Three Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary students have won $18,500 stipends from California Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) consortia. A fourth has been named an alternate.

Gloria Weisenborn, Visalia, and Jessica Martinez, Sanger, were awarded stipends by the MFT Consortium of the Central Valley. Casimira Joaquin, Madera, received a stipend from the MFT Consortium of Greater Sacramento. Marita Contreras, Madera, is an alternate for the Central Valley Consortium. All are studying for an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy at the seminary, part of Fresno Pacific University, and are scheduled to graduate in May 2017

Fresno Pacific students have done well in a competitive process over the last few years. “To be chosen is an extraordinary feat,” said Cynthia McGrady, Ph.D., MFT program director, “winners are selected on the basis of their skill and expertise working in multicultural settings in community health.”

The Central Valley region had 56 applications for 15 stipends and the Sacramento region had 25 applicants for 14 stipends. Statewide, there were 485 applications for 110 stipends. The program is funded through the Mental Health Services Act (2005) and administered by the consortium Phillips Graduate Institute and the MFT Consortium of California.

Professional preparation and a commitment to people in marginalized groups are among the reasons seminary students succeed. “Our program prepares students for excellence by actively encouraging them to engage with poor and underserved populations to promote healing, hope and health,” McGrady said.  

Stipend recipients must spend one year at a mental health services agency serving people in poor/underserved populations in the region where the award was issued. The goal of the stipend is to recruit, prepare and employ students in mental health, wellness and recovery with the emphasis on serving clients in lower-income and culturally diverse communities.

To be eligible, applicants must show experience in the field of mental health and be in the process of completing or have completed a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy. Evaluators consider applicants’ involvement in wellness and recovery programs funded by the government, their experience in different cultures and values, and whether they’ve had experience with mental health issues and recovery in their own lives.

The Consortium of the Central Valley covers Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare and Tuolumne counties. The Consortium of Greater Sacramento includes Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba counties. There are eight consortia statewide.

Pictured are: (Top left) Casimira Joaquin, (top right) Gloria Weisenborn, bottom left) Jessica Martinez and (bottom right) Marita Contreras.