Students from the MFT program area, Lauren Smithee and Evan Thomas, have been awarded prestigious fellowships through the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Minority Fellowship Program.  The Minority Fellowship Program is dedicated to increasing the number of culturally competent marriage and family therapists, and to expanding the availability of culturally competent mental health and substance abuse services for ethnic minority and underserved populations.

Lauren is studying the experiences of transgender youth and their families and transgender adults in romantic partnerships.  She seeks to better tailor mental health interventions for gender minority populations.  She will use her experiences in the MFP to inform better systemic mental health treatment for gender minority populations and their family members.

Evan’s research focuses on substance use in Appalachia and is specifically focused on training healthcare professionals how to be better prepared to work in Appalachia.  As a native of Appalachia, he plans to utilize his training during the fellowship to advocate for Appalachian communities and enhance others’ knowledge of the underserved population.  In the picture above, Evan just finished meeting with Virginia Representative, Morgan Griffith, to advocate for substance use research in Appalachia.

Lauren and Evan join nine other Virginia Tech students and alumni who have participated in the Minority Fellowship Program.