Picture of 7 faculty and grad students from ASU

ASU welcomes clinical psychology doctoral students from Puerto Rico


John Keeney

Last year, for the first time ever, the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University hosted three clinical psychology doctoral students from Albizu University in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This year, the school welcomed two more doctoral students — Ariadna Aldarondo Hernandez and Yaddira Molano.

Aldarondo Hernandez and Molano collaborated in faculty-led research projects and contributed to ongoing research, while working closely with the school's faculty members on data analysis, data collection and assessing research questions.

This externship program was made possible due to the collaboration of Cynthia Garcia-Coll and Richard Fabes. Garcia-Coll is the associate director of the Institutional Center of Scientific Research of the Albizu University Puerto Rico campus. Fabes is the school director and professor of the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at ASU. The goal of this collaboration is for students to gain more diverse experience as researchers.

Aldarondo Hernandez is a fifth year clinical psychology doctoral student at Albizu University. There she received both her Master of Science degree in clinical psychology and her Bachelor of Science in biology from University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras campus. Aldarondo currently works as a research assistant on different research projects with Joy Lynn Suárez from Albizu University.

Aldarondo Hernandez's clinical practice has focused on working with children and adolescents with cognitive disabilities, metabolic disorders and developmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder.

Molano has been working as a music teacher and handbell choir director for the last 27 years. She is currently working at Colegio La Piedad in Isla Verde, Puerto Rio as a preschool music teacher. As a music teacher, Molano noticed that schools were falling short, and new forms of interventions and support are urgently needed to create healthy communities. This inspired her to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology, where she is developing the knowledge and skills that will help her in working with communities in Puerto Rico.

Through her experiences in the classroom and school community, Molano realized the urgent need to help children develop socio-emotional skills. Molano strongly believes that education is one of the most important and effective tools to help develop healthy and happy communities.

“My 'wow' moment was witnessing an extremely active group of people with such strong commitment to connect the knowledge developed in academia with the community,” Molano said. “Research findings are translated into action. It was life changing for me to experience such a great group of professionals that are willing to share their knowledge in such a generous way and in doing so, making profound impact in the lives of others.”

These experiences reflect the school's focus on the well-being of children, youth and families.

“I was truly surprised by how involved the [School of Social and Family Dynamics] is with the community and how individuals and community are always in the forefront of ideas and designs of projects and interventions to make a difference in people’s lives,” Aldarondo Hernandez said.

Both summer cohort students will return to ASU in February 2018 to attend and present at the first Diversity and Inclusion Science Initiative Graduate Research Conference

Article contribution by Arlyn Moreno Luna