Melanie Foundation Scholarship Winners

Melanie Foundation Scholarship Winners

The Melanie Foundation has announced its recipients for the 2013 scholarships: Magda Permut, Katherine Sanchez Castejon, Keira Moore, Kevin O’Leary, and Jessica Bodie. The annual scholarship is awarded to graduate-level students in the mental health field who demonstrate commitment to helping others with empathy and wisdom. They are recognized for exhibiting devotion to their fields of study, both inside and outside the classroom, through research, volunteerism, and work experience, and for service to their communities in a manner consistent with Melanie Merola O’Donnell – with compassion, generosity, respect, and a commitment to others.

“The board of The Melanie Foundation and I are very pleased to have the opportunity to reward these 5 students as they have all shown such passion and drive to accomplish their goals and make a difference,” says Maria Palmer Maurer, race director. “With their interests ranging in many different aspects of the mental health field, we foresee a brighter future as they pursue their dreams of helping others.”

Magda Permut recently completed her third year of doctoral study in clinical-community psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College. Permut devotes her efforts to community-level prevention and intervention projects serving those with mental health and social needs. She also works to improve the lives of individuals, families, and their communities.

Permut has served as a clinical extern at the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County in Columbia, MD, as well as at Chase Brexton Health Services, a community behavioral health organization serving Baltimore’s most underserved citizens. This summer, she will be conducting integrative assessments with adolescents who are reintegrating into the community after experiencing the juvenile justice system.

Permut’s commitment to wellness and community is demonstrated throughout her work experience and voluntary service to others. In January 2013, she successfully defended her master’s thesis titled, “Spirituality, Optimism, and Self-Esteem: Pathways to Positive Change in a Women’s Wellness Curriculum,” an exploration of an experiential educational curriculum offered by Shakti Rising, a community-based young women’s holistic recovery program in San Diego, CA.

Previously, Permut worked as a residential counselor, clinical staff member, and staff trainer at Shakti Rising, where she offered holistic personal growth services to individuals with mental health needs. She will be presenting her findings from this research at the 2013 American Psychological Association Division 27 Society for Community, Research and Action Biennial Conference. Permut was responsible for founding the Psychology Graduate Student Organization (PGSO) at UMBC and currently holds an advisor position.

As an advisor for PGSO, she is responsible for training new leadership to sustain the organization’s vision of creating a sense of community among psychology graduate students at UMBC. The mission of the organization not only supports graduate students through the challenges and stresses of graduate school, but also provides students with an experience of community so that they are able to establish it within the communities they live and work.

As a third time scholarship recipient, Permut said, “I feel honored to be connected to this extraordinary group of people who come together each year to honor the life of Melanie Merola O’Donnell. Their passion and compassion inspires me to try to extend, in my own way, the beautiful work that Melanie did in the world.”

This post originally appeared in UMBC Insights.

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