due to his meritorious service, Angelo was awarded various medals including the Army Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Good Conduct Medal.

Upon his return to the United States, Angelo struggled to transition back into civilian life but in so doing he rediscovered his passion for science. While balancing being a full-time student with a full-time job, and serving in the military, he pursued research with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Yearning to make a difference in the areas of health and medicine, Angelo set his sights on the field of drug discovery. In 2015, he joined the research group of Dr. Yuk-Ching Tse-Dinh at Florida International University (FIU). Under the guidance of professors Tse-Dinh and Arasu Annamalai in their lab, he was once again working to fight the neglected disease of tuberculosis in the hope of discovering novel leads towards resistant antibiotics.

During his research with Dr. Tse-Dinh, Angelo has contributed to two publications, being co-author on one. And through his research experience with her, he has earned the prestigious selection of being chosen as a Ronald E. McNair Fellow. Andres has also represented his lab and FIU at local conferences, winning first place presenter awards at the Southeast Cell Science Symposium and the Biomedical & Comparative Immunology Symposium.

With his sights set on drug discovery and development, Angelo will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kansas, one of the top graduate programs in the country. He was awarded their Edward E. Smissman Fellowship for standing out as the top applicant. Recently, Angelo lost his uncle to a rare form of thyroid cancer and this event has boosted his motivation for research and innovation in novel medicine that will bring great impact to the world. With his Ph.D. he is determined to use his research skills to advance medicinal chemistry to fight rare and neglected diseases.

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Nely Garcia, Psychology Worlds Ahead graduate

Nely Garcia demonstrates tireless enthusiasm and commitment to her education and research. Professor Dan Bagner met Nely in 2010 when she enrolled in two of his undergraduate courses and stood out as one of the most impressive students he had ever taught. Luckily for him, she became interested in his research and came to work as his research assistant, eventually being accepted into the Clinical Child Psychology program.

During her graduate training, Nely demonstrated perfection in her coursework and excelled in her clinical responsibilities. Every family she worked with had tremendous affection for her. Nely’s research skills were equally impressive - she has 10 publications in top journals and conducted important research to improve treatment for children with traumatic brain injuries.

Nely’s successes are even more impressive considering the personal obstacles she has and continues to overcome. Nely has scoliosis and had major spinal fusion surgery in 2007. In her year-long recovery period, Nely managed to complete her bachelor’s degree at FIU in just one year after completing the two-year honors program at Miami-Dade College, and she is now completing her doctorate a year early.

Nely never complained or used her condition as an excuse and graciously dismissed any of her professor's attempts to get her to slow down. Nely is a remarkable individual and scientist. Dr. Bagner commented that he "cannot think of anyone more deserving of being recognized at graduation." Her success and perseverance truly embodies being “Worlds Ahead.” Congratulations to Nely and her mentor Dan Bagner.