Sanjana Satishkumar, a first-year student in the clinical counseling program of the Department of Psychology, is a 2019 recipient of a Merit Fellowship. Satishkumar was born in India before moving to Tulsa, OK during her teenage years. She later went on to graduate magna cum laude from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.

Growing up, Satishkumar realized mental health was not something regularly talked about in India, but rather was somewhat stigmatized. This was until eighth grade when she met a school counselor and was inspired to make it her goal to normalize mental health, increase awareness, and encourage therapy.

During her undergraduate work, Satishkumar completed a bachelor’s thesis where she studied cultural similarity and relationship with peer acceptance and peer victimization. For her upcoming master’s thesis, she is interested in looking at diversity and the intersection of different identities related to anxiety, the idea of being a minority within a minority.

Once she has obtained her master’s in clinical counseling in the spring of 2021, Satishkumar plans to continue her education by pursuing a doctorate. Eventually, she would like to practice therapy as a professional.

“In general, I want to be a positive, helpful influence on people in need,” said Satishkumar.

Merit Fellowships are awarded to a select number of students based on their high academic achievement. To be considered for this award, applicants must excel in their course work prior to attending graduate school, having obtained a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.3 on a 4.0 scale, among other qualifications.