NHPA Educational Foundation presents first award

By Phyllis Hanlon
June 2nd, 2020
Aberdine Donaldson
Aberdine Donaldson is the recipient of the NHPA Educational Foundation’s 2020 Student Achievement Award.

In 2009, the New Hampshire Psychological Association (NHPA) created the NHPA Educational Foundation under the leadership of then-executive director Kathryn E. Saylor, Psy.D and in collaboration with several other psychologists. This entity was designed to educate the public and practitioners, publish educational materials, sponsor quality programs that advance the profession, and recognize student achievement with scholarships.

However, the Foundation remained dormant until January 2019 when Saylor moved out of state. The new leadership focused on other issues until the current NHPA president Celia Oliver, Ph.D, and incoming executive director, Jena Mottola made reviving the Foundation and establishing the scholarship two of their main goals.

The initial purpose of the Foundation to educate the public, practitioners, and students of mental health about the field of psychology has been broadened somewhat to include other objectives, according to Jacquelyn M. Reinert, Psy.D, private practitioner in Massachusetts and instructor at Rivier University.

“Key initiatives pursued include a training consortium to provide additional clinical training opportunities to doctoral students,” she said.

Reinert noted that the original board planned to award a scholarship, but instead focused on a consortium and training program for doctoral students at that time. She reported that New Hampshire offers very few such programs and the Foundation hoped to fill a need.

Today, the Educational Foundation board is comprised of five members, two from New Hampshire and one each from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Reinert pointed out that before re-establishing the scholarship program, the Foundation had planned to develop a research and referral system similar to the William James INTERFACE Referral Services, a free, confidential mental health and wellness referral helpline for communities across Massachusetts.

However, the Foundation wanted to find ways to support students and decided to focus on workforce development, education and continuing education, according to Reinert.

“The Educational Foundation’s current work continues to honor psychology and its application to health promotion and community welfare,” said Reinert. “In addition to this, the Educational Foundation seeks to recognize achievement in graduate training and research.”

To support these efforts financially, the Educational Foundation participates in NH Gives, an online fundraising initiative of the NH Center for Nonprofits, Reinert explained.  This initiative is “…designed to build community, connect donors to local non-profits and generate excitement about the non-profit sector.”

Last year, through both public and private donations, the Educational Foundation raised sufficient funding to sponsor high quality, evidence-based APA sponsored continuing education workshops, Reinert said.

“Best of all, contributions allowed us to fund the 2020 Student Achievement Award. The Educational Foundation will participate in NH Gives again this year on June 9 and June 10.

According to Reinert, the student achievement award is given annually to a doctoral student residing in New Hampshire or one who is currently enrolled in a New Hampshire-based doctoral program. The Educational Foundation places an emphasis on awarding the scholarship to a student who is committed to both the field of psychology and to maintaining employment in the state.

This year’s award was given to Aberdine Donaldson, a New Hampshire native completing her doctoral studies at Northeastern University.

Donaldson expressed her gratitude when informed that she had been selected to receive the scholarship. “Receiving the Student Achievement Scholarship from the NHPA Educational Foundation has allowed me the financial flexibility to focus my time and energy in my fieldwork experience to further develop my clinical skills,” she said.

“Furthermore, I have greatly benefited from the scholarship by registering for online training in evidence-based practice. Additionally, I have been able to connect with integral members of the New Hampshire psychology community that I hope to collaborate with in the future.”

Because of the current COVID-19 crisis, the Foundation will bestow the award on Donaldson at the NHPA annual membership meeting on May 29, which will be held virtually.

Reinert reported that the Educational Foundation would like to award two scholarships in the future, one in the spring and one in the fall. “But it’s difficult to get funding right now,” she said. “As people learn more about what we are doing, we hope to get more businesses involved and increase funding for the scholarship.”

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