Scott Barrera was our 2021-2022 Graduate Student Inclusive Excellence Award recipient. Scott is a doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology graduate program.
Dr. Kristin Perrone nominated Scott. Dr. Perrone wrote that, “Scott has been a champion for diversity by establishing a multicultural research lab where he mentored master’s and undergraduate students in designing and conducting research on prejudice, discrimination, racial-ethnic identity development, and activism. He has also been actively engaged in conducting and publishing research in this area. For example, he co-authored a book chapter about multicultural awareness in the classroom and co-authored an article examining perceptions of interracial same-sex couples using neuroscience methodologies.”
Q and A with Scott
What is your inclusive excellence philosophy?
I approach diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work with the understanding that mistakes are inevitable and there is always more to learn. With this understanding, it is important to engage in self-reflection while reducing defensiveness and judgment to allow for opportunities of growth. Additionally, I find it is important to have people who also have similar values and commit themselves to this work because this work can be difficult and demoralizing due to systemic barriers.
What strategies do you employ in your work in inclusive excellence?
As a counseling psychologist, I utilize various strategies throughout my roles as a researcher, instructor, and clinician. Across all these roles, I prioritize engaging in self-reflection and modeling openness. I believe modeling is one of the most important strategies because it creates a more welcoming learning environment to explore individual biases. Additionally, I utilize strategies of validation and collaboration with individuals who have marginalized identities to amplify their voices and to support self-advocacy. Lastly, I participate in and promote larger social movements that aim to dismantle systems of oppression and create lasting change.
What is your proudest achievement in inclusive excellence for your graduate program?
One achievement I am particularly proud of regarding inclusive excellence would be developing a multicultural focused student driven research lab within the Counseling Psychology Department. Another doctoral student and I created and managed a research lab focused on multicultural issues such as prejudice, discrimination, racial-ethnic identity development, and social activism. This experience was rewarding because we helped strengthen other students’ interest in multiculturalism and diversity while promoting research focused on issues among marginalized communities.
Who has helped you along the way as you have developed your skills in this area?
There have been countless people who have contributed to my journey of being a more culturally aware and inclusive person. First and foremost, Dr. Kristin Perrone, my advisor and dissertation chair, has contributed to my development through her guidance and encouragement of pursuing opportunities to engage in DEI work. My previous clinical supervisor, Dr. Lina Burkhart, also significantly impacted my development by helping me engage in self-reflection and advocacy while consistently bringing diversity to the forefront of our discussions. Additionally, many of the other faculty and students in the Counseling Psychology Department have helped me lay the groundwork to engage in DEI research, instruction, and clinical practice.