KU News Release


Aug. 21, 2009
Contact: Mike Krings, University Relations, (785) 864-8860

Clinical Child Psychology Program honored for minority recruitment, retention efforts

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas’ Clinical Child Psychology Program has received a national award for its efforts in recruiting and retaining ethnic minorities.

The American Psychological Association presented program representatives with the Richard M. Suinn Minority Achievement Award at its annual convention Aug. 6 in Toronto.

Bertha Holliday, senior director of the Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs with the association, said they were impressed with the KU program’s work in recruitment, retention and training.

“The Clinical Child Psychology Program does a great job of working to recruit ethnic minority students,” said Yo Jackson, associate professor in the psychology and applied behavioral science departments. “The fact that we have more ethnic minority students in our program than we do, percentage-wise, in the city and in the state is significant, and we’re proud of that.”

Students in the Clinical Child Psychology Program represent African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American and Native-American ethnic groups, whose backgrounds enrich the program for all students, Jackson said.

KU’s program averages between 33 percent and 38 percent ethnic minority students. Jackson said that number is also significant because less than 1 percent of professionals working in the field of clinical child psychology are ethnic minorities.

Simply getting ethnic minorities to the university is not enough, Jackson said, and the program makes a concerted effort to help them thrive in the program until completion. The department’s relatively small size allows faculty members to spend one-on-one time with students. Funding also played a role in KU’s selection. The department regularly seeks out scholarships for ethnic minority students and recently has had four earn American Psychological Association fellowships, which help students pay for their education.

The association also took note of the program’s efforts in training students for success in the field. The program has curriculum specifically tailored toward ethnic minority issues in relation to clinical child psychology, and faculty have helped students publish more than 25 academic papers in the past five years.

“We were able to document that we’re working with the students to become professionals,” Jackson said. “The one-on-one work we do really speaks to them and has helped the students be successful.”

Sangeeta Parikshak from Germantown, Tenn., and Yelena Ping Wu from Newton Upper Falls, Mass., both KU doctoral students, wrote letters of nomination for their department and gathered data for the award application. The award committee praised Parikshak and Wu for demonstrating how KU’s program met the criteria.

Three of the program’s four faculty members, as well as three current students and four alumni traveled to Toronto to accept the award. Jackson said the award was earned by the combined efforts of the entire department.

“When we look back at how we’ve been successful in minority recruitment and retention, it comes from a serious commitment that starts at the top with our director, Michael Roberts, and extends through the entire program. It is a program-wide effort and a part of the values shared across the program.”

More information about the students who nominated the program for the award:

Sangeeta Parikshak of Germantown, Tenn., has a master’s degree from DePaul University in Chicago and bachelor’s degree from Brown University in Providence, R.I.

Yelena Ping Wu of Newton Upper Falls, Mass., received a master’s degree in clinical child psychology from KU in fall 2007 and bachelor’s degree from University of California-Berkeley.


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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